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Daniel Hargey, Benjamin Wherley, Andrew Malis, James Thomas and Ambika Chandra

During water conservation periods, municipal water purveyors often limit irrigation for established lawns to once every 7 to 14 days, although a 4- to 6-week variance to these restrictions is often permitted for turfgrass establishment. Therefore, establishment practices promoting rapid development of a deep and expansive root system during this time may support long-term success of the turf once irrigation is scaled back. Sod producers and turf managers could benefit from information on the influence of mowing practices and plant growth regulator (PGR) applications on turf root development during this initial establishment period. The objectives of this greenhouse study were to 1) evaluate the effects of mowing and trinexapac-ethyl (TE) application on final turf quality and root development characteristics (weight, total length, and extension rate) of st. augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) sod during a 35-day establishment period, and 2) compare the quality and rooting potential of ‘TamStar’, a newly released, embryo-rescue-derived cultivar possessing good drought resistance, with ‘Floratam’, the current industry standard for drought resistance. Weekly mowing reduced both total (2.5 to 90 cm) and deep (45 to 90 cm) root weight and root length in both cultivars. TE had no effect on visual quality of ‘TamStar’, but decreased turf quality in ‘Floratam’. TE reduced clipping yields of both cultivars but did not improve root development for either cultivar. Depth of maximal root extension during establishment was unaffected by cultivar, mowing, or TE treatment. At the conclusion of the 35-day establishment period, ‘TamStar’ exhibited superior turf quality and root weight relative to ‘Floratam’, but also produced higher rates of shoot growth. Results emphasize the importance of withholding mowing during st. augustinegrass establishment, particularly for improving total root length and deep root production, and also show that TE does not improve root development of st. augustinegrass during establishment.

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Daniel Hargey, Benjamin Wherley, Casey Reynolds, Richard White and Garrett Parker

Municipal water restrictions across the southern and southwestern United States have created additional challenges for maintaining safe playing surfaces on recreational turf facilities. In recent years, many cities within these regions have begun to impose irrigation restrictions during winter months. Although winter overseeding has been regularly practiced in these areas, interest and use of colorants as an alternative to overseeding has grown due to decreasing water availability and budget concerns. Data on relative performance of colorant-treated vs. overseeded dormant turf would be of interest to turf managers, because colorants may be more cost-effective and require less water than winter overseeding. The objectives of this 2-year field study were to evaluate effects of winter treatments on performance (green cover, surface hardness, and soil moisture attributes), turfgrass injury resulting from simulated traffic, and spring transition of ‘Tifway’ bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. × Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt-Davy) under a 1-day per week irrigation schedule. Treatments included 1) untreated bermudagrass, 2) fall colorant-treated bermudagrass, 3) perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) overseeded bermudagrass, and 4) turf-type annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) overseeded bermudagrass. In both years, treatment differences were detected for percent green cover, soil volumetric water content (VWC), percent visual turfgrass injury, surface hardness, and percent bermudagrass transition. Percent green cover and visual turfgrass injury levels were similar between annual and perennial ryegrass in year 1, whereas loss of green cover and greater turfgrass injury were noted in annual ryegrass during the spring of year 2. Residual benefits of fall colorant applications extended into February of year 1, but dissipated by late December of year 2, likely due to higher rainfall and warmer temperatures, which prevented full bermudagrass shoot dormancy. Overseeding reduced bermudagrass spring transition by up to 50% compared with untreated and colorant-treated plots. Fall colorant treatments did not accelerate bermudagrass transition compared with untreated plots. Results of the study demonstrate that environmental differences from season to season can impact the relative benefits derived from colorant applications, as well as the performance of annual and perennial ryegrass.