Adam W. Thoms

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Plant Sciences

Major Professor

John C. Sorochan

Committee Members

Thomas J. Samples, Dean A. Kopsell


Athletic field managers often make decisions regarding what turfgrass species and varieties to use from past experiences, or from non-sports turf related research such as the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program results. The wear tolerance of turfgrass varieties varies among species and varieties, which can greatly affect the performance of an athletic field. Mowing can also influence athletic field turf. Therefore advancements in mowing technology were tested to determine the impact of mowing, and mowing plus grooming on wear tolerance.

A two-year study was conducted at the University of Tennessee East Tennessee Research and Education Center in Alcoa to test four popular bermudagrass varieties (Cynodon dactylon [L.] Pers. x Cynodon transvaalensis Burt-Davy) commonly used as athletic field turfs in the transition zone. The performance of ‘Tifway’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Mississippi Choice’, and ‘Riviera’ bermudagrass were compared after being subjected to either mowing or mowing plus grooming three times a week, as well as fall overseeding with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) .Simulated athletic traffic was applied twice a week to mimic high school football schedules using a Cady traffic simulator. Digital image analysis for each traffic event was used to measure changes in percent green cover, color, and turfgrass quality. Surface hardness values were determined using a Clegg Impact Hammer and total turf cover was measured visually once bermudagrass dormancy occurred.

Variety performance differed for each year of the study due to weather conditions. Overseeded and non-overseeded ‘Tifway’ and ‘Riviera’ bermudagrass consistently provided the highest percent green cover, color and quality ratings. However, overseeding bermudagrass improved wear tolerance of all varieties tested. Mowing plus grooming three times a week reduced percent turf cover in 2006 but not 2007, and had no effect on color or quality. Mowing plus grooming increased perennial ryegrass stand density following overseeding by providing better seed to soil contact. ‘Tifway’ and ‘Riviera’ bermudagrass provided the best color.

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