MAKING THE SWITCH
Irrigation issues, such as water shortages and budget constraints, combined with a continual goal of reducing golf course maintenance costs, have demanded that superintendents consider all options of course management. By switching from perennial ryegrass fairways, which have high water and fungicide requirements, to zoysiagrass fairways, superintendents can gain great savings. How to achieve this with minimal disruption of play and the greatest success was the focus of recent research at Kansas State University. Previous attempts using ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass have been expensive and can take several years to make the conversion. Seeded zoysiagrass may be a more attractive alternative. Using ‘Zenith’ zoysiagrass, researchers employed a variety of treatments, including scalping the perennial ryegrass while zoysiagrass seed germinated, treating with glyphosate prior to seeding, treating the perennial ryegrass with two different plant growth regulators, broadcasting vs. strip-seeding at various spacing and traffic vs. no traffic.
First, here are the treatments that did not work. Plant growth regulators did not slow growth of perennial ryegrass enough to give the zoysiagrass seedlings any type of headstart. Newly seeded areas did not respond well to traffic. However, treating the perennial ryegrass with glyphosate prior to seeding did offer an advantage, as did scalping the perennial ryegrass three times weekly until the zoysiagrass seedlings reached mower height. In this case, zoysiagrass coverage reached at least 75 percent after the first year. Broadcasting zoysiagrass seed provided faster cover than strip seeding, but had lower quality ratings and could disrupt play. Overall, conditions that promoted zoysiagrass growth also lowered turf quality. Golf course managers may be able to keep the course open longer if they choose to scalp the perennial ryegrass three times weekly instead of treating with glyphosate. Strip seeding may take longer, but the area will remain more playable and the cost of seed for the narrow strips, compared to broadcasting, may provide significant savings.
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