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  • Author or Editor: Frank Bethea Jr. x
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Foliar fertilization is a common practice to deliver nitrogen (N) to turfgrasses. The mechanisms of foliar applied nutrient uptake, particularly the effects of the leaf cuticle layer, have not been clearly characterized in turfgrasses. The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of acute moisture stress on the morphological and compositional components of the cuticle and the resulting effect on foliar-applied N absorption. Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) was irrigated to return 100% or 50% evapotranspiration rate (ET) for 10 days to examine cuticular modifications resulting from acute moisture stress and foliar N uptake with and without a surfactant. Acute water stress increased the total cuticle wax by 11%, mostly as a result of the compound 1-hexacosanol, and increased crystalloid density creating a rougher leaf surface. The 50% ET treatment significantly reduced recovery of 15N-labeled urea by 14%, which was attributed to the increased total cuticle wax and crystalloid density making the surface less receptive to foliar applications. The surfactant addition to the urea solution increased 15N-labeled urea recovery by 21% and absorption of 15N in 50% ET plants to levels consistent with the 100% ET plants. These results suggest that acute moisture stress modifies the cuticle wax load and morphology, thereby hindering foliar absorption; however, a surfactant addition can help to mitigate this effect and increase absorption of N.

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As a result of the increasing popularity of fine-leafed zoysiagrasses on golf courses, a 2-year field study was conducted to assess ‘Diamond’ zoysiagrass [Zoysia matrella (L.) Merr.] putting green performance at The Cliff’s Communities Turfgrass Research Facility in Marietta, SC. Factors included four nitrogen (N) fertility rates and two trinexapac-ethyl (TE) regimes. Foliar applications of 0, 4.9, 9.8, and 14.7 kg·ha−1 N were made once weekly for 7 and 15 weeks in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Trinexapac-ethyl was tank-mixed and applied weekly for 7 weeks during July to August at 0 or 0.017 kg a.i./ha totaling 0.120 kg a.i./ha for both growing seasons. Putting green performance was measured by assessing turf quality (TQ), ball roll distance (BRD), surface firmness (SF), leaf tissue nutrient concentrations, and thatch accumulation. Turfgrasses receiving 4.9 kg N/ha weekly exhibited acceptable TQ and greater SF and BRD than plots receiving 14.7 kg N/ha weekly on all rating dates in 2010 before seasonal dormancy. Trinexapac-ethyl reduced clipping yield by 15% to 43% and influenced BRD, SF, and tissue nutrient concentration across the 2-year study. Surface firmness decreased as total N input increased during the 2010 growing season and is presumably the result of an increase in leaf tissue causing a cushioned putting surface. Linear regression of thatch accumulation and SF were analyzed and found to be significant at four rating dates in 2010 indicating that as thatch organic matter increased, SF decreased. Nitrogen input for ‘Diamond’ zoysiagrass putting greens grown in the transition zone should begin at 73.5 kg·ha−1/year with supplemental N applications applied as needed.

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