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Identification of Improved Traffic Tolerance in Experimental and Commercially Available Bermudagrass Varieties

Segars, Chrissie Ann
Injury from foot traffic is one of the most challenging problems athletic field managers face in regards to the playing surface. The purpose of this research was to identify experimental as well as commercially available bermudagrasses with improved traffic tolerance for use on athletic fields. A Cady-type traffic simulator (CTS), constructed from a walk-behind core aerator, was used in providing traffic injury to bermudagrasses. In 2012 the CTS was used on each grass plot once a week, operating in a two forward pass mode, representing one game per week. Traffic applications in 2012 were administered from May through October. In 2013, a one game per week and a two game per week treatment, operating in a two and four forward pass mode, respectively, was evaluated on all cultivars. A total of 24 commercially available and 16 experimental bermudagrass entries were evaluated for traffic tolerance during the two years of this research. Spring green-up [SG] (1-9 scale, 9=best, 6=satisfactory) was assessed in 2013. In 2012 and 2013, turfgrass quality [TQ], and traffic tolerance [TT] was assessed using a 1 - 9 visual ratings scale (9=best, 6=satisfactory performance) as well as visual live percent cover [PLC] and digital image analysis [DIA] for percent living cover on a weekly basis immediately prior to the next traffic event. Significant entry x date effects were found in both years for TQ, TT, PLC and DIA. Entry x date x game effects were never significant but a highly significant entry x game effect was found for TT and PLC. Cultivars having the best overall traffic tolerance included `Riviera', `NorthBridge', `Latitude 36', and `SWI 1057'. Varieties having lower traffic tolerance included `Midlawn', `NuMex-Sahara', and `SWI-1117'. Results of this work should aid sports field managers in the south central Great Plains region in selecting bermudagrass cultivars that have improved traffic tolerance.