Author Topic: Introduction to Athletic Turf  (Read 1850 times)

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Introduction to Athletic Turf
« on: April 27, 2011, 12:08:04 PM »
Introduction to Athletic Turf

When it comes to selecting seed for athletic turf there are advantages and disadvantages to each seed type. As a general rule for athletic turf, use a blend of perennial ryes and bluegrasses in your overseeding mix. There are two basic blends that you can use, depending on the condition of each field, the season of the year, and budget concerns. You must take into account the growth characteristics and performance of the grass, as well as seasonal temperatures and available moisture. Letís look briefly at the two grasses and what they have to offer.

Bluegrass spreads by means of rhizomes, which is an advantage to us because it competes with weeds as it thickens. It has excellent recuperative potential, which is the ability to rebound from damage or normal wear and tear. It has average wear tolerance, but that is offset by its rhizomatous nature. Bluegrass mixes well with other grasses and exhibits good drought, heat and cold tolerance. It can be successfully mown at three inches, the optimum pH is 6.5 to 7.0, it requires two to six pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, and it has a germination time of roughly 21 days.

Perennial ryegrass increases in size by means of tillers and is more of a clump-forming grass. It has excellent wear tolerance and fair to good recuperative potential. It also mixes well with other grasses and has good drought and heat tolerance, but it can sometimes suffer winter damage due to its poor tolerance of heavy icing conditions. 
Perennial ryegrass can be mown at three inches, the optimum pH is 6.5 to 7.0, and its nutritional needs are similar to those of bluegrass (two to five pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet).

One distinct advantage of perennial ryegrass is that most of the newer cultivars have naturally occurring fungi growing within them (endophytes). The grass plant and fungi live in a symbiotic relationship. The turfgrass supplies carbohydrates to the fungi, which in return give the grass alkaloids and other chemicals that have a beneficial and protective effect on the grass. These alkaloids have been shown to act as an insecticide, controlling several surface-grazing insects. (The fungi live in the veins of the sheath and are not found in the root.)

Recent studies have shown that the grass with endophytes may receive other benefits such as some disease resistance, drought resistance and a growth retarding effect on surrounding plants. This growth retarding effect may be a valuable tool for the turf manager to consider in the future. Note that the alkaloids in endophytic grasses are toxic to grazing animals such as horses and cows.