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2014 Spring Green-up of Warm Season Grasses

April 22, 2014
by Grady Miller

Overseeding trial of multiple cultivars in foreground and non-overseeded bermudagrass in background
Overseeding trial of multiple cultivars in foreground and non-overseeded bermudagrass in background
Zoysiagrass green-up on Bermudagrass fairway. Raleigh, NC.
Zoysiagrass green-up on Bermudagrass fairway. Raleigh, NC.

So, green-up of our warm-season grasses has been late in 2014. I have not seen or heard of widespread winterkill as some feared, but there has been some. And as we progress into spring I anticipate seeing more. Most troubling to me has been the very slow green-up of our bermudagrass greens. I think some of our ultradwarf bermudagrasses have been damaged.

There is no doubt that temperatures have been below average in April. Let's hope May will be good to us.

Also 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 and the other neighbors still not 100%. And until we get consistently warm temperatures (especially nighttime temperatures) the warm season grasses will not begin growing to their full potential.

For those of you that overseeded bermudagrass with ryegrass, expect it to hold on due to the extended cool temperatures. This may result in greater damage to the grass stands from competition for light. So, consider spraying it out if the budget allows.

Generally, 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.

So, this is another spring that patience is needed if you are growing warm-season grasses in NC.