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Bermudagrass

Description

Bermudagrass is a medium- to fine-textured warm-season turfgrass that spreads by rhizomes and stolons. It has excellent heat, drought, and salt tolerance but does not do well in shade. Bermudagrass is the most widely used species on athletic fields and golf course fairways/tee boxes due to its high wear tolerance and rapid recovery. It can also be a very invasive and hard to control weed in some turf settings. Bermudagrass can be confused with nimblewill. However, nimblewill has a membranous ligule, which can be distinguished from the hairy ligule of bermudagrass. Bermudagrass is also often confused with zoysiagrass, but zoysiagrass has hairs standing upright on the leaf blade, whereas bermudagrass does not. Zoysiagrass is also stiff to the touch and offers more resistance to your hand than bermudagrass. Zoysiagrass leaf vernation is rolled whereas bermudagrass leaf vernation is folded. There are many different hybrids of bermudagrass that range from fine to coarse in leaf texture. As a weed, bermudagrass is sometimes referred to as wiregrass.

lawn Maintenance for December - February

Fertilization

Do not fertilize bermudagrass that has not been overseeded. For overseeded bermudagrass, apply ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in December and February. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (for example, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8).

Irrigation

Dormant bermudagrass may have to be watered periodically to prevent desiccation, especially when warm, windy weather prevails. Watering is particularly important for lawns that have been overseeded.

Mowing

Mow overseeded bermudagrass at 1 inch before the grass gets taller than 1½ inches. Recycle nutrients by not collecting the clippings unless they accumulate heavily on the surface. Dormant bermudagrass that has not been overseeded need not be mowed.

Weed Control

Apply broadleaf herbicides as needed to control weed such as chickweed, henbit, and hop clover. Selective herbicides can be applied in November or December to lawns that have not been overseeded to control annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and several winter annual broadleaf weeds.

athletic Maintenance for January - March

Fertilization

Do not fertilize athletic fields that have not been overseeded. Apply no more than ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet to winter overseeded fields every three to four weeks.

Irrigation

Dormant turf may need to be irrigated when warm, windy weather prevails. Winter overseeded fields lose greater amounts of water than fields that have not been overseeded. Probe the soil to determine dryness.

Mowing

Mow baseball infields overseeded with ryegrass at ½ to ¾ inch and outfields, sidelines, football fields, and soccer fields at ¾ to 1 ½ inches. Reduce mowing height two weeks before the grass is expected to turn green in the spring to weaken ryegrass and allow bermudagrass to respond with minimum competition.

Soil Cultivation

Do not power rake or aerify dormant fields until the soil temperature approaches 50 F at a depth of 4 inches. Initiate verticutting of winter overseeded bermudagrass two weeks before it is expected to turn green in the spring to weaken ryegrass and enhance bermudagrass recovery. Coring the soil at this time helps warm the soil.

Weed Control

Winter weeds and perennials - Postemergence Control

If atrazine or simazine were not applied in autumn, glyphosate (various brands) may be used for postemergence annual bluegrass, winter annual and perennial broadleaf weed control. This treatment should be applied to dormant bermudagrass turf at a rate of 0.5 pound of active ingredient per acre (lb ai/A). Read the label for surfactant recommendations.

Summer annual grasses - Preemergence Control

Crabgrass species and goosegrass should be controlled preemergence in February and March. A general guideline is to apply preemergence herbicides when forsythias are in full bloom. In Wake county, this occurs in mid to late February. Many preemergence crabgrass herbicides are not suggested for use in bermudagrass athletic fields. These include the dinitroaniline family herbicides and prodiamine (Barricade) which are root inhibitors. These products provide good to excellent crabgrass species control and fair to good goosegrass control. However, they can adversely affect bermudagrass rooting at the nodes of the stolons. Heavy play or traffic on the turf while affected could result in significant stand loss. Bermudagrass is least affected by oxadiazon (Ronstar G, 50WP) applications. Ronstar 50WP should be applied to dormant, established bermudagrass 2 to 3 weeks before greenup. Ronstar formulations should be applied at 2 to 3 lb ai/A.

Presentations

Publications

Species Data

Seedhead/Flower

raceme; 3-5 spikes that join at the top of a main stem.

p1060821
p1060821
p1060821
Vernation type

leaves folded in the bud

dscn1050
dscn1050
dscn1050
Ligule Type

fringe of hairs 0.04 - 0.12 inches (1 - 3 mm) long

ligule
ligule
ligule
Growth Season/Life Cycle

warm season turf or perennial weed

Auricle type

absent

ligule
ligule
ligule
Leaf blade tip shape

sharp-pointed; sparsely hairy, edges rough, leaf blade soft

dscn1037
dscn1037
dscn1037
Leaf blade width

0.06 - 0.1 inches (1.5 - 3 mm) wide

Stolon Presence

present; stout

stolon2
stolon2
stolon2
weed4
weed4
weed4
Rhizome Presence

present; stout

Collar Type

continuous; not hairy, may be hairy on edges

dscn1039
dscn1039
dscn1039
dscn1041
dscn1041
dscn1041
vernation2
vernation2
vernation2
Sheath Margin

open

dscn1047
dscn1047
dscn1047
sheath hairs
sheath hairs
sheath hairs

Sports Turf App

Whether you’re a professional superintendent for a pro team or a local high school athletic field director, the NCSU Sports Turf App contains sports turf specific information to help improve your fields.