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Grady L. Miller

A survey of selected land-grant universities was conducted to gather information related to design and operation of their turfgrass research units. The objective of this survey was to help the University of Florida in planning a new research unit that will be constructed in 2004–05. The survey provided information related to turf area, building facilities, equipment, supplies, and maintenance. Type of monetary support, cost sharing, labor requirements, utilities, and capitol improvement outlays were documented. The number of support people and faculty with activities at the unit varied depending upon the location, with a mean of five research support people, two support staff, and seven faculty across all units. With the exception of fertilizers (50% donated vs. 50% purchased), most (>80%) of the chemicals, seed, and sod was donated to the units. About one-third of the monetary support for operating and general labor expenses for the units was from soft money and one-third from direct state support. Results from this survey provided ideas that could be used to design and staff a new turfgrass research unit or support for updating an existing unit. In addition, turfgrass industry representatives have an interest in the data since they provide a significant portion of the monetary support and supply of materials to turf research units.

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Grady L. Miller

The effects of several soil amendments, following a single filling of core aerification holes, on growth and transpiration of `Tifdwarf' bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt Davy] were examined during drought stress. Soil amendments had variable effects on turf quality. In general, turf grown in ZeoPro®- and Profile®-amended sand had the highest quality. Data indicated that the evaluated soil amendments have the potential to influence soil water content, ultimately influencing transpirational response to drought stress. Amended sand contained 1% to 16% more transpirable water compared with non-amended sand. Turfgrass grown in Axis®- and Isolite®-amended sand required 0.4 to 1.4 days longer to reach the endpoint (transpiration rate of drought stressed plants <12% of well-watered plants) during a period of rapid water depletion. Data from this study suggest that the total volume these amendments occupied in the root zone, following a single filling of core aerification holes in sand, may positively influence soil moisture status, resulting in an increase in drought avoidance.

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Grady L. Miller

High rates of potassium (K) are often applied in an attempt to increase stress tolerance of hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt Davy] turfs. Two field-grown bermudagrass cultivars, `Tifdwarf' and `Tifway', were used to determine the influence of applied K on plant nutrient content and nutrient retention in two soils. Six rates of K ranging from 0 to 390 kg·ha-1 were applied twice per month each growing season from 1992 to 1994. The cultivars were established on both a sand-peat (9:1 by volume) and loamy sand. Potassium chloride and K2SO4 were compared as sources of K, and were applied simultaneously with N applications. Extractable soil K and leaf tissue K concentrations increased with increasing K rates. There was a critical K fertilization level (74 to 84 kg·ha-1) for each cultivar and medium combination beyond which no increase in tissue concentration was observed. Increasing K fertilization resulted in a decrease in extractable Ca and Mg in both media with corresponding decreases in tissue Ca and Mg concentrations. High K rates appear to increase the potential for Ca and Mg deficiencies in bermudagrass, indicating that rates higher than those that provide sufficient K levels for normal growth should not be used.

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Grady L. Miller and Adam Thomas

Application of nutrients to correct nutrient deficiencies in turfgrasses are often based on tissue analysis. Previous research has indicated that near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) may be useful in tissue nutrient concentration determination since it requires minimum sample preparation and has been a reliable predictor of N concentration. The objective of this study was to evaluate the reliability of NIRS in determining P, K, Ca, and Mg concentrations in bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt Davy]. Tissue samples were collected from Florida golf courses, representing different cultivars grown under various conditions and fertilizer regimes. Tissue samples were analyzed using NIRS and traditional wet chemistry (Mehlich-1 extracts analyzed using inductively coupled argon spectrophotometer) before results were statistically compared. Results from wet chemistry analysis averaged 15% lower than those obtained from NIRS. Although results for certain cultivars and elements were positively correlated (`Tifdwarf' Ca, r 2 = 0.72; P < 0.01), precision across all cultivars and nutrients was not sufficient (accounted for only 26% of variability) to indicate that NIRS would be an effective management tool for the elements evaluated in this study.

