Large Crabgrass, White Clover, and Hybrid Bermudagrass Athletic Field Playing Quality in Response to Simulated Traffic
- J.T. Brosnan *a,
- K.H. Dicksona,
- J.C. Sorochana,
- A.W. Thomsa and
- J.C. Stiera
Athletic field playing quality encompasses both aesthetics as well as athlete-to-surface interactions that can affect injury incidence. Legislation restricting the use of herbicides on athletic fields may lead to increases in problematic weeds, such as large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis L.) and white clover (Trifolium repens L.), which could reduce athletic field playing quality and potentially increase potential for athletic injuries. Research was conducted at the University of Tennessee Center for Athletic Field Safety (Knoxville, TN) during 2012 to 2013 to evaluate the playing quality of large crabgrass and white clover compared with weed-free hybrid bermudagrass (C. dactylon ⋅ C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy, ‘Tifway’). All plots (3 by 3 m) were maintained as monostands and subjected to 18 simulated traffic events with a Cady traffic simulator each autumn over 2 yr. Large crabgrass and white clover lost green cover approximately 12 times faster than hybrid bermudagrass in this study. Consequently, surface hardness values on large crabgrass and white clover plots were ∼48 to 52% higher than those measured on hybrid bermudagrass after 18 simulated traffic events were applied. Changes in both surface hardness and rotational resistance were significantly correlated (P < 0.0001) to changes in green cover following simulated traffic. Our findings indicate that groundcover domination by weeds, such as large crabgrass and white clover, compromises the aesthetics and safety of natural grass athletic fields. Additional research is needed to evaluate athletic field playing quality on polystands of hybrid bermudagrass, large crabgrass, and white clover to determine acceptable thresholds of weed cover for player safety. Information of this nature would be useful for justifying various weed control measures such as herbicide applications.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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