Buffalograss [Buchloe dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.] is a warm-season grass native to the Great Plains of North America (Wenger, 1943), and is commonly established from burs containing three to five caryopses (Beard, 1973; Quinn, 1987; Riordan et al., 1993). Most buffalograss is commercially treated with KNO3 followed by chilling to overcome dormancy (Fry, 1995), which increases germination from 10% to 80% (Riordan et al., 1997).
Optimum spring seeding dates for buffalograss cultivars have been determined at various locations in the United States. The optimal date of planting was April to May for ‘Sharp’s Improved’ buffalograss in Kansas (Fry et al., 1993), whereas fastest establishment in Colorado occurred with seeding in late May (Falkenberg, 1982). Buffalograss established when ‘Cody’ buffalograss was seeded from late April through June in Nebraska and late April through July in Utah, but not when seeded in August, September, or October at either site (Frank et al., 1998).
Recommended buffalograss seeding rates are inconsistent in the literature, indicating that optimal seeding rates likely vary among cultivars. For instance, Gaitan-Gaitan et al. (1999) recommended seeding ‘Texoka’ and ‘Comanche’ at 177 kg·ha−1, whereas Riordan et al. (1997) recommended seeding ‘Hays’ at 98 kg·ha−1. Shearman et al. (2005) tested the later-developed turf-type cultivar ‘Bowie’, and suggested seeding rates at 200 to 400 kg·ha−1 for rapid establishment when seeded in July.
Dormant seeding is defined as seeding late enough in the fall or winter so germination is not expected until soils warm in spring. Dormant seeding is commonly used throughout the Midwest and northern Great Plains of the United States for establishing cool-season turfgrasses, but dormant seeding of buffalograss has not been evaluated. Green et al. (1974) summarized the suitability of cool- and warm-season species for dormant winter seeding, suggesting higher seeding rates should be used for dormant seeding of cool-season grasses to achieve better vegetative cover and to reduce seed loss via winter erosion. However, dormant seeding warm-season bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] or weeping lovegrass [Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees] was not successful in that study. More recent work using improved cultivars of common bermudagrass, such as Princess-77, Riviera, and Yukon, showed that dormant seeding can be successful (Richardson et al., 2004; Shaver et al., 2006).
Dormant seeding should allow warm-season buffalograss to germinate as soon in the spring as weather permits, unhindered by labor or weather difficulties that could delay seeding. Earlier germination of buffalograss should allow it to take advantage of early summer precipitation and compete well with summer annual weeds. Furthermore, dormant seeding can increase flexibility in labor scheduling during the busy spring for professionals. However, dormant seeding of buffalograss has not been evaluated in previous research. Our first objective was to determine how seeding rate affects establishment of ‘Sundancer’ buffalograss when dormant or spring-seeded. Our second objective was to determine if cultivar or seeding date affects establishment of the recently developed ‘Cody’, ‘Bowie’, or ‘Sundancer’ buffalograss when seeded at various dates during the winter and spring.
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