Bermudagrass (Cynodon sp.) is widely grown throughout the southern United States for recreational and aesthetic purposes. Bermudagrass provides a heat- and drought-tolerant turfgrass that exhibits vigorous growth and good wear tolerance. Bermudagrass is also a popular selection for athletic fields and golf courses because of the speed in which it establishes and recuperates (McCarty and Miller, 2002). Turf managers are often faced with the need to establish turfgrass rapidly to keep athletic surfaces in play and maximize their use.
Establishment of bermudagrass from sprigs on large acreage sites provides an economical propagation method compared with sod. Although much research has focused on bermudagrass seeding rates for establishment (Munshaw et al., 2001; Patton et al., 2004), very little information is available concerning optimum sprigging rates for bermudagrass. Noer (1965) recommended a minimum rate of 100 U.S. bushels (bu)/acre and reported excellent cover in 3 weeks. Johnson (1973) sprigged ‘Tifway’ hybrid bermudagrass at a low, medium, and high rate (870, 1740, and 3480 ft3/acre) and found quicker cover with higher sprigging rates. Duble (1989) recommended rates of 218 to 653 bu/acre to reach full cover within 10 to 12 weeks after sprigging. For quicker establishment, he recommended sprigging rates up to 1089 bu/acre. The lower rates recommended by Duble (1989) are common recommendations for several extension publications (Han and Huckabay, 2008; Relf, 2009; Samples and Sorochan, 2007). The common logic across many of these publications is that higher sprigging rates result in faster establishment than lower rates (Brede, 2000; Duble, 1989).
The effect of N on bermudagrass establishment has been well documented; however, there appear to be large discrepancies in recommended N rates for establishing vegetative cultivars. Recommended N rates from previous establishment studies on ‘Tifway’ hybrid bermudagrass range from 44 lb/acre per month (Dudeck et al., 1985; Johnson, 1973) to 271 lb/acre per month (Guertal and Hicks, 2009). However, a study looking at establishment of ‘Tifway’ and ‘Latitude 36’ hybrid bermudagrass showed that high N rates (175 lb/acre N per month) were only beneficial shortly after planting, and lower N rates were equally effective for establishment as the study progressed (Munshaw and Woosley, 2014). Although discrepancies in N recommendations during bermudagrass establishment exist, most agree that at least some N is required to improve establishment.
Because very little scientific based information exists on newer cultivars regarding optimum sprigging and N rates during bermudagrass establishment, a study was conducted to examine these factors across four locations in the United States for the new cultivar Latitude 36. Therefore, the objective of this study was to characterize the effect of the combination of sprigging and N rates on bermudagrass establishment in the areas throughout the southern and transitional climatic zones of the United States.
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