Turfgrass management for provision of high quality sporting facilities is becoming increasingly important with recognition of the contribution of sports to tourism, which is a major driver for income security in the Caribbean Region. Bermuda grass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] cultivars commonly cultivated on sports fields in the Region are adversely affected by shaded conditions likely to occur within enclosed stadia built to attract international sporting events. Poor surface stability and traction, and non-uniform appearance and performance are some of the adverse effects that can occur in turfgrass growing in the shadows of buildings and other structures. In this regard, pot studies were conducted at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, to investigate the effects of ethephon on the shade tolerance of Bermuda grass, cultivar Princess-77. Ethylene (released from applied ethephon), can potentially be used to enhance shade tolerance due to its frequently observed effects in reducing elongative growth while promoting lateral expansion in various plant species. This is an attractive option since ethephon is relatively cheap and non-toxic and it is already used for other purposes in the horticultural industry throughout the Region. In an initial investigation, turf quality and growth were monitored following the application of ethephon at three concentrations (0, 0.25 and 0.5%) to turfgrass exposed to full light or to 55% shade (provided by shade netting). Ethephon was applied (until leaf drip) to recently clipped (3 cm tall) turfgrass as an aqueous foliar spray, with and without added nutrients, using a handheld sprayer. A follow-up study investigated the effects of repeated application at the 0.25% concentration in shaded and nonshaded turf. Undesirable effects of shading on plant height were significantly reduced by increasing the concentration of ethephon or the frequency of its application. Reduction in the chlorophyll index with ethephon application was partially offset by the inclusion of nutrients in the spray solution. Dry mass of clippings was reduced by ethephon under shaded conditions with significant effects of the 0.25% solution applied at weekly intervals. Results suggest that ethephon use can be considered for counteracting adverse effects of shade on Bermuda grass.


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