Kikuyugrass Management

Kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is a widely used turfgrass species on golf courses and athletic fields in tropical and subtropical regions of the world including Mexico, Africa, Australia and parts of South America. Although widely used there is little research on kikuyugrass management. Most management practices have evolved from trial and error. The good news is more research primarily in Australia is being conducted.

Gathering information from the literature, personal experience, and discussions with turfgrass managers, consultants and University personnel we are providing a guide or outline for kikuyugrass management. Like any guide, the suggestions are subject to change based on climatic and management conditions.

Mowing height (mm)13.0 range 9.5 - 19.013.0 ramge 9.5 - 1915.4 range 11.4 - 19.015.4 range 11.4 - 19.0
Comment: Mowing frequency can depend on growth rate but generally mowing is 3x to 4x times a week. Mow with heavier reels to get a better quality of cut and help reduce thatch. Some managers add weights to the reels. Light weight reels do not provide the quality of cut.

Vertical MowingDepth: 3.1 - 6.2 mm into soil; Most frequently done Depth: soil surface to 3.1 mm depth. Less frequent Depth: soil surface to 3.1 mm; Not very frequent None
Comment: Most frequent and intensive verticutting occurs in the spring. During summer intensity and frequency becomes considerably less. Too aggressive verticutting can slow turf recovery. Some who cannot afford the verticutting try to make up for it with more frequent mowing.

CoringYes, most important time-Yes, an important time -
Comment: Increasingly deep tine aerification is being used more frequently as the spring coring operation.

Fertilizing1 3 2 -
Comment: Spring fertilization is the most popular time, with fall 2nd and some during the summer. Kikuyugrass does not require much fertilization. One of the disadvantages to irrigating with affluent water on kikuyugrass is the nutrient account which needs to be accounted for.

Additional Comments:

Irrigation: Kikuyugrass likes moist soils but does not tolerate wet conditions (poorly drained sites for example). Don’t overwater. Some golf courses are experimenting with watering at 65 to 75 percent of ET (evapotranspiration). Effluent water is usually seen as a detriment to kikuyugrass management because nutrients contained in the water generally stimulate excessive growth.

Plant Growth Regulators: If available the most popular growth regulator used is trinexapac-ethyl (Primo MAXX), usually on a 14 day schedule. Rate increases on effluent water sites.

Topdressing: Some golf courses and athletic fields are sand topdressing to improve firmness and playing qualities. However, due to cost and some reports of turf decline not widely used at the moment.


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