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Ian R. Rodriguez and Grady L. Miller

Because high rates of nitrogen fertility are necessary for producing high-quality turfgrasses, quick, reliable methods of determining the N status of turfgrasses would be valuable management tools. The objective of this study was to evaluate the capacity of a hand-held chlorophyll meter (SPAD-502) to provide a relative index of chlorophyll concentrations, N concentrations, and visual quality in St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secondatum (Walt.) Kuntze]. Two experiments were conducted in a greenhouse in 1998 to evaluate the utility of SPAD readings. Established pots of `Floratam' were subjected to weekly foliar Fe treatments at Fe rates of 0 and 0.17 kg·ha–1 for 4 weeks. Six weekly nitrogen fertilizer treatments were applied in the form of ammonium sulfate at N rates of 0, 5.75, 11.5, 17.25, and 23 kg·ha–1 for 4 weeks. Greenhouse SPAD readings were not affected by Fe treatment, but N treatments resulted in differences in SPAD readings, visual quality, and chlorophyll concentrations. The readings were positively correlated with chlorophyll concentrations (r 2 = 0.79), visual ratings (r 2 = 0.74), and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) (r 2 = 0.71). Readings taken from field-grown `Floratam', `Floratine', and `Floralawn' St. Augustinegrass were poorly correlated (r 2 < 0.63) with chlorophyll concentrations and TKN. Unless future techniques improve dependability of the SPAD meter under field conditions for measuring chlorophyll and N concentration of a stand of turfgrass, the usefulness of such readings for the management of St. Augustinegrass seems limited.

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Michael S. Harrell and Grady L. Miller

The benefits of composted yard waste applied as a mulch were demonstrated in a field study at two locations and supporting greenhouse research. Compost was applied to eroded roadside slopes of about 12° and 27° to determine the influence on soil displacement and establishment and/or enhancement of permanent roadside vegetation. Treatments consisted of compost rates of 5 cm and planted with asiastic jasmine (Trachelopermum asiaticum), 5 and 10 cm, seeded with 110 or 220 kg·ha–1 80:20 bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge): bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) seed mix by weight, straw erosion control mats, and bahiagrass sod. Compost treatments effectively controlled soil displacement regardless of compost rate or seeding with turfgrass at both locations. Effects on roadside vegetation and visual quality varied with location. Asiatic jasmine did not establish at either site. Compost mulch applications increased total vegetation, turfgrass density, and quality at the site with 27° slope and 4% initial soil organic matter content, but resulted in a decline in cover at the site with a 12° slope and <1% organic matter content. Compost mulch can effectively prevent soil displacement from roadside slopes, but may not promote establishment or enhancement of permanent vegetative cover.

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Ian R. Rodriguez, Grady L. Miller and L.B. McCarty

For drainage, turfgrass is often established on sand-based soils, which are typically nutrient-deficient and require supplemental fertilization. The objective of this study was to determine the optimum N-P-K fertilizer ratio for establishing bermudagrass from sprigs in sand. `FloraDwarf' and `Tifdwarf' bermudagrasses [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burt-Davy] were sprigged on a United States Golf Association (USGA) green [85 sand: 15 peat (v/v)] in Aug. 1996 at the Univ. of Florida's Envirogreen in Gainesville, Fla. `TifEagle' bermudagrass was sprigged on a USGA green [85 sand: 15 peat (v/v)] and `Tifway' bermudagrass [C. dactylon (L.) Pers.] was sprigged on native soil at Clemson Univ. in Clemson, S.C. in May 1999. Treatments consisted of fertilizer ratios of 1N-0P-0.8K, 1N-0P-1.7K, 1N-0.4P-0.8K, 1N-0.9P-0.8K, and 1N-1.3P-0.8K applied based on a N rate of 49 kg·ha-1/week for 7 weeks. Growth differences were apparent among cultivars. A 1N-0P-0.8K or 1N-0P-1.7K ratio is insufficient for optimum growth of bermudagrass during establishment, even when planted on a soil high in P. Increased coverage rate with additional P was optimized at a ratio of 1N-0.4P at all four sites. Increased coverage with P was greatest on the sand-based greens, probably due to the very low initial P levels of the soils. On two of the sand-based greens, P in excess of a 1N-0.4P ratio decreased coverage rate.

