Busey, P. 1992. Seedling growth, fertilization timing, and establishment of bahiagrass. Crop Sci. 32:1099-1103.
Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Fluegge) makes a useful turf, but establishes slowly from seed; thus, cultivar selection and post planting practices may be important. Objectives were to compare the seedling growth, establishment, and long-term performance of three cultivars and to evaluate the effect of fertilization timing. Seedlings of `Argentine', `Pensacola', and `RCP-1' bahiagrasses were harvested and weighed at weekly intervals for 10 wk after planting in a glasshouse. Cultivars did not differ in mean relative growth rate (RGR). A single 4-wk post planting fertilization fostered equal biomass by 38 wk, compared with repetitive weekly fertilization. Bahiagrasses were planted in a nonirrigated field at 5.6 g seed m-2. Post planting fertilization (4.9 g N, 0.5 g P, and 2.0 g K m-2) was applied 0, 5, or 10 wk after planting, along with a nonfertilized control. Only Argentine and RCP-1 achieved acceptable establishment (a visual estimate of canopy coverage, uniformity, and absence of weeds) in the second year after planting, and only when fertilized 5 wk after planting. Fertilization at 5 wk, when there were three leaves per seedling, was probably optimum because the root systems were adequate to capture nutrients that earlier might have stimulated weeds or have been leached. In another field study, Argentine maintained higher quality ratings over 4 yr and achieved higher root biomass (1870 g m-2) compared with Pensacola (1370 g m-2) and RCP-1 (1340 g m-2), while shoot biomass did not differ. In both field and glasshouse, Argentine had greater proportion root dry weight (mean 43%) than Pensacola (39%) and RCP-1 (38%). Superior rooting may explain the long-term competitive advantage of tetraploid (2n=40) Argentine compared with the diploid (2n=20) cultivars.