Bermudagrass Takes Root in Ross-Ade and the South Football Practice Field – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

Bermudagrass Takes Root in Ross-Ade and the South Football Practice Field

It is in some ways difficult to believe that it has been just over one month since the first “Big Rolls” of ‘Patriot’ bermudagrass were installed in Ross-Ade stadium on 6 June, 2006. The sod 42” wide rolls arrived on refrigerated trucks from the sandy coastal plain soils of Eastern Maryland. Some of you may wonder, why refrigerated trucks?, and why the heck did you all truck in the sod all the way from Maryland? There are simple answers to both of those questions. First, it is over 700 miles to the sod farm that has some of the exclusive rights to grow and sell this new cultivar. By placing the sod on traditional flat bed trucks it would have subjected the sod to drying winds during the long trip. Additionally, having the sod inside of the truck beds protected the sod from any chance of rain. If the sod were to become saturated by rain it certainly would have made installation difficult. The second question is why did we get sod all the way from Maryland? Besides the fact that this is a new bermudagrass and is not currently grown by many growers there are some other reasons. As many of you know the game field in Ross-Ade stadium is a sand-base. Many high value recreational turf areas are grown on sand bases so that they drain quickly and resist compaction. For high value areas like Ross-Ade or even a sand-based golf green it is always preferable to try to match the underlying soil for any sod that is introduced on rootzone. Hence, the selection of a grower with a natural sand-based sod to minimize any soil layering. When turfgrass soils become layered this can restrict downward drainage of water and oxygen or even worse negatively affect rooting. The bermudagrass sod, is really becoming established quite quickly and even by the end of the first week (4 days after installation), small adventitious roots were evident.

Our Sports Turf Manager, Al Capitos, and his staff are employing all the proper agronomic practices to ensure rapid establishment. This has included proper irrigation and fertilizer management to promote maximum rooting. As with any newly planted turf the temptation sometimes is to fertilize heavily on a frequent basis to speed growth. Remember, too much nitrogen or improperly timed nitrogen can have negative effects on root growth. So proceeding cautiously with moderate nitrogen is the best recipe for success. Realize that just because the top is growing does not always mean the roots are growing too. Additionally, other practices like frequent rolling to press the sod into the soil and supplemental sand topdressing to fill in any seams and level low areas have really improved the fields. Now the fields are on a regular mowing schedule, and even were strong enough to allow for the first core cultivation (aeration). These holes will certainly help promote rooting. Any professional turf manager will tell you that “growing in” any turfgrass area is an art in itself but the Sports Turf staff at Purdue are up to the challenge of managing this new grass species and doing a fantastic job preparing these fields. With the weekend forecast for West Lafayette predicting consistent temperatures in the mid-90’s and soil temperatures remaining above 70 F, the ‘Patriot’ bermudagrass will truly be “at home” in its new environment. Please don’t forget our Turfgrass Field Day is next Tuesday. Part of the program will involve a Sports Turf Tour in which the renovated bermudagrass fields and new indoor synthetic field will be showcased. This is a great continuing education opportunity for turf professionals and turf hobbyists alike.

Registration for this event can be found online at:








2 weeks after sod



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