From Seed to Soccer:
Bermudagrass You Can Sink
Your Cleats Into
by Brenda Dossey
A tone time "Common" Oklahoma and New Mexico developed summer green color and improved its
bermudagras~ from seed seeded bermudagrass varieties with turf density.
had to be imported from improved turf characteristics.
Australia. This changed in the early Funding from the USGA Green Section An application
1900's, when seed producers in Arizona Research and other sources helped The ease and economy of establish-
and California realized they could pro- move the research from experimental ing quality bermudagrass turf from
duce the seed on their own. Today, plots to wide release. seed represented a new and exciting
Southwestern Arizona and the The first variety of bermudagrass concept for turfgrass professionals.
Imperial Valley of California produce developed exclusively for turf, certified Carlos Benavides of Peru saw great
over 95 percent of the potential in the new
world's supply of Sahara variety. He
bermudagrass. Due put it to the test when
to its drought toler- called upon to manage
ance, durability, low seed variety selection,
input maintenance installation and main-
and ease of establish- tenance for a soccer
ment, bermudagrass stadium in Lima.
has become the pri- Figures two and
mary turfgrass in the three dramatically
Southern U.S., and in illustrate the effective-
the semi-tropical and ness of his work.
tropical regions of the Comparing pictures of
world. the stadium before
Above-ground and after seeding, it's
stolons and under- hard to believe both
ground rhizomes con- could be the same
tribute to bermuda- field. This is just one
grass' rapid cover and example of the kind of
aggressive growth results that a certified
characteristics. turf-type bermuda-
Bermudagrass is so grass variety makes
hardy and durable possible.
that the U.S. govern- The before picture
ment purchased the Figure 1: Above ground stolons and underground rhizomes contribute to shows a turf that con-
entire seed crop dur- bermudagrass' rapid cover and aggressive growth characteristics. sists of a hodgepodge
ing World War II to Courtesy: Seeds West. of various cool- and
grass its runways in warm-season grasses
North Africa and the South Pacific. NuMex Sahara, became commercially on a very rough surface. To prepare
The method was so successful that available in 1989. Sahara improved the seedbed, Benavides' crew killed the
bermudagrass saw duty on runways Common bermudagrass by shortening existing grasses, and proceeded to till,
once again in the Vietnam War. internodes. Better genetic uniformity amend and level the soil. They broad-
In the 1980s, researchers in in the new variety increased the grass' cast certified NuMex Sahara with
30 sports TURF • http://www.sportsturfonline.com
as an ideal base for all kinds of sports
turf. Worldwide usage of bermuda-
grass seed for turf has grown an esti-
mated 40 percent since 1990.
Interest in establishing bermuda-
"On our playingfields,
grass turf from seed and acceptance of
varieties like NuMex Sahara fueled a
demand for the development of more
we can't afford to have
seeded varieties. Turf professionals
wanted continued improvement of turf anything but the best
density and overall quality, starting at
the level of the seed.
Figure 2: Prior to renovation with
In 1994, a new group of improved grass available."
turf-type seeded bermudagrasses met
Sahara bermudagrass, Carlos AndreBruce, Head Groundskeeper,
these demands. New varieties, such
Benavides' turf consisted of a hodge- Kansas City Chiefs facilities
as Sultan and Yuma, featured signifi-
podge of various cool- and warm-sea-
cant improvements over Common
son grasses on a very rough surface.
Courtesy: Seeds West.
bermudagrass, but also provided That's why the KC Chiefs use Magnum Blend
increased turf density and improved
overall turf quality over NuMex featuring Omni and Penguin Perennial
hand-held spreaders at a rate of 2 lbs. Sahara.
per 1000 sq.ft. They raked the soil in Ryegrasses. Magnum withstands the stress of
two directions to ensure seed-to-soil Current trends
contact. The use of bermudagrass for gener- heavy play,low mowing, and regenerates
Sahara seedlings emerged seven al purpose and sports turf applications
days after seeding. The grounds crew continues to increase. The new denser
waited two more weeks to mow the seeded bermudagrasses are earning
young grass for the first time. Only 41 respect for improved characteristics on
days after seeding, the new turf faced golf course fairways and sports fields
its first soccer tournament. around the world.
The Sahara variety held up quite In less than 10 years, seeded turf-
well. The turf was rolled after the type bermudagrass has experienced
tournament, and as figure three tremendous advances. Over 15 vari-
demonstrates, Mr. Benavides was very eties of seeded turf-type bermudagrass
happy with its performance. are currently commercially available.
Turf professionals now have a range of
New and improved varieties options when choosing certified seeded
The commercial acceptance of bermudagrasses and certified seeded
Sahara and similar varieties changed bermudagrass blends for their pro-
the turfgrass industry's view of seeded jects.
bermudagrass. Today, due to its den- What does the future hold for seed-
sity and durability, many turfgrass ed bermudagrass varieties? Turf pro-
professionals promote bermudagrass fessionals continue to seek varieties
that possess greater turf density and
improved overall turf quality, while
retaining greater similarity to vegeta-
tive bermudagrasses. New varieties of
the next century will also attempt to
improve cold tolerance for transition
zone and shaded area usage.
It may not be possible to predict
exactly what the seeded bermudagrass
of the future will look like, but one
thing is certain: bermudagrass from
seed isn't just common anymore. 0
Figure 3: Only 41 days after seeding,
the new turf faced its first soccer
tournament. Mr. Benavides was very Brenda Dossey is an Agronomist
happy with its performance. and serves as Vice President of Sales
Courtesy: Seeds West. for Seeds West, Inc., Yuma, Arizona.
Circle 115 on Postage Free Card
March 1998 31