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J.M. Goatley Jr., V.L. Maddox, and K.L. Hensler

Bermudagrass turfs in the southern United States often receive late growing season applications of nitrogen (N) in order to sustain turfgrass color prior to dormancy, even though such applications might increase winterkill potential. Yearly research trials were initiated in the last week of Sept. 1989 to 1991 at Mississippi State Univ. to evaluate fall and spring color responses and rhizome levels of total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) of `Tiflawn' and Arizona (AZ) Common bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon L. (Pers.)] treated with various N sources delivering N at 98 kg·ha-1 in a single application. The fertilizers were ammonium nitrate (AN), sulfur-coated urea (SCU), a natural organic (`Milorganite', NO), isobutylidene diurea (IBDU), ureaformaldehyde (UF), and methylene urea (MU). Color responses from N fertilization were most prominent in the fall except when there was an early frost event in Oct. 1990. The most rapid greening response and highest color ratings were consistently observed for the water-soluble AN. Of the slow-release sources, SCU, MU, and IBDU provided color responses as long as temperatures remained warm enough to promote bermudagrass growth. The NO source provided an unexpected, significant greening response in Oct. 1989 and 1991 on `Tiflawn', but not on AZ Common. The UF consistently provided the lowest color ratings. There were virtually no differences in TNC levels between N treatments for either grass. At no time was there any indication that N fertilization increased bermudagrass winterkill potential; to the contrary, the predominant responses were better fall and spring color than the nontreated control.

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K.L. Hensler, B.S. Baldwin, and J.M. Goatley Jr.

A bioorganic fiber seeding mat was compared to traditional seeding into a prepared soil to ascertain any advantages or disadvantages in turfgrass establishment between the planting methods. Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis), centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides), st. augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica) were seeded at recommended levels in May 1995 and July 1996. The seeding methods were evaluated under both irrigated and nonirrigated conditions. Plots were periodically rated for percent turf coverage; weed counts were taken about 4 weeks after study initiation. Percent coverage ratings for all grasses tended to be higher for direct-seeded plots under irrigated conditions in both years. Bermudagrass and bahiagrass established rapidly for both planting methods under either irrigated or nonirrigated conditions. Only carpetgrass and zoysiagrass tended to have greater coverage ratings in nonirrigated, mat-seeded plots in both years, although the percent plot coverage ratings never reached the minimum desired level of 80%. In both years, weed counts in mat-seeded plots were lower than in direct-seeded plots. A bioorganic fiber seeding mat is a viable method of establishing warm-season turfgrasses, with its biggest advantage being a reduction in weed population as compared to direct seeding into a prepared soil.

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K.L. Hensler, B.S. Baldwin, and J.M. Goatley Jr.

A truly soilless turfgrass sod may be produced on kenaf-based (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) fiber mat that offers the integrity of field-cut sod without the use of mineral soil growing medium. This research was conducted to determine the feasibility of producing warm-season turfgrass sod on such a biodegradable organic mat. Seeded turfgrass plots contained 4.9 lb/1000 ft2 (24 g.m−2) of pure live seed planted on a 66-lb/1000 ft2 (325-g.m−2) organic fiber mat carrier placed atop either 66- or 132-lb/1000 ft2 (325- or 650-g.m−2) organic fiber mats. In an experiment using vegetative material, stolons were applied at rates of 16.4 ft3/1000 ft2 (0.82 L.m−2) over 132- or 198-lb/1000 ft2 (650- or 975-g.m−2) organic fiber mats and covered with a rayon scrim. All plots were placed on 6-mil black plastic. Nitrogen was applied at 0.9 lb/1000 ft2 (4.4 g.m−2) weekly in addition to a monthly micronutrient application. Bermudagrass (Cynodon σππ.) had quicker establishment than other grasses in the study, with stolonized and seeded plots achieving ≈100% coverage by 9 weeks in 1995 and 6 weeks in 1996, respectively. By 15 weeks after planting in 1995, the plot coverage ratings for seeded centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack. `Common'] and all stolonized grass plots of centipedegrass, zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud. `Meyer'), and St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze `Raleigh'] were 91% or higher. The results were much less favorable in 1996 than 1995 due to a later planting date and an irrigation failure.