Water conservation efforts have recently intensified in the arid Southwest as a result of increases in urbanization and local drought conditions, which have resulted in reduced amounts of water available for irrigating turfgrass (Ervin and Koski, 1998; Kjelgren et al., 2000). The fact that urban expansion is occurring simultaneously with overuse of water supplies (i.e., the Ogallala Aquifer) has created a challenge for water conservation in this region (Rodiek, 1984; Sophocleous, 2012). Therefore, exploration of species with increased drought tolerance is advantageous.
The present water supply concerns in western Texas and other areas of the arid Southwest have led to the examination of buffalograss as a viable option for managed turfgrass environments (Frank et al., 2002, 2004). Research efforts have identified buffalograss as a reduced irrigation and fertilization input turfgrass relative to traditional turfgrass species grown in the arid Southwest (Frank et al., 2004). Qian and Engelke (1999) reported that ‘Prairie’ buffalograss only required 26% irrigation based on pan evaporation to maintain acceptable turfgrass quality over a four-year period. Henry et al. (2005) observed that buffalograss performed equally at 100% and 70% of calculated evapotranspiration when receiving 0.98 kg/100 m2 or 1.96 kg/100 m2 of nitrogen fertility, respectively. Wu and Lin (1994) characterized the salt tolerance of buffalograss as moderate and attributed this response to an exclusion mechanism found in root tissue. Recent breeding efforts led to the release of improved turf-type buffalograss varieties such as ‘Cody’ and ‘Bowie’ in 2005 (Severmutlu et al., 2005a, 2005b). These new varieties were denser, finer-textured, and adapted to a wider range of environments compared with older varieties when tested in the 1991 and 1996 National Turfgrass Evaluation Program buffalograss trials (Morris, 1996). Increases in appearance and adaptability of buffalograss through breeding efforts have further enhanced its acceptance as a viable turfgrass option for home lawns and golf courses (Kenworthy et al., 1999; Koski et al., 2001; Zhang et al., 2007).
Buffalograss is typically established from seed as a result of increased availability, reduced cost, and ease of application (Fry, 1995; Wu et al., 1989). Recommended seeding rates range from 147 to 294 kg·ha−1 (Fry, 1995; Gaitan-Gaitan et al., 1999; Harivandi and Wu, 1995; Riordan et al., 1997) depending on the cultivar and seed pre-treatment (i.e., deburring) (Shearman et al., 2005). Buffalograss seed burrs are difficult to degrade and contain oil that may inhibit germination and seedling development (Ahring and Todd, 1977; Gaitan-Gaitan et al., 1999; Harivandi and Wu, 1995; Hickey et al., 1983; Riordan et al., 1997; Shearman et al., 2005; Wenger, 1943). Although sufficient work on seeding rates has been conducted, minimal research has been conducted on the influence of cultural practices on establishment.
Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is the primary warm-season turfgrass species grown in the United States (Christians, 2011). The abundant production of aggressive rhizomes and stolons enables bermudagrass to tolerate wear and recover from stress (Beard, 1973; Youngner, 1961); however, this may also make it difficult to control during conversion to buffalograss.
Traditional renovation practices usually involve the desiccation of existing turfgrass through the application of a non-selective herbicide followed by seedbed preparation (Turgeon, 2011). Jordan (1977) reported 91% bermudagrass control 21 d after treatment in response to glyphosate applied at 1.1 kg ae/ha in the greenhouse. However, Johnson (1988) noted that three applications (May, June, and August) of glyphosate at 2.2 kg ae/ha were necessary to reduce bermudagrass cover of ‘Tifway’, ‘Tifgreen’, ‘Tifdwarf’, and ‘Ormond’ to less than 2% one year after treatment. Griffin et al. (1994) observed similar results (greater than 95% control) of common bermudagrass in response to sequential applications of glyphosate (2.2 kg ae/ha) in June, July, and September. Multiple applications of glyphosate are commonly recommended as an effective method for the conversion of turfgrass sites (Hartwiger, 2007; Roundup Pro® Specimen Label, 2010).
The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of seedbed preparation methods and seeding rate on the establishment of buffalograss after bermudagrass desiccation with glyphosate. Results may provide turfgrass managers insight into effective conversion practices for the establishment of buffalograss.
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