Early Overseed Transitioning

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
May 8, 2012

No turf thinning occurred in this non-overseeded fairway from a golf course in Ocala, Fl. that was sprayed every two weeks this past winter with pigments and fertilizers.

While many golf facilities have moved away from winter overseeding in the Florida Region, it is still a practice that some courses conduct to improve turf color. Transitioning from perennial ryegrass back to the base bermudagrass takes place each spring and is usually just beginning at this time. Given warmer than usual temperatures this spring many courses in our region are reporting the transition is well ahead of schedule as it began over a month ago. 

Some golf courses are struggling with overseed transition at this time. If multiple stress factors occur within a given area, severe turf thinning will occur. These factors include: 

  • Shade – Perennial ryegrass has a higher tolerance of shade than bermudagrass and grows more aggressively in shaded areas during the winter months. This inherent physiological difference gives ryegrass the ability to outcompete bermudagrass in shaded areas and large bare areas can result around trees and on north-facing slopes. 
  • Traffic – Carts, mowers and even foot traffic are especially stressful to turf during spring transition and can cause turf thinning. Bermudagrass does not grow when temperatures drop below 60°F and continual traffic during the peak play season in Florida removes its leaves. Meanwhile, ryegrass is actively growing during the winter play season and thus gains a competitive edge over the thinning bermudagrass. 
  • Nematodes – Plant-parasitic nematodes feed on turfgrass roots. Nematode feeding combined with the additional stress of perennial ryegrass competition can cause significant turf thinning during spring transition. 
  • Water Limitations – An additional stress factor that some Florida courses are dealing with this spring is a reduced ability to irrigate. The amount of water that can be used is governed by the five water management districts in Florida and some have become quite stringent on irrigation reductions. In addition to overall reductions in water allocations, several regions must comply with restrictions that only allow watering greens and tees three times per week and fairways once weekly. It is impossible to keep ryegrass alive without supplemental irrigation and this is causing rapid transition in many areas. 


Soil cultivation and fertilization should be applied in thin areas to promote bermudagrass growth and quality. Also, if areas struggle with nematodes, the nematicide Curfew (1,3-D) should be applied to reduce nematode populations. Irrigation reductions are making turf recovery difficult as well because nematicides and most fertilizers must be watered in with irrigation. 

Spraying tees and fairways on a regular basis with pigments and light amounts of fertilizers, or “liquid overseed” as it is often called, is continuing to gain ground in our region (see previous Florida Region update). Traditional overseeding with cool-season grasses is a stress to the base bermudagrass that causes turf thinning, whereas liquid overseeding improves turf growth, as it provides nutrients on a regular basis. Also, the turf remains actively growing for more of the winter season due to warmer canopy temperatures. Lastly, traditional overseeding must be mowed regularly throughout the winter whereas non-overseeded bermudagrass is mowed less often. For more information on liquid overseeding please don’t hesitate to contact either of the Florida offices. 

There is only one week left to take advantage of the $600 discount for pre-payment of TAS visits. Payment must be received by May 15 but the visit can be scheduled at any time during the year. Please contact our office to take advantage of this reduced fee. 

Source:  Todd Lowe, tlowe@usga.org or 941-828-2625
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image