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Turf performance of seeded and clonal bermudagrasses under varying light environments

Manoj Chhetri, Charles Fontanier, Kyungjoon Koh, Yanqi Wu, Justin Quetone Moss
Urban forestry & urban greening 2019 v.43 pp. 126355
Cynodon dactylon, Zoysia, cultivars, genotype, lawns and turf, light intensity, normalized difference vegetation index, photosynthetically active radiation, plant breeding, plant density, recurrent selection, shade tolerance, spring, turf grasses, Oklahoma
Bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) demonstrates several desirable attributes that contribute to its widespread popularity for use as a turfgrass. However, a significant limitation to more widespread usage is the poor shade tolerance of bermudagrass relative to other species (e.g., Zoysia spp.). Improvement of this trait through recurrent selection of seeded-type cultivars may contribute to increasing the adaptive range of this relatively important turfgrass. A three-year field study was conducted to evaluate the relative shade tolerance of ten commercially-available or experimental bermudagrass cultivars, including seeded-type and clonally-propagated genotypes, in Stillwater, OK. Plots were established in three blocks representing three light environments: full sun, moderate shade (40% of full sun), or severe shade (20% of full sun). Bermudagrass cultivars were evaluated for visual turf quality, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), visual spring green-up, and visual plant density. A turf performance index (TPI) was used to develop a relative ranking of shade tolerance among cultivars tested, and a minimum daily light integral (DLI) for each cultivar was calculated using visual turf density as the criterion. Results indicate ‘Celebration’ was the most shade tolerant cultivar requiring 13 mol m−2 d−1 photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) from June through September, while ‘Patriot’ was the least shade tolerant cultivar requiring 26 mol m−2 d-1 PAR. Other cultivars were intermediate in shade tolerance having a minimum DLI ranging from 17 to 21 mol m−2 d−1 PAR. Shade tolerance of experimental cultivars was similar to existing commercially-available cultivars suggesting further selection or breeding effort is required to improve this trait.