Turfgrass is an integral and significant part of the landscape, and enhances its beauty when established and managed properly. Weed control in turfgrass is typically based on the use of chemical herbicides (Raikes et al., 1994). Using nonchemical means would reduce dependence on synthetic pesticides (Busey, 2003). Flame weeding could be an alternative to the use of selective herbicides and would also eliminate the risk of chemical residues in the turfgrass. This is in accordance with the European Union, which requires member states to minimize or prohibit chemical herbicides in public parks and gardens, sports and recreational areas, school gardens and children’s playgrounds, as well as in the close vicinity of healthcare facilities (European Union, 2009).
The response of plants to flaming varies according to species, growth stage, leaf surface moisture, flaming dose, and temperature of the flame and air (Ulloa et al., 2010). Regardless of the growth stage, broadleaf weeds are more susceptible to flaming than grass species. Plant survival after flaming is largely dependent on the plant’s ability to regrow. The annual broadleaf generally desiccates completely a few days after flaming, whereas the grassy species generate new leaves after 1 or 2 weeks (Ulloa et al., 2010). These considerations justify the investigation concerning the use of flaming as a weed control strategy in turfgrasses.
The presence of weeds in turfgrass depends on the competitive ability of the turf (Watschke and Engel, 1994). Hybrid bermudagrass is a warm-season grass species used in warm/temperate regions of the world for lawns and sports turfs (Magni et al., 2014b). It is particularly adaptable to warm temperatures and drought, is tolerant to wear and tear, and is also competitive against weeds. Hybrid bermudagrass has excellent heat tolerance and recovery properties resulting from the abundance of stolons and rhizomes (Adamipour et al., 2016; McCarty and Miller, 2002; Volterrani et al., 1997).
The tolerance of ‘Patriot’ hybrid bermudagrass to flaming was tested in laboratory conditions (Fontanelli et al., 2017). Early-growth-stage plants were transplanted into trays and flamed on a test bench. Results showed that the plants were tolerant (no injury) to LPG doses of about 30 to 40 kg·ha–1. Injury occurred for doses greater than 40 kg·ha–1. This suggested that in mature, established turfgrasses, which have a network of rhizomes and stolons under the ground, the doses tolerated are likely to be greater because flaming can kill only the aerial part of the plant, and a mature turf can regrow from reserve organs (Fontanelli et al., 2017).
No information is available on the effects of flaming for controlling weeds on a mature turfgrass of ‘Patriot’ hybrid bermudagrass. The aim of this study was to test flaming in ‘Patriot’ hybrid bermudagrass for weed control. This would allow turfgrass managers to use flaming as a substitute for chemical herbicide.
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