Phil Busey Agronomy
Consulting Inc.


 

Turfgrass

Community services:
IDweed.com (identify weeds)
Turfgrass.com (discussion)

Sod production in Florida provides environmentally beneficial grasses for protecting the soil and water in urban areas and conservation areas. Turfgrass scientists represented largely by the C05 Turfgrass Science Division of the Crop Science Society of America, continue to make improvements in turgrass management for Florida and other areas.

Because of its adaptation to lawns in varied soils, St. Augustinegrass is the main turfgrass species produced and grown. Bermudagrasses and seashore paspalum are fine textured species produced largely for golf courses and sports turf. Minor turfgrasses include zoysiagrasses and centipedegrass, which have a place in lawns in certain soils and regions. Most turfgrass species are propagated vegetatively and are planted as plugs or sprigs.

The technology of sod production has become increasingly more complex and specialized with advancement of mowers, pesticides, irrigation management, and grass varieties. The vast majority of St. Augustinegrass is cultivar 'Flortam' developed in 1973. Gradually, lower growing cultivars have been introduced such as 'Seville', 'Delmar', 'Jade', 'Palmetto', and 'Captiva'. New harvest methods have had the strongest effect in mechanizing the industry, starting from the introduction of pallets for shipping slabbed sod around 1958.

Weeds and water are two of the most important factors in sod production. Weeds greatly reduce sod quality and interfere with production. Weed species of serious concern are tropical signalgrass, crabgrasses, sprangletop, and torpedograss. Several types of broadleaf postemergence herbicides are available, for example, atrazine, sulfonylurea herbicides such as metsulfuron, and combinations of organo-auxin herbicides, which may or may not be used depending on species of turfgrass. There are few methods of selective chemical control of grass weeds. There are several alternatives for sedges including halosulfuron, imazaquin, sulfosulfuron, and sulfentrazone. Because of the general lack of effective grass herbicides, timing is a very important strategy in weed control.

Ideally timing of practices including fertilization will yield a harvestable hard-bottomed sod. Variability in moisture depth affects efficiency of nutrient uptake and sod harvestability. Rolling is commonly used to bring moisture to the surface and to suppress deep rooting, encouraging the development of lateral roots that will help sod strength and new rooting in the transplant site.

Much of the fertilization of turfgrass sod is based on periodic monthly applications of dry fertilizer, often alternating primarily nitrogen fertilizer with more complete fertilizers. Organic soils release considerable nitrogen through oxidative breakdown and need little or no nitrogen fertilizer application, depending on season, while sand soils require sufficient nitrogen fertilization.