COURSE CARE
Getting Hybrid Bermudagrass And Kikuyugrass Rough To Stand Up June 25, 2013 By Pat Gross

(L) The long lateral stolons produced by kikuyugrass contributes to a wavy growth habit during the summer, especially in the rough. Note that green leaves are only present at the tip of the stolon, with brown leaves along the base. (R) Using a tractor mounted flex-tine harrow in the rough prior to mowing helps to dislodge the lateral stolons of hybrid bermudagrass and kikuyugrass. This produces a more uniform cut and helps to stimulate leaf growth along the stolon.

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.

Source: Pat Gross  (pgross@usga.org)

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