The Benefits of Bluemuda on Athletic Fields
Bluemuda is a concept of growing warm and cool-season grasses together, year-round in the transition zone. The concept became possible and popular due to some of the improved varieties of bluegrass, like the HGT from Barenbrug. The new varieties germinate and establish much faster than the varieties from even just ten years ago. These new bluegrasses also have more heat tolerance and disease resistance, which make them attractive for athletic fields (They are also attractive for golf courses and you can find an article about it here: http://bit.ly/31h0uq6).
Managing a mixed field can be a challenge, but the reward is worth it. Early research that is being done at the University of Kentucky by Dr. Gregg Munshaw has shown improved traffic tolerance and recovery in the Bluemuda plots vs Bermuda only plots. This is a great advantage for high use athletic fields that are played on throughout the year. One of the other benefits is the color enhancement on the field. This is an advantage to everyone because who doesn’t enjoy a nice green field year-round. By having the HGT bluegrass with the Bermuda year-round, the color is a much darker green compared to a Bermuda field alone.
There is a cost savings advantage to this concept, too. By inter-seeding the bluegrass, you eliminate the need to overseed the entire playing surface every fall. The other cost savings is that there is no transition, so there is no need for a chemical application to remove your cool-season turf from the Bermuda.
As the concept begins to gain acceptance and more and more managers are trying this, we are getting some great feedback and interesting ideas on management practices. If you deal with high traffic fields, would like to see a darker green in your Bermuda, and deal with the pitfalls of the weather patterns in the transition zone, then maybe you should take a look at Bluemuda too.
Brian Winka, CSFM
Sports Turf Specialist