Impact of Management Practices on Cold Tolerance of Ultradwarf Bermudagrass Putting Greens

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Virginia Tech

Low temperature injury is among the greatest challenges facing golf courses with ultradwarf bermudagrass (UDB) (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. x C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy) putting greens in Virginia. This research focused on the impact of turf covers, fungicide programming, core aeration, and trinexapac-ethyl (TE) on UDB cold tolerance, winter quality, and cold de-acclimation (CD). Our results indicate that the use of turf covers significantly increased UDB canopy and soil temperatures when air temperatures were below -3.9°C. Air gaps under covers and the use of double turf covers increased soil and canopy temperatures compared to single covers alone in some instances, but results were inconsistent. Late fall and early winter fungicide applications of chlorothalonil and azoxystrobin improved UDB quality throughout winter dormancy and spring green up. The addition of a pigmented phosphonate significantly improved winter and spring UDB quality. The addition of acibenzolar-S-methyl to fungicide programs did not improve winter UDB quality or spring green up. Summer core aeration programs were evaluated for their impact on spring green up, turfgrass quality, surface firmness, and moisture retention. Spring UDB green up was improved incrementally as surface disruption increased. Treatments with 20%, 15%, and 10% surface disruption produced higher color vs treatments with lower surface disruption. Surface firmness and volumetric water content of UDB were impacted by construction method but were not significantly impacted by core aeration programs. Field research revealed that 'fall only' and 'fall and winter' TE applications improved UDB quality but only 'fall and winter' delayed UDB premature CD in early spring when UDB can be susceptible to low temperature injury. Growth chamber studies evaluated the impact of TE on UDB cold tolerance to -9.4°C x time duration. Regression analysis predicted a 50% mortality exposure point for UDB under TE treatments of 9.84 hours at -9.4°C (r2=0.836) compared to 11.38 hours at -9.4°C (r2=0.671) for non-treated UDB during cold acclimation. Winter and spring scenarios resulted in delayed CD under TE but no differences in cold tolerance when exposed to -9.4°C. Together, these results increase our understanding of the impact of management practices on UDB winter quality, CD, and low temperature injury.

ultradwarf, bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.× C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy, winterkill, trinexapac-ethyl, turf cover, aeration, fungicide, acibenzolar, acibenzolar-s-methyl