Like any grass, hybrid bermudagrass and kikuyugrass have their strengths and weaknesses. The strong lateral growth habit of hybrid bermudagrass and kikuyugrass is a great benefit that contributes to stronger recovery from divot and wear injury, but also causes wavy, bumpy surface conditions that can contribute to mower scalping. This is especially true at mowing heights above 1.5 inches.
Summer is a great time to promote a more upright growth habit on hybrid bermudagrass and kikuyugrass by using a flex-tine harrow to dislodge the lateral stolons. The combing action provided by the flex-tine harrow stands up the turf eliminating the bumpy surface conditions and allowing for a uniform cut. As a result, more leaf growth is stimulated along the stolon, which reduces the tendency for a scalped appearance during mowing operations.
Some courses are finding that use of the flex-tine harrow in the rough on a frequency of one to two times during the summer also improves winter playing conditions by promoting more leaf growth and eliminating the compressed matt of stolons below the turf canopy.
Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service
Contact the Green Section Staff