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  • Author or Editor: Eric J. Koeritz x
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John C. Stier, Eric J. Koeritz and Mark Garrison

Sports field construction contracts in cool-season areas often stipulate a 9- to 12-month period between seeding and opening for play. Seed mixtures are usually dominated by slow-establishing Kentucky bluegrass (KBG; Poa pratensis L.) and contain lower proportions of perennial ryegrass (PRG; Lolium perenne L.) for quick cover. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of planting time on three KBG : PRG mixes, a 100% PRG blend, and their ability to sustain football-type traffic. Field plots were seeded in late summer, as a dormant planting in late fall, and in the following spring. Plots received simulated football traffic, split for one or four weekly games, from mid-August through mid-November of the year in which spring seeding occurred. The experimental design was a strip-split-plot, randomized block with four replications. The study was repeated a second year. All seeding dates provided acceptable turf quality regardless of seed type by September. However, summer seedings of KBG-based mixtures provided better turf quality than mixtures planted in the spring, whereas dormant-seeded mixtures provided the poorest turf quality. Turf seeded with 100% PRG was less sensitive to seeding date, with summer or spring seedings providing similar quality and dormant seedings superior to KBG-based dormant seedings. Summer seedings also resulted in the least amount of broadleaf weeds the next year with dormant seedings having the most weeds, particularly with plots seeded to 95% KBG. All KBG-based seed mixtures provided turf containing ≈50% KBG or more by September, although the amount of KBG remaining after traffic was significantly greatest in plots seeded to 95% KBG and least in plots seeded with 70% KBG. Pure PRG swards provided acceptable turf quality throughout the traffic period but should be used cautiously as a result of winterkill potential and crown rust disease (Puccinia coronata Corda f. sp. agropyri Erikss.). Different amounts of traffic did not affect turf species proportions. The most consistently desirable results may be obtained with a mixture containing 70% to 80% KBG and 30% to 20% PRG, respectively. Mixtures dominated by KBG should be seeded in late summer for best results.