Dormant sprigging of bermudagrass and zoysiagrass

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Pictures from the field trial on July 21, 2014. Bermudagrass plots are in the foreground and zoysiagrass plots in the background.

Many bermudagrass and zoysiagrass cultivars cannot be seeded and are commonly planted vegetatively using sprigs, especially for sod production or in sand-based systems such as athletic fields and putting greens. Traditionally, sprig planting has been accomplished during the warm-season growing months when soil temperatures are capable of initiating and promoting growth. However, this often results in an extended grow-in period and can significantly reduce the use of the turf in the first growing season.

The objective of this study was to determine if vegetative sprigs of bermudagrass and zoysiagrass could be established earlier in the year during the dormancy phase to hasten establishment. The study was carried out at the Agricultural Research and Extension Center of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, using sprigs of Tifway bermudagrass and Meyer zoysiagrass. Plantings were applied on March 28 (dormant), May 30 (spring) and July 22 (summer), respectively, by spreading sprigs on the native soil field then topdressing with 0.4 inches of sandy topsoil and compacted with a light roller. For each planting date and each species, there were three sprigging rates, at 344 bu./acre, 688 bu./acre and 1,032 bu./acre.

Turfgrass coverages were monitored weekly using digital image analysis to evaluate establishment rates. Sprigging rate had no effect on bermudagrass and minimal effects on zoysiagrass establishment. Excellent results were obtained for both species with dormant sprigging, suggesting that early planting can result in earlier sod harvest or use of the turf than waiting until spring or summer to plant. For zoysiagrass, it appears that full coverage can be reached in the first season if dormant planting dates are used.

Juming Zhang, Ph.D., South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China and Mike Richardson, Ph.D., University of Arkansas. Richardson can be reached at mricha@uark.edu for more information.

Photo: Juming Zhang

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