Winter survival of bermudagrass (Cynodon sp.) as influenced by traffic, mineral nutrition, plastic covers, cultural treatments, overseeding and freezing in late-winter dormancy

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The most important problem in using bermudagrass (Cynodon sp.) for turf at the northern limit of its adaptation is winter survival. Bermudagrass used for athletic complexes is exposed to the additional problem of uncontrolled or excessive traffic. This research was conducted to determine the effects of: 1) traffic and mineral nutrition; 2) clear plastic covers and cultural treatments and; 3) overseeding and late winter freezing on bermudagrass winter survival.

Four separate experiments were conducted on field cultured Midiron bermudagrass. Various regimes of traffic, N and K fertility, clear plastic covers, cultural treatments and growth regulators were utilized to determine their affect on bermudagrass winter survival. A laboratory freeze was used, in two experiments, on plant samples taken from the field. Following the freezing procedure, the samples were then grown in the greenhouse.

From these experiments, it was found that traffic applied just as turf growth initiates in the spring was the most damaging. Potassium fertility had no effect on post dormancy growth. Nitrogen did improve post dormancy growth of bermudagrass exposed to a late winter laboratory freeze and when plastic covers were applied during winter dormancy. Plastic covers enhanced post dormancy growth and offset the detrimental effect of imposed traffic. 'Stayz Green' turf colorant did increase early post dormancy growth. While, the cultivation treatments using a vertical mower alone and with an aerifier reduced early green up. Flurprimidal reduced early post dormancy growth of bermudagrass; while, mefluidide had no detrimental effect. Both growth regulators reduced the growth of the overseeded ryegrass, and mefluidide enhanced the competitiveness of bermudagrass in the ryegrass canopy.