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- Author or Editor: Benjamin G. Wherley x
Landscape irrigation frequency restrictions are commonly imposed by water purveyors and municipalities to curtail domestic water use and to ensure adequate water supplies for growing populations during times of drought. Currently, published data are lacking concerning irrigation frequency requirements necessary for sustaining acceptable levels of turfgrass quality of commonly used warm-season turfgrass species. The objective of this 3-year field study was to determine comparative turfgrass quality of drought-resistant cultivars of four warm-season lawn species in the south–central United States under irrigation frequency regimes of 0, 1, 2, 4, and 8× monthly. Turfgrasses used in the study were based on previously reported drought resistance and included ‘Riley’s Super Sport’ (Celebration®) bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], ‘Palisades’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.), ‘Floratam’ st. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze], and ‘SeaStar’ seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). During each growing season, slightly reduced irrigation volumes and bypassed events resulted from the 8× monthly treatment (34.95 cm, 38.13 cm, and 27.33 cm) compared with the 4× monthly treatment (35.36 cm, 40.84 cm, and 28.70 cm) in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively. For the once weekly treatment, the average fraction of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) supplied by effective rainfall and irrigation during the summer months was 1.22, 0.67, and 0.83 in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively, and was generally adequate to support acceptable turfgrass quality of all warm-season turfgrasses evaluated. Under the less than weekly irrigation frequency, st. augustinegrass and seashore paspalum generally fell to below acceptable quality levels because the average fraction of ETo supplied by effective rainfall and irrigation during the summer months of years 2 and 3 was 0.51, 0.39, and 0.26 for the 2× monthly, 1× monthly, and unirrigated treatments, respectively. Bermudagrass generally outperformed all other species under the most restrictive irrigation frequencies and also did not differ statistically from zoysiagrass. These results show that as irrigation frequency is restricted to less than once per week, species selection becomes an important consideration.
As the need for landscape and golf course water conservation increases, use of low-quality irrigation water combined with deficit irrigation practices is becoming more common. Information is lacking concerning the effects of water quality on bermudagrass response to deficit irrigation, as well as the extent to which plant growth regulators may ameliorate or delay the negative effects of water stress on warm-season turfgrass. The objectives of this 10-week greenhouse study were to 1) characterize growth, quality, and evapotranspiration (ET) of ‘Tifway’ bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. traansvalensis Burt Davy) when irrigated at full (1.0 × ETa) or deficit (0.3 × ETa) levels of actual turfgrass evapotranspiration (ETa) using three irrigation water sources [reverse osmosis (RO), sodic potable, and saline] and 2) determine whether application of trinexapac-ethyl (TE) could mitigate turfgrass quality decline under deficit irrigation. Results indicated that turf irrigated with sodic irrigation water exhibited significantly elevated ETa and shoot growth compared with turf receiving RO or saline irrigation water in both studies. Irrigation water source affected turfgrass quality differently at each irrigation level. TE application improved turfgrass quality and/or delayed firing under soil moisture stress in both studies, with the greatest benefit noted under the less intense conditions of the spring experiment. Elevated canopy temperatures were observed within all deficit irrigation treatments, regardless of water chemistry. Results demonstrate that irrigation water quality may influence turfgrass ET rates. In addition, they suggest that trinexapac-ethyl may offer short-term mitigation of drought stress under deficit irrigation.
As a result of increasing demand for potable water, local and national initiatives to conserve municipal water supplies have been implemented. Many of these initiatives focus on reducing irrigation of turfgrass in urban landscapes and may totally ban irrigation during periods of severe water shortage. Proper selection of adapted turfgrass species and cultivars is vital to long-term water conservation initiatives. Turfgrasses that can survive and recover from extended hot and dry periods under limited to no irrigation would best meet water conservation objectives. The present study was conducted to evaluate the recuperative potential of transplanted plugs of 24 commonly grown cultivars of three warm-season turfgrass species after incremental increases in water stress imposed by withholding all water for up to 60 days. A 2-year field study was conducted consisting of eight blocks containing 25 plots each. Each block was planted with one plot each of eight cultivars of bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon sp.), seven cultivars of st. augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum sp.), and nine cultivars of zoysiagrass (five of Zoysia japonica sp. and four of Zoysia matrella sp.). Four blocks were planted on native soil with no restriction to rooting, whereas the other four had an effective root zone of only 10 cm of soil. Cup cutter plugs were collected at predetermined intervals, transported to College Station, TX, replanted, and grown under well-watered conditions. Measurements of the lateral spread of the plugs were taken every 10 to 14 days for the first 60 to 70 days after planting (DAP). The lateral spread of plugs collected after 0 days of summer dry-down (DSD) was greatest for bermudagrass, intermediate for st. augustinegrass, and lowest for zoysiagrass. In most cases there were no consistent differences between cultivars within a species. All species grown on the 10-cm deep root zone were unable to survive the 60-day period without water and died within the first 40 days. For each species, lateral spread was increasingly delayed or reduced with increasing DSD. Although all three species grown on native soil were able to survive and recover from a 60-day period without water, the bermudagrass cultivars had the most rapid recovery rates measured as lateral spread of transplanted plugs.