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Jason D. Hinton, David P. Livingston III, Grady L. Miller, Charles H. Peacock and Tan Tuong

Winter-hardiness of zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp.) cultivars is an important attribute throughout the biogeographical transition zone; thus, the inability to withstand freezing temperatures may limit the use of these cultivars. The objective of this research was to determine the freeze tolerance (LT50) of nine zoysiagrass cultivars grown in Raleigh, NC. Four Zoysia japonica Steud. cultivars (JaMur, Palisades, Empire, and Ultimate) and five Zoysia matrella (L.) Merr. cultivars (Pristine, Zeon, Cavalier, Diamond, and Zorro) were chosen to undergo freeze testing. Cores were taken from the field in Feb. 2008, 2009, and 2010 for the winter trials and in Apr. 2008, 2009, and 2010 for the spring trials (after green-up had occurred). The cores were subjected to freeze treatments of –6, –8, –10, –12, and –14 °C in programmable freezers. After thawing, cores were placed in a 41/20 °C greenhouse to promote green-up. Cores were rated for green-up after 4 weeks on a 1 to 9 scale. Nonlinear regression analysis was used to calculate an LT50 value for each cultivar. ‘JaMur’, ‘Palisades’, ‘Empire’, and ‘Ultimate’ were no different in the winter trials with an LT50 ranging from –9.8 to 10.2 °C. Among the matrella species, ‘Zeon’, ‘Cavalier’, and ‘Zorro’ were no different but ‘Diamond’ (LT50 of –6.0 °C) and ‘Pristine’ (LT50 of –5.7 °C) had less tolerance to freezing than the other matrella cultivars (LT50 range from –9.7 to –9.8), suggesting lower ability to cold-acclimate in the field than the other cultivars. Shoot weights of cores were correlated to visual green-up ratings for each cultivar with an R 2 range from 0.70 to 0.99 indicating a good relationship between the green-up ratings and shoot weights.

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Jeffrey C. Dunne, W. Casey Reynolds, Grady L. Miller, Consuelo Arellano, Rick L. Brandenburg, A. Schoeman, Fred H. Yelverton and Susana R. Milla-Lewis

Bermudagrass, Cynodon spp. is one of the most commonly grown turfgrass genera in the southern United States having excellent drought tolerance, but poor tolerance to shade. Developing cultivars tolerant to shade would allow bermudagrass to become more prevalent in home lawns or other recreational areas in the southeast, where trees dominate the landscape. In this field study, nine accessions collected from Pretoria, South Africa were evaluated for their ability to grow under shade with varying fertility treatments. These accessions and cultivars ‘Celebration’, ‘TifGrand’, and ‘Tifway’ were evaluated under 0%, 63%, and 80% continuous shade during 2011–12. For both years, significant differences among shade levels, genotypes, and the interaction of the two were observed. As expected, the progression from 0% to 63% to 80% shade reduced normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), percent turfgrass cover (TC), and turf quality (TQ) readings for all accessions. Some genotypes, however, were able to maintain adequate quality and aggressiveness under 63% shade. ‘Celebration’, WIN10F, and STIL03 performed better than ‘Tifway’ (P ≤ 0.05), the susceptible control. Overall, our results indicate that there are promising genotypes among the bermudagrass materials collected from South Africa. These accessions represent additional sources of shade hardiness to be used in bermudagrass breeding. Furthermore, higher nitrogen fertility provided increased NDVI and TQ in some instances suggesting an added benefit of fertility under low-light conditions. However, the increased economic value attributed to the added inputs associated with these increases is outweighed by the low impacts offered.

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Brian M. Schwartz, Wayne W. Hanna, Lisa L. Baxter, Paul L. Raymer, F. Clint Waltz, Alec R. Kowalewski, Ambika Chandra, A. Dennis Genovesi, Benjamin G. Wherley, Grady L. Miller, Susana R. Milla-Lewis, William C. Reynolds, Yanqi Wu, Dennis L. Martin, Justin Q. Moss, Michael P. Kenna, J. Bryan Unruh, Kevin E. Kenworthy, Jing Zhang and Patricio R. Munoz