An increased interest to a problem of breeding of turf grasses is observed at this moment in Russia and other countries of the former USSR. Various kinds of turf coverings are the important mean of improvement of the environment and they are widely used in technologically advanced countries.
Most of varieties of bentgrass, fescue and bluegrass, which exist in the countries of the former USSR, are intended for fodder usage. Special lawn varieties are created only for ryegrass, but because of low winter hardness their usage is limited. Samples of a world collection of the Department of Fodder crops of VIR can serve for solution of many problems that breeders faced with, as valuable initial material.
The structure of the world collection of VIR represents all cultures, used for creation of lawns and other turf coverings in the temperate zone: bentgrass (15 species and 90 accessions without the accessions of A. gigantea), fescue (23 species and 773 accessions without F. pratensis), bluegrass (17 and 1315 accessions) and ryegrass (6 species and artificial hybrids with 732 accessions) (fig.1, fig2).
Bentgrass (Agrostis L.). The main part of the collection of bentgrass (four hundreds six accessions) consists of A. gigantea Roth = A. alba a.n. L., which donít have amenity importance.
The basic species for lawn purposes (A. canina L., A. stolonifera L. and A. tenuis Sibth.) are represented mainly by varieties of European and North American breeding. The varieties from the Netherlands and Denmark are of special interest for creation of lawns in Russia, especially in the Northwest regions (fig. 3).
The wild growing material is represented by collections made during field trips in the Ukraine (Poltava, Vinnitza, Kiev and Zakarpatye regions), Kazakhstan (Eastern Kazakhstan and Semipalatinsk regions), Siberia (Altay territory, Novosibirsk region, Yakutia) and the Far East (Sakhalin region).
Some endemic and semiendemic species from Central Asia, Siberia and Far East, which are notable for their winter hardiness, are maintained in collection (A. anadyrensis Soczava, A. clavata Trin., A. divaricatissima Mez, A. trinii Turcz.). A. divaricatissima Mez, represented by collections made in Mongolia, is of interest to breeding as turf culture for saline soils.
Fescue (Festuca L.). Meadow fescue (F. pratensis L., nine hundreds ninety-two accessions) is not used for creation of turf coverings.
Tall fescue (F. arundinacea Shreb.) is used in turf cultivation practice for creation of rough lawns. The foreign material is represented by varieties from France, USA, Hungary and Netherlands. The native material is represented by cultivars for fodder purposes and wild growing samples from the Baltic states (F. arundinacea Schreb. Subsp. arundinacea) and Kazakhstan and Kirgizstan (F. arundinacea subsp. orientalis (Hack.) Tzvel.). Populations of western subspecies are used for breeding of cultivars of a lawn type; the eastern subspecies is not researched from the point of view of value for turf industry (fig. 4).
Red fescue (F. rubra L.) is one of the basic species, used in lawn construction. In the collection of VIR there are the well-known turf cultivars from the Netherlands, Denmark, USA and Canada. The wild growing foreign material is represented by accessions from Hungary, Poland and Scandinavian states. Varieties, derived in the countries of the former USSR, have as a rule the fodder destination. The main part of the native wild growing material originates from NorthWest of a European part of Russia (Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Leningrad, Novgorod and Pskov regions and Karelia and Komi republics) and from Sakhalin Island and the Southern Kuril Ridge. Some materials from the Ukraine and the Northern Caucasis are also maintained.
Other species, used in turf cultivation practice (F. ovina L., F. duriuscula L. = F. trachyphylla (Hack.) Krajina, F. valesiaca Gaud.) are represented by foreign breeding varieties and rather limited amount of wild growing accessions from Europe and various regions of the former USSR.
F. valesiaca subsp. sulcata (Hack.) Nym., which is not used in turf industry, but probably is of some interest in this aspect for extra arid southeastern regions of RF and Kazakhstan, is also represented in the collection.
Ryegrass (Lolium L.). 6 species and artificial hybrids of almost extremely foreign and domestic breeding cultivars are represented in the collection. A few accessions of L. perenne L. from the Baltic States and some accessions of L. multiflorum Lam. from former Yugoslavia and Poland represent the wild growing material. The prevalence of the breeding materials of the collection indicates the high level of the cultivation practice of this crop (fig. 5).
Bluegrass (Poa L.). The main part of it consists of samples of Kentukki bluegrass (P. pratensis L.): well-known foreign varieties for lawn purposes, native cultivars and wild growing material practically from all regions of Russia and CIS (fig. 6).
Other species used in amental cultivation practice (P. compressa L., P. nemoralis L., P. palustris L., P. trivialis L.) are represented by foreign breeding cultivars; P. palustis L. is also represented by the collections from Kazakhstan and the North-West of the European part of Russia.
Winter hardiness Siberian, Central Asian and Far Eastern species, represented in the collections of VIR, are of certain interest for breeding: P. tibetica Munro ex Stampf., P. sibirica Roshev. and P. macrocalyx Trautv.
The analysis of the geographical distribution of the accessions indicate, that the North of the European Part of the former USSR, Eastern Siberia, Far East and Kazakhstan and Central Asian States are mostly explored for all cultures. Nevertheless some regions are not covered or poorly covered by collection from the field trips, such as the Center of the European part of Russia, the Northern Caucasis, the Ural Region and West Siberia (fig. 7).