2019 journal article

Comparing evapotranspiration rates of tall fescue and bermudagrass in North Carolina


By: G. Pinnix n & G. Miller n

author keywords: Water; Crop-coefficient; Transition zone; Irrigation; Turfgrass; Landscape
Source: Web Of Science
Added: November 25, 2019

Increasing water conservation efforts across landscapes necessitate the establishment of turfgrasses that require less water to sustain functionality. Therefore, it is important to consider concurrent water use potential of popular grass species such as tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt-Davy]. The primary objective of this field study was to compare water use characteristics of ‘TifTuf’ a recently released bermudagrass cultivar with reported drought tolerance with a commonly planted tall fescue/bluegrass mix in North Carolina. A secondary objective was to quantify minimum irrigation requirements during establishment from sod when planted during spring and summer. Direct measurements of actual evapotranspiration (ETa) were made through weighing of non-water stressed lysimeters planted with ‘Triple Threat’ tall fescue and TifTuf hybrid bermudagrass. Actual evapotranspiration rates during the first 14 days after planting (DAP) were 3.3 and 4.3 mm d−1 for bermudagrass and tall fescue, respectively, averaged across spring plantings. Tall fescue ETa 14 DAP was no different during summer establishment, while bermudagrass ETa increased to 4.3 mm d−1. After 14 DAP, cumulative bermudagrass ETa was 44% less than tall fescue when established in spring. Cumulative bermudagrass ETa was similar to tall fescue (3% less) following summer establishment. Both grasses provided acceptable turf quality (TQ ≥ 6), when planted during spring, unlike tall fescue which resulted in unacceptable TQ following summer establishment. Results indicate the use of TifTuf bermudagrass can provide acceptable quality in the landscape while significantly reducing turfgrass water use compared to Triple Threat tall fescue when adapted to localized conditions.