TOUGHEN UP FALL SPORTS FIELDS

Football and soccer fields take a beating during the fall when your chances of a successful establishment are best. Seeding in summer to thicken a cool-season athletic field is difficult because of high temperature. If you are located in the transition zone and you have a predominantly cool season turf, you might consider seeding with bermudagrass in the summer to develop rapid and thick turf cover as you enter the fall season. Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska collaborated on research in 1998 through 2000 to evaluate summer overseeding of bermudagrass for high-traffic areas in these states. Bermudagrass is not well adapted to winter conditions in these states and generally does not persist. However, because bermudagrass is a warm-season species, it establishes well in the summer and provides a solid turf base into the fall sports season.

Results of this research have spurred researchers to take it to the next level. Dr. Dave Minner at Iowa State University is fine-tuning the regional study and addressing additional questions with continued research on the subject: Is there a way to establish bermudagrass earlier than July so the stand of grass will be better by August? Which bermudagrass varieties work best? Can sprigs be used rather than seeding? Is there any chance of winter survival? What companion grasses can be used with bermudagrass? How does this work in a total field management program?

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In 2002, Minner found that sprigged ‘Baby’ and ‘Quickstand’ bermudagrass produced a faster and denser turf compared to the seeded bermudagrass or perennial ryegrass. He also found that plastic covers caused the bermudagrass to fill faster and killed existing weeds by solarization.

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