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In Italy, the expansion of turfgrasses is limited by the lack of suitable species for cultivation in the Mediterranean climate. With this view, Mi.Te.A.Med. (Turfgrass improvement in the Mediterranean climate) research project was developed with the main purpose to find out and agronomically characterise native turfgrass species of Southern and Central Italy and to compare them with some commercial cultivars. During the first step of the research, 11 sites from 6 regions of Southern and Central Italy were identified. In these sites 24 ecotypes of Cynodon dactylon L. (Pers.) were collected and their habitus, phenology plus some biometric parameters have been determined. During the two years of research both botanic and agronomic characterisation of the collected C. dactylon ecotypes and their comparison with 3 commercial cultivars (Panama, Transcontinental and Yukon) was carried out. In the first year the colour loss interval was assessed. In the second year, colour index was measured by an electronic colorimeter, weekly growth rate was measured by a turfmeter, turf quality and ground cover percentage were assessed by visual estimate. Some native accessions showed behaviour similar to commercial cultivars while an ecotype from the Abruzzo region showed better results compared to the commercial cultivars for several quality indices.
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