Many athletic field managers use bermudagrass based on its quality characteristics and production of rhizomes and stolons that allow it to spread naturally and provide a superior playing surface when properly managed. Historically, bermudagrass was vegetatively propagated, but many newer-seeded cultivars exhibit excellent quality and have become popular alternatives to vegetatively propagated cultivars.
Wear stress occurs on all athletic fields but is often more severe in the center of football and soccer fields. The severity of damage depends on factors such as the number of events per season, the size of the athletes, and the soil moisture status during use (Powell, 2007). Traffic-stressed turf exhibits discoloration and bare areas that are unsightly and can contribute to increased player injuries. These stressed areas often require some level of annual renovation to provide an acceptable playing surface in subsequent seasons.
Research has shown there are various methods of increasing wear tolerance in turfgrass. The use of cultivars that exhibit higher wear tolerance is one important way of reducing wear stress. As with other traits, turfgrasses differ not only among species in wear tolerance but among cultivars as well. Samaranayake et al. (2008) reported that creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) and velvet bentgrass (Agrostis canina) differed in wear tolerance, with many velvet bentgrass cultivars tolerating stress better than creeping bentgrass cultivars. Bayrer (2006) reported significant differences among three seeded and one vegetative cultivar of bermudagrass under simulated high traffic regimes. Goddard et al. (2008) found differences in wear tolerance among bermudagrasses, with ‘Riviera’ and ‘Tifway’ outperforming ‘Quickstand’ and they also found that applications of crumb rubber improved wear tolerance.
It is believed the effects of the plant growth regulator, trinexapac-ethyl (TE) could also be positive. The application of TE on bermudagrass has become a common practice based on research over the past decade showing numerous beneficial effects. Studies on dwarf-type bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis) commonly used on golf course greens have shown TE to increase stolon and rhizome mass, stand color, nutrient retention and use efficiency, root growth, and golf ball roll while decreasing clippings from mowing (McCullough et al., 2006a, 2006b, 2007). Studies on other cultivars have shown TE to increase the total green period of bermudagrass so that it stays green longer in the autumn and comes out of dormancy quicker in the spring, and to increase stolons, density, and quality at higher temperatures (Ervin and Zhang, 2007; Fagerness et al., 2002; Richardson, 2002).
Previous studies have not evaluated several of the present commercially available cultivars of seeded bermudagrass. Additionally, the direct effects of TE applications on traffic tolerance among cultivars have not been elucidated. The objective of this study was to investigate the tolerance of seeded bermudagrass cultivars with and without applications of TE to simulated athletic traffic. In particular, this work is aimed at evaluation of these treatments under conditions similar to high-use athletic facilities in the transitional climatic zone.
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