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G.C. Munshaw, X. Zhang and E.H. Ervin

Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is widely used along its northern limit of adaptation. However, cold hardiness and winter survival are common concerns facing turfgrass managers in these areas. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of moderate salinity applications on bermudagrass cold hardiness. Two trials were conducted in Summer 2002. The cultivar Princess was seeded into pots in a glasshouse at a rate of 24 kg·ha-1. Pots received a weekly solution of 20-20-20 at a rate of 4.9 kg·ha-1 N. Bi-weekly salinity treatments began ≈2 months after germination and consisted of 0, 5, 20, and 40 dS·m-1 in the form of NaCl. These treatments continued for ≈8 weeks. Weekly quality ratings and chlorophyll fluorescence measurements showed similar results, with the high salinity treatments having the poorest quality. Soil electrical conductivity measurements showed a significant increase for the high salinity rates over the lower rates at the end of the trials. Proline concentrations increased with increasing salinity treatments in Trial 1 and were highest with the 20 dS·m-1 rate in Trial 2. Plants were acclimated in a growth chamber, and artificial freezing tests revealed that the 5 and 20 dS·m-1 treatments had the highest percentage of regrowth after freezing. These results indicate that moderate applications of salt or the use of effluent water prior to hardening may be an important way to increase bermudagrass cold hardiness.