Seasonal Establishment of Bermudagrass Using Plastic and Straw Mulches
Bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] is normally established vegetatively during the early summer in the transition zone, to allow sufficient establishment time before the onset of freezing conditions in the fall. Clear polyethylene covers and straw mulches muse changes in the turfgrass microenvironment that may influence the rate of sprig establishment. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of barley (Hordeum vulgure L.) straw and clear polyethylene plastic mulch (0.04-mm thickness) on the establishment of ‘Midiron’, ‘Tufcote’, and ‘Vamont’ bermudagrass from sprigs. Separate tests were conducted in the fall of 1983 and 1984 and the summer of 1984 and 1985. Summer spriggings were made in May, June, and July, months generally recommended for planting in the transition zone. Late-season spriggings were made in August, September, and October. Plantings were made on a Sassafrass sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, mesic Typic Hapludult). Summer bermudngrass establishment was reduced under straw and polyethylene covers. Injury under plastic occurred to plantings made in May and June, which were exposed to mean soil temperatures above 41°C during the 8-wk cover period. In contrast, plastic mulch stimulated early fall bermudagrass growth and delayed dormancy. August and September plantings remaining under plastic throughout the winter exhibited high winter survival in comparison to unmulched or straw mulched turf, and were nearly 100% established by 1 July of the following year. Spriggings under plastic planted after 20 September exhibited poor establishment by 1 July the following year. These studies showed that plastic covers can be used to extend the establishment season of bermudagrass into the fall; however, plastic covers are detrimental to summer bermudagrass establishment.
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