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Turfgrass that Wears Down and Springs Back Up

Kentucky bluegrass, a turfgrass frequently grown on sports fields, is more tolerant to wear during the spring compared to other seasons, and shows better recovery during spring, according to research from Rutgers University. The study also identified which varieties of bluegrass showed the most wear tolerance.

Researchers Bradley Park, T.J. Lawson, Hiranthi Samaranayake, and James A. Murphy, from Rutgers University Center for Turfgrass Science, reported their findings in the July/August 2010 edition of Crop Science, published by the Crop Science Society of America.

The researchers attributed the better spring performance of Kentucky bluegrass to greater shoot biomass production during spring, an annual growth cycle phenomenon of cool-season turfgrass.

Twenty-two Kentucky bluegrass varieties were tested using a paddling device developed at Rutgers University during six week periods in spring, summer, and fall.

A variety called ‘Julia’ had the greatest wear tolerance and recovery throughout the study and has previously exhibited a high level of performance in traffic stress trials at Rutgers and other universities. Unfortunately, its susceptibility to various turfgrass diseases caused by fungal pathogens limit its use on sports fields.

Several varieties frequently used in blends established for sod production, classified as Compact-Midnight Types, including ‘Midnight’, ‘Midnight II’, and ‘Liberator’, were tested. While these exhibited good wear tolerance during fall, their recovery in the following spring was slow. Slow spring recovery of these cultivars is due to long winter dormancy and late spring green-up.

‘Cabernet’, ‘Lakeshore’, ‘Moon Shadow’, ‘Limousine’, and ‘Jefferson’ varieties exhibited better recovery from fall wear during the next spring. Better winter performance and early spring green-up likely aided in the spring recovery of these cultivars after wear during the previous fall. These cultivars would be useful on sports fields needing recovery from fall use and should probably be included in blends with Compact-Midnight Type cultivars.

The ‘Langara’, ‘Bedazzled’, and ‘Touchdown’ varieties had poor wear tolerance and recovery during all seasons. The researchers concluded that these cultivars are better suited to sports fields that see low use intensities.

The research team at Rutgers University continues to investigate the effects of seasonal wear on Kentucky bluegrass. Results provide sod growers, sports field managers, and other turf professionals valuable information to aid in cultivar selection for use on sports and recreational surfaces. For example, the authors concluded that screening varieties for tolerance to wear should be done in the spring.

The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at

Crop Science is the flagship journal of the Crop Science Society of America. Original research is peer-reviewed and published in this highly cited journal. It also contains invited review and interpretation articles and perspectives that offer insight and commentary on recent advances in crop science. For more information, visit

The Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), founded in 1955, is an international scientific society comprised of 6,000+ members with its headquarters in Madison, WI. Members advance the discipline of crop science by acquiring and disseminating information about crop breeding and genetics; crop physiology; crop ecology, management, and quality; seed physiology, production, and technology; turfgrass science; forage and grazinglands; genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology; and biomedical and enhanced plants.

CSSA fosters the transfer of knowledge through an array of programs and services, including publications, meetings, career services, and science policy initiatives. For more information, visit

Sara Uttech | Newswise Science News
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