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Spring Green-up of Warm-Season Grasses

May 31, 2013
by Grady Miller

Spring Green-up of Warm-Season Grasses - Grady Miller

Once again Mother Nature seems to be causing problems with our warm-season grasses in NC, particularly zoysiagrasses. In addition to zoysiagrass, the other warm-season grasses----bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and St Augustinegrass are generally well behind in their normal growth for this time of year.

There were limited days with warm temperatures in early spring followed by mostly below average temperatures in April and May. This has caused some differential green-up among the cultivars and species. Microclimate and cultural practices may also 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 (lows in the 60s) the warm season grasses will not begin growing to their full potential.

On a positive side, reports of winterkill have been low with the greatest number of incidents coming from areas that had late-seeded bermudagrass (less than 1 year old). There is also still a fair amount of ryegrass that was overseeded that is holding on due to the extended cool temperatures. This may result in greater damage to warm-season grass stands from competition for light.

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 lawns in NC.