Providing adequate fertility during turf establishment from sprigs on sand-based putting greens is necessary because the soil is typically nutrient-deficient (Rodriguez et al., 2001). Furthermore, differences in fertility requirements between grass species may influence the rate and source of nutrients that are applied. Recently, ultradwarf bermudagrasses [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis (Burtt-Davy)] have become more widely used on golf course putting greens in the southeastern United States. The ultradwarfs have finer leaf texture and higher shoot density compared with dwarf bermudagrasses (McCarty and Miller, 2002).
The ultradwarf cultivar Miniverde was developed in the late 1990s (Guertal and White, 1998). It originated as an off-type mutation from one of the dwarf bermudagrass cultivars (McCarty and Canegallo, 2005) and is currently one of the most popular cultivars used on putting greens. White (1999) found ‘Miniverde’ provided the highest turf quality of any ultradwarf when annual N rates were above 290 kg·ha−1. However, there is limited information regarding ultradwarf bermudagrass establishment from sprigs.
The literature varies in terms of N rates needed to maximize establishment of ultradwarf cultivars. Establishment of nine bermudagrasses increased with N rate up to 48 kg·ha−1/month (Dudeck et al., 1985). However, increasing the rate to 62 kg·ha−1/month reduced establishment. In comparison, Trenholm et al. (1997) found that maximum coverage of ‘Floradwarf’ was achieved at an N rate of 91 kg·ha−1/month. Guertal and Evans (2006) reported that N rates of 36 to 43 kg·ha−1/week were needed to maximize the dry weight of ‘Tifeagle’ stolons, rhizomes, and roots during establishment. Their results suggest increasing N rates applied weekly may be necessary for rapid establishment of the ultradwarfs from sprigs.
Poor shade tolerance can limit ultradwarf use on shaded putting greens (Bunnell et al., 2005). The use of ‘Diamond’ [Zoysia matrella (L.) Merr.], a fine textured zoysiagrass, has been evaluated for shaded putting greens. ‘Diamond’ has superior shade tolerance compared with bermudagrass (Engelke et al., 2002). However, zoysiagrass has been shown to establish more slowly than bermudagrass (Busey and Myers, 1979; Patton et al., 2004). Busey and Myers (1979) found that the coverage rate of ‘Tifgreen’ bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis] was greater than that of Japanese zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.). Furthermore, ‘Mirage’ bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon var. dactylon (L.) Pers.] reached 100% coverage 24 d earlier than ‘Zenith’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.) (Patton et al., 2004). The slow establishment rate is perceived to be a major limitation to the use of zoysiagrass as a putting green turfgrass.
Similar to bermudagrass, increasing N rates and application frequencies have been used with limited success to maximize zoysiagrass establishment from sprigs. Carroll et al. (1997) found that applying N at 48 kg·ha−1/month to ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.) only increased coverage up to 5% compared with sprigs receiving only N at planting. These results agree with those of Richardson and Boyd (2001), who concluded N rates of 13 to 50 kg·ha−1/month had little to no effect on the establishment of ‘Meyer’. Furthermore, Stiglbauer et al. (2009) found that neither N source nor rate influenced the establishment rate of ‘Diamond’ zoysiagrass from sprigs.
Fertilizer programs consisting of various N sources and rates are often recommended for the establishment of putting greens. This requires turfgrass managers to make weekly fertilization decisions during the establishment period. Furthermore, information on granular fertilizer programs for the establishment of ultradwarf bermudagrass and fine-textured zoysiagrass is limited. Therefore, the objective of the study was to evaluate the influence of N source and rate on ‘Miniverde’ bermudagrass and ‘Diamond’ zoysiagrass establishment in the transition zone.
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