Monday, August 27, 2012

Horticulture Team: Paspalum Propagation

As we all know, times have been tough and budgets are rarely getting increased.  As a member of the management team at the TPC Sawgrass Agronomy, I am always looking for opportunities to improve the aesthetics of both the PLAYERS Stadium and Dye's Valley golf courses without incurring a tremendous amount of expense. 
With that being said, the Horticultural Team has been involved in  numerous projects over the last twelve months that have seen heavily maintained bermudagrass lakebanks converted to a more natural, native or ornamental grass lakebank.  In the past, Spartina bakeri, commonly know as Cordgrass, has been the primary species of native grass that has been utilized.  However, lately we are trending towards two different types of grasses,  Paspalum quadrifolium, aka Crowngrass,  and Spartina patens, aka Creeping Cordgrass.  Both of these grasses have been great performers during our trials mainly due to their aggressiveness and tolerance to shade.
Since Paspalum has been the primary ornamental grass of choice for both Clay Breazeale, Stadium Superintendent, and Andy Burrow, Dye's Valley Superintendent, we are looking at ways we can propagate Paspalum in order to grow them in-house and to be able to reallocate dollars to other areas of the maintenance budget.   

There are two primary ways to propagate Paspalum quadrifolium - by seed and by cutting.  We are focusing this blog in propagating by seed.   In the spring and throughout the summer Paspalum will produce long seed stalks which typically have 100+ viable seeds per stalk.  Our team harvests these seeds from existing plants on property and sow them in small liners (pictured top right).  
Once the seed germinates and begins to tiller we will 'pot up' these liners into 1-gallon grow pots in order to allow for continued root development (pictured middle right).  We also utilize a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer solution throughout the process to help facilitate plant development. 

After 8-10 weeks the once small seedling now has matured into a sizeable 1-gallon plant that can be either planted or potted up again to a 3-gallon container (pictured below right) in order to achieve maximum size. 

Our goal is to eventually be propagating all of our native and ornamental grasses on site allowing both golf course superintendents flexibility to spend those dollars elsewhere. 
Todd Fonda
Landscape Superintendent
TPC Sawgrass - Agronomy