Purdue University Graduate School
Annual bluegrass ecology and herbicide resistance - Vera Vukovic.pdf (3.26 MB)

Annual bluegrass ecology and herbicide resistance - Vera Vukovic.pdf

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posted on 2023-04-25, 20:59 authored by Vera VukovicVera Vukovic


Annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.) is the most troublesome weed in turfgrass systems and the second most troublesome weed across all grass crops. Controlling annual bluegrass is exceptionally complicated due to its high genetic adaptability to new environments. Additionally, prolific seed production allowed the rapid development of herbicide resistance to 12 herbicide modes of action. Experiments were initiated with the goal to better understand annual bluegrass ecology and resistance to ethofumesate. A dose-response experiment was initiated in 2022 to determine the potential level of ethofumesate resistance in annual bluegrass collected from seed production systems. Seed from 55 annual bluegrass populations was obtained from three sources: seed production fields (31 populations), seed cleaning process (6 populations), and seed testing prior to retail distribution (18 populations). 

Individual seedlings (2–3 tillers) were treated with ten doses of ethofumesate: 0, 0.6, 1.1, 2.8, 5.6, 8.4, 11.2, 16.8, 22.4, and 44.8 kg ai ha−1; with 1.1 to 2.2 kg ha−1 as the label application rates for perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). The resistance to susceptible ratio of populations across all sources ranged from 0.48 to 5.48. The most resistant populations from production fields, removed during the seed cleaning process, or found in seed testing lots had ED50 values of 12.1, 13.1, and 9.4 kg ai ha−1, respectively. Further, 68% of the populations found in production fields had ED50 higher than 6 kg ai ha−1, which indicates that annual bluegrass resistance is common in grass seed production. A garden study was initiated in November 2020 to assess the development, reproduction, and survival of ten annual bluegrass populations in Indiana. Annual bluegrass plants were maintained in the absence of turf competition and not subjected to typical turfgrass management practices including irrigation, mowing and fertilization. Data collected in included growth rate, biomass production, ground cover, morphology, flowering time, seed production and morphology, and both winter survival and subsequent summer survival of plants. Principal component analysis indicated that certain populations grouped together based on their development, morphology, stress tolerance, and seed production. Plants from the cooler climates (OR, PA, and IN) were characterized by higher growth rates and biomass compared to southern ecotypes. These three populations survived the longest during the summer, with the PA population averaging the highest ground cover of 276 cm2 on 23 July 2021. Plants from warm climates (AL, FL, NC, SC, TN, TX) had poor summer survival. Additionally, the FL population had the highest winterkill of 68%, followed by TX at 45%. The NJ population was distinct from other populations, and plants had robust aboveground biomass and high seed production. The results indicate that the development, reproduction, and survival of different annual bluegrass biotypes are dependent on the climate of origin. A third experiment was designed to understand patterns of germination and seed longevity in populations from five climates across the U.S. at two depths of burial. Seed was retrieved in 6-month intervals up to 24 months. Seed viability by depth (surface vs. 5-cm deep) of burial differed only 18 months after the initiation of the study. However, seed viability did differ among populations on each date of seed retrieval. Viability was low ranging from 0.21 to 0.91%, and populations originating from cool climates (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Oregon) generally had higher viability than populations originating from warmer climates. Annual bluegrass seed tested in this study typically had low levels of survival (<0.5%); however, all populations retained some level of viability 24 months after burial, which would allow future reproduction of this troublesome weed. Overall, this research determined that herbicides alone will likely be ineffective at controlling annual bluegrass and that knowledge of the development, reproduction, and survival of local annual bluegrass populations should be factored into an integrated weed management strategies created for each site. 



Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Horticulture

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Aaron Patton

Additional Committee Member 2

Cale Bigelow

Additional Committee Member 3

Stephen Meyers

Additional Committee Member 4

Jim Brosnan