Vegetative Establishment of Three Warm-Season Perennial Grasses in Late Fall and Late Winter
- D. S. Chamblee *,
- J. P. Mueller and
- D. H. Timothy
Too much moisture for field entry in late winter or early spring, or drought in late spring and summer create problems for vegetative establishment of warm-season perennial grasses. Late fall planting, in drier months when the plants are dormant, offers an alternative and a possible advantage. The primary objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of late-fall planting of ‘Coastal’ and ‘Tifton 44’ bermudagrasses [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] and ‘Carostan’ flaccidgrass (Pennisetum flaccidum Griseb.) compared with the late-winter date commonly used for central North Carolina. Three field trials in different years were conducted on a Dothan loamy sand (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Plinthic Paleudult) using the above cultivars planted in November, December, and March at two planting depths (3.8 and 7.6 cm) and two orientations (horizontal and vertical). In addition, at each planting date in the third trial, sprigs of the grasses were subjected to temperatures of 0, −3, −6, −9, −12, and −15°C in a low temperature stress simulator. Relative order of cold survival was Carostan flaccidgrass >Tifton 44 >Coastal bermudagrass. Nothing survived the −9°C or lower temperatures. Horizontal plantings of Tifton 44 bermudagrass in December to a depth of 7.6 cm produced stands in May of 79, 54, and 78% in Exp. 1, 2, and 3, respectively. For the same treatments Coastal bermudagrass produced stands of only 2, 2, and 21%, and Carostan flaccidgrass 77, 76, and 95%. Winter survival of Tifton 44 bermudagrass and Carostan flaccidgrass was markedly improved (71 vs. 32% stand in May for December planting) when placed horizontally at the 7.6-cm depth, compared with 3.8 cm in the two more severe winters. The 7.6-cm horizontal placement of Coastal bermudagrass in March plantings resulted in stands in May of only 36%, compared with 81% from 3.8 cm and 70% from the vertical orientation. Tifton 44 bermudagrass was less sensitive to deeper planting in March. We conclude that Carostan flaccidgrass and Tifton 44 bermudagrass may be successfully planted in the fall, particularly in areas with slightly more moderate winters than the central North Carolina area.
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