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Alexander R. Kowalewski, Brian M. Schwartz, Austin L. Grimshaw, Dana G. Sullivan and Jason B. Peake

Hybrid bermudagrasses (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis) typically have excellent wear tolerance when compared with other turfgrass species. This trait should be evaluated during variety development to reduce the risk of failure when new grasses are planted in areas with traffic stress. The objective of this research was to evaluate the wear tolerance of four hybrid bermudagrasses with differing morphological characteristics. Traffic was applied to the hybrid bermudagrass varieties ‘Tifway’, ‘TifSport’, and ‘TifTuf’, as well as an experimental hybrids (04-76) using a traffic simulator for 6 weeks. Leaf morphology (leaf width, length, and angle) and quantitative measure of density and color [normalized difference vegetation index ratio (NDVI), dark green color index (DGCI), and percent green turf color] were characterized before traffic, and then percent green turf color after 6 weeks of traffic was measured to estimate wear tolerance. ‘TifTuf’ hybrid bermudagrass provided the greatest wear tolerance, as well as the narrowest and shortest leaf lengths, greatest NDVI values and percent green color, and lowest DGCI before traffic. Conversely, 04-76 produced the poorest wear tolerance, as well as the widest and longest leaves, lowest NDVI values and percent green color, and highest DGCI values before traffic. Regression analysis determined that DGCI, leaf length, and leaf width were inversely, or negatively, correlated to wear tolerance, whereas percent green turf color before traffic was directly correlated to wear tolerance. For these hybrids, DGCI had the strongest correlation to increased wear tolerance.

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Brian Schwartz, Jing Zhang, Jonathon Fox and Jason Peake

Heavily shaded environments often limit the performance and persistence of hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis), therefore a field-based shade study was performed to determine whether different mowing heights (0.5 and 1.5 inch) or two trinexapac-ethyl (TE) growth regulator management treatments (control and 2 oz/acre) allow either ‘TifSport’ or ‘TifGrand’ hybrid bermudagrass to persist under 77% shade. Turfgrass quality (TQ), green cover, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and dark-green color index (DGCI) were evaluated on the two cultivars under a shade structure in Tifton, GA, during 2010 and 2011. Neither of the cultivars maintained acceptable TQ throughout the entire year under 77% shade, although ‘TifGrand’ displayed adequate TQ at the higher mowing height (1.5 inch) and demonstrated more shade tolerance than ‘TifSport’, as indicated by TQ, green cover, and NDVI. The TE application did not enhance the turf performance of ‘TifSport’ under 77% shade when mowed at 0.5 inch, but it improved turf performance of ‘TifGrand’ at the same height. The effect of TE application was cultivar and mowing height dependent under this heavily shaded environment, which warrants future study to determine the best management practices of these cultivars as well as continued efforts to develop new, shade-tolerant bermudagrass hybrids.

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Brian M. Schwartz, Ryan N. Contreras, Karen R. Harris-Shultz, Douglas L. Heckart, Jason B. Peake and Paul L. Raymer

Seashore paspalum is a salt tolerant, predominately diploid (2n = 2x = 20) species that is well adapted to coastal regions in tropical and subtropical environments. Because a majority of the available cultivars are propagated vegetatively and most genotypes are cross-fertile, a sterile cultivar that does not produce segregating seedlings would benefit sod growers and turfgrass managers who demand uniformity for certification and performance. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to create a colchicine-induced polyploid seashore paspalum. One triploid (2n = 3x = 30) genotype (11-TSP-1) was identified and remains stable. Although there is a possibility that this event was triggered by the colchicine treatment, a more likely explanation is that it resulted from the union of a reduced and an unreduced gamete. Pollen shed was observed from 11-TSP-1 in 2011, but individual pollen grains stained with iodine–potassium iodide were irregularly shaped and typically had lower starch content than pollen from several diploid cultivars. The leaf width of 11-TSP-1 was statistically equal to that of the seashore paspalum cultivar SeaStar, indicating its potential for use as a fine turf. 11-TSP-1 had both superior visual color and a dark green color index when compared with ‘SeaStar’. Future study of the reproductive fertility and more extensive field testing of this genotype should be carried out to determine its turfgrass potential. Chemical names used: 4′, 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), iodine-potassium iodide (I2-KI), propidium iodide (PI).

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Dana Sullivan, Jing Zhang, Alexander R. Kowalewski, Jason B. Peake, William F. Anderson, F. Clint Waltz Jr. and Brian M. Schwartz

Quantitative spectral reflectance data have the potential to improve the evaluation of turfgrasses in variety trials when management practices are factors in the testing of turf aesthetics and functionality. However, the practical application of this methodology has not been well developed. The objectives of this research were 1) to establish a relationship between spectral reflectance and turfgrass quality (TQ) and percent green cover (PGC) using selected reference plots; 2) to compare aesthetic performance (TQ, PGC, and vegetation indices) and functional performance (surface firmness); and 3) to evaluate lignin content as an alternate means to predict surface firmness in turfgrass variety trials of hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis]. A field study was conducted on mature stands of three varieties (‘TifTuf’, ‘TifSport’, and ‘Tifway’) and two experimental lines (04-47 and 04-76) at two mowing heights (0.5 and 1.5 inch) and trinexapac-ethyl application (0.15 kg·ha−1 and nontreated control) treatments. Aesthetic performance was estimated by vegetation indices, spectral reflectance, visual TQ, and PGC. The functional performance of each variety/line was measured through surface firmness and fiber analysis. Regression analyses were similar when using only reference plots or all the plots to determine the relationship between individual aesthetic characteristics. Experimental line 04-47 had lower density in Apr. 2010, whereas varieties ‘TifTuf’, ‘TifSport’, and ‘Tifway’ were in the top statistical group for aesthetic performance when differences were found. ‘TifSport’ and ‘Tifway’ produced the firmest surfaces, followed by ‘TifTuf’, and finally 04-76 and 04-47, which provided the least firm surface. Results of leaf fiber analysis were not correlated with turf surface firmness. This study indicates that incorporating quantitative measures of spectral reflectance could reduce time and improve precision of data collection as long as reference plots with adequate range of green cover are present in the trials.