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- Author or Editor: Rick L. Brandenburg x
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.