Evaluation of tall fescue-zoysiagrass polystands and new zoysiagrass genotypes for use in the transition zone



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Zoysiagrasses (Zoysia spp.) use C4 metabolism and are more drought resistant than C3 grasses. However, the long dormancy period between autumn and spring limits the use of zoysiagrass by homeowners and professional turfgrass managers. In addition, large patch has become the primary pest on zoysiagrass, and improved cultivars with good cold hardiness and large patch resistance are needed in the transition zone. Tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus Schreb), a C3 grass, is used frequently in Kansas due to its heat and drought tolerance compared to some other C3 grasses. However, brown patch (Rhizoctonia solani) is the main disease limiting its growth in summer. Alternatively, mixing zoysiagrass with tall fescue may help reduce brown patch incidence. The objective of these projects were to: (1) evaluate methods for establishing a perennial mixture of seeded zoysiagrass and tall fescue; (2) determine whether a zoysiagrass/ tall fescue polystand is less susceptible to brown patch and results in improved summer quality compared to a tall fescue monostand; and (3) evaluate experimental zoysiagrass genotypes to identify one or more potential new cultivars which have high quality and tolerance to cold and large patch. I found that polystands of zoysiagrass and tall fescue were most successfully established by seeding zoysiagrass at 49 kg ha-1 in June and tall fescue at 392 kg ha-1 in September into the established zoysiagrass sward. Polystand establishment was also superior at a 1.9 cm mowing height than a 5.1 cm mowing height. The resulting mixture resulted in improved turf color in late fall and early spring compared to a zoysiagrass monostand. In addition, using a zoysiagrass-tall fescue polystand reduced brown patch by up to 21% compared to a tall fescue monostand. In the zoysiagrass breeding project, I identified ten progeny out of sixty evaluated that had better tolerance to large patch (up to 40 % less plot area affected) and better quality compared to Meyer zoysiagrass, which is the standard cultivar used in the transition zone.



Turfgrass, Large patch, Brown patch, Polystand, Zoysiagrass, Tall fescue

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Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources

Major Professor

Jack D. Fry; Megan Kennelly