A Q & A on the Sustainable Turfgrass Species
While seashore paspalum is now widely recognized as a high-performance turfgrass for golf, sports, and landscape applications, it is the new kid on the block compared to bermudagrass and zoysia. Given its shorter history of usage, turf managers may not have as much education or experience with the species. A Q & A session with renowned plant breeder Dr. Ron Duncan covers the basic facts of seashore paspalum.
What makes paspalum more salt tolerant than other turfgrass species?
Genetics. The grass evolved on sand dunes exposed to both ocean water and rainfall and, as a result, is well-buffered to tolerate salinity challenges in the water and in the soil. The grass does not remove salts from the soil profile. (Learn more about turfgrass salinity in the Water and Soil Management section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)
Does paspalum need to be irrigated with saline water to perform optimally?
No, the grass is buffered genetically to tolerate rainwater and saline irrigation water. Ocean water should not be used as the primary irrigation water source since salt accumulation in the soil will be a primary limitation to long-term sustainability.
How far north can paspalum be planted?
35 degrees north/south latitude.
Can paspalum putting greens provide a similar putting surface to ultradwarf bermudas?
Excellent, championship-quality putting greens are achievable with paspalum, but paspalum putting greens are different from ultradwarf hybrid bermudagrass greens, just like zoysiagrass greens are different from bermudagrass greens. Different plant anatomical physical characteristics and different greens management strategies. (Learn more about managing paspalum greens in the Greens Management section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)
Are the nitrogen requirements for paspalum lower than bermuda species?
Expect nitrogen requirements for paspalum to be 50%+ less compared to bermudagrass.
Can plant growth regulators be used on paspalum?
Yes, most plant growth regulators can be applied to paspalum, but the physiological response to Primo PGRs on paspalum is different compared to bermudagrass. (Learn more about growth regulators and paspalum in the Herbicides and Weed Control section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)
Can salt be used as a natural herbicide on paspalum?
Yes, salt can be used as a supplement herbicide since it shuts down growth rates in weedy species and can enhance the efficacy of applied reduced-rate herbicide chemistry in most cases.
Is paspalum an invasive species?
Generally, paspalum is not an invasive species, and in ocean-exposed lagoons will often grow a foot or two out into the lagoons or mangrove swamps. (To distinguish myth from truth about paspalum, visit the General Paspalum Information section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)
Is paspalum more disease prone than bermuda and zoysia?
All turfgrass diseases that attack warm season grasses can equally attack paspalum, bermudagrass, and zoysiagrass. The localized ecosystem and micro-environmental conditions that promote fungal or bacterial or nematode attacks have the potential to attack all of these grasses on a site-specific basis. (For more information on disease treatment for paspalum, visit the Disease section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)
Can paspalum be grown in the shade?
Paspalum, in general, has good shade tolerance and is significantly better than bermudagrass. SeaIsle 1 and Platinum TE have exhibited the best shade tolerance, and Platinum TE is, to this point, superior in shade tolerance among all paspalum cultivars.
Are special mowers required to maintain paspalum?
The same mowers that are used on bermudagrass and zoysiagrass can be used on paspalum. On greens mowers, maintaining sharp cutting blades is a key management strategy since paspalum has a heavy wax load on the leaves that can contribute to dull blades and less than optimal cutting quality.
How does Platinum TE compare to older paspalum varieties?
Platinum TE was selected as an improved cultivar for multiple traits compared with other cultivars. It can be planted on greens, tees, fairways, roughs, and on all sports fields.
How does Platinum TE’s drought tolerance compare to bermuda and zoysia?
Platinum TE and all paspalum cultivars do not have the same genetic mechanisms governing drought tolerance compared to bermudagrasses. Bermudagrass goes drought-dormant, and paspalum cultivars do not go dormant under severe drought stress. (For more information on paspalum’s drought tolerance, visit the General Paspalum Information section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)
Can Platinum TE be overseeded?
Yes, paspalum can be overseeded/interseeded with cool season grasses and tolerates the shading issues from the overseed much better than bermudagrass. (For more information about overseeding paspalum, visit the Maintenance Tips section of the Platinum TE Technical Support Library.)