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2015 Spring Green-up of Warm-Season Grasses

April 21, 2015
by Grady Miller

bermuda 8

Warming of the climate in the spring is very unpredictable compared to cooling in the fall. Green-up of our warm-season grasses seemed to be progression on schedule until that late March hard freeze. With grasses coming out of dormancy, the low 20s really hurt some of the grasses.  We have seen signs of winterkill on bermudagrass. On golf courses, it looks like bermudagrass collars around greens have been hardest hit along with some ultradwarf bermudagrasses (greens).

Recent research on cold hardiness of new and old cultivars is indicating significant variation in green-up.  It is also important to remember that microclimate and cultural practices can significantly influence the green-up response among cultivars and species. So, two neighbors may have the same grass and one neighbor’s yard may be totally green while the other neighbors still not be at 100%. And until we get consistently warm temperatures (especially nighttime temperatures above 60 F) the warm season grasses will not begin growing to their full potential.

In many cases, all the site needs is some time and warmer weather combined with reasonable fertility/irrigation practices. In most cases growth has been initiated at the plant’s crown, down in the canopy of dormant tissue. Removing some of the brown, dormant material so that more sunlight can reach this green material will enhance growth with our current warm temperatures.

These photos indicate how variable green-up can be among cultivars. These were taken on Friday, April 17 at the Lake Wheeler Road Turfgrass Field Laboratory in Raleigh of our bermudagrass and zoysiagrass cultivar trials.