Winter overseeding of dormant bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon sp.) athletic turf has been a common practice in the transition zone and southern United States. Winter overseeding provides an actively growing cool-season turfgrass stand that provides green color during winter dormancy as well as a functional recreational turf (Kopec and Umeda, 2014). However, maintaining a healthy stand of overseeded turf requires regular irrigation or precipitation, and therefore has become more of a challenge in some areas of the country where municipal water restrictions may now limit winter irrigation to once per 7 to 14 d, or even prohibit winter overseeding entirely (City of Allen, TX, 2015; San Antonio Water System, 2013). Little is known regarding the potential for perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) or annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) to persist under these infrequent irrigation schedules, and in light of increased water restrictions and reduced budgets, many turf managers have begun to explore turf colorants as an alternative to overseeding.
While perennial ryegrass has been the primary cool-season turfgrass used for winter overseeding of athletic turf, turf-type annual ryegrasses have been developed in recent years. These improved annual ryegrasses possess finer texture and improved color relative to older annual ryegrass cultivars such as Gulf and improved spring transition relative to perennial ryegrass. Nelson et al. (2005) compared the performance and quality of ‘Axcella’ and ‘Panterra’ annual ryegrass with perennial ryegrass cultivars and reported more rapid (≈1 month earlier) transition with turf-type annual ryegrasses, although turf quality was slightly inferior to perennial ryegrass. Trappe et al. (2012) compared traffic effects on annual ryegrass, intermediate ryegrass, tetraploid ryegrass, and perennial ryegrass and found that the timing and duration of traffic had less effect on perennial ryegrass as compared with the other ryegrasses. Data regarding comparative performance of turf-type annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass cultivars would be useful for guiding more appropriate overseeding species selection.
Turfgrass colorants have become more widely used as an alternative to winter overseeding in recent years, particularly on warm-season golf course greens, tees, and fairways (Hartwiger and O’Brien, 2013; Van Dam and Kurtz, 1971) as well as athletic fields (Miller and Pinnix, 2014). The rise in colorant use may be partially related to water conservation efforts as well as reduced operation budgets. The cost of colorant application has been shown to be two to three times less than overseeding (Carson, 2004; Liu et al., 2007). Some turf managers have reported more rapid and consistent spring green-up due to colorant application, likely a result of elevated canopy temperatures of colorant-treated turf during the early spring green-up period (Liu et al., 2007; Long et al., 2005; Shearman and Beard, 1975; Shearman et al., 2005). While there are advantages to using colorants as an alternative to overseeding, there could also be disadvantages. Nonoverseeded warm-season turfgrass fields that are under heavy winter traffic may benefit more from overseeding due to the protection offered by the actively growing cool-season turfgrass. Significantly reduced quality of nonoverseeded dormant ‘Midiron’ bermudagrass (C. dactylon × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy) during October and November was reported due to simulated winter traffic, with injury disrupting uniformity and delaying green-up (Deaton and Williams, 2010; Dunn et al., 1994; Thoms et al., 2011).
The objectives of this 2-year field study were to evaluate effects of winter treatments overseeding and colorant application on performance (green cover, surface hardness, and soil moisture attributes), turfgrass injury resulting from simulated traffic, and spring transition of ‘Tifway’ bermudagrass under a 1-day per week irrigation schedule.
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