Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Turf - Bermudagrass Control in Cool Season Turf

Bermudagrass can be a troublesome weed in cool season turf. It will be greening up starting the middle of May. Note browned out areas in turf where bermudagrass infestations were last year and watch for signs of greenup. Control programs should begin once greenup has completed. The following is an article on the subject.

Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) is a warm season perennial grass that is used extensively for turf in southern states and along the coast in Delaware. It is also finding a place on athletic fields in the state. However, common bermudagrass, often know as wiregrass, is a troublesome summer weed in cool season turfgrass. Bermuda grass is recognized by its wiry appearance, short leaves, creeping stolons, and underground rhizomes. It can be distinguished from similar looking grasses (nimblewill and bentgrass) by looking at the ligules which will be hair-like and not membranous.

Several approaches can be taken to control bermudagrass in cool season turf. Avoid spring and summer applications of nitrogen fertilizer. This favors bermudagrass growth over cool season turf. Bermudagrass control can be achieved by use of the non-selective herbicide glyphosate applied 2-3 times at 3 week intervals followed by reseeding or sodding (desirable turf will be killed). This is effective for smaller patches and spots. For larger infestations in cool season turf, bermudagrass suppression has been achieved by applications of Acclaim extra (fexoxaprop-p-ethyl) applied at 0.46 fl. oz. per 1000 sq. ft. every 4-5 weeks (maximum of 6 applications) starting at bermudagrass first greenup in May. Acclaim extra mixed in combination with Prograss (ethofumisate) or Turflon Ester (triclopyr) has given better bermudagrass control (do not use Prograss on fine fescues) and fewer applications may be needed. Both Prograss and Turflon Ester both have some bermudagrass activity when used alone. In tall fescue turf only, bermudagrass can be suppressed by 2 applications of fluazifop-P-butyl (Ornamec, Fusilade II, refer to labels for rates and restrictions), one at first bermudagrass greenup in May, the second in late summer (September). Do not apply during hot summer months. Some tall fescue yellowing can be expected and severe damage to tall fescue can occur where spray is overlapped. Basamid G (dazomet) a granular soil fumigant (numerous restrictions, must be watered in), has been used with some success to kill out bermudagrass followed by complete renovation. Control of bermudagrass in landscape beds is best accomplished by post-emergence applications of a grass herbicide: sethoxidim (Vantage, Sethoxydim G-Pro), fluazifop-P-butyl (Ornamec, Fusilade II), or clethodim (Envoy plus, others).

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County.

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