Consumptive water use and crop coefficients for warm-season turfgrass species in the Southeastern United States
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2015 Elsevier B.V. Increased urban demand for landscape irrigation, as well as interest in promoting water-use efficient species by municipalities, water purveyors, and homeowners associations emphasize the need for comparative data on consumptive water use by warm-season lawn grasses. The objective of this study was to quantify actual evapotranspiration (ETa) and to develop crop coefficients (Kc) for four warm-season turfgrass species, namely 'Tifway' bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. x Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt-Davy), 'Empire' zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.), 'Floratam' St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walter) Kuntze], and 'Argentine' bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge). Crop coefficients were derived by dividing ETa (measured directly from lysimeter weight change over 24 to 72-h periods) by reference evapotranspiration (ETo) calculated from the ASCE-EWRI Standardized Method using onsite weather station data. Data were collected over three seasons from non-stressed, well-watered turf. For 17 of the 30 measurement periods, Kc did not differ among the 4 species, and on 24 of 30 periods zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, and St. Augustinegrass Kc did not differ from one another. A trend toward elevated Kc was observed in bahiagrass in years 2 and 3, particularly during early spring measurement periods. Kc values for all species fluctuated across seasons and years, peaking to ~0.8 during active growth periods when vapor pressure deficit and solar radiation were greatest, and declining to ~0.3 in late fall and winter. Root growth differences among the species appeared to have a stronger relationship to ET rates than did shoot growth rate. Results demonstrated that the commonly recommended warm-season turf coefficient of 0.6, while approximating overall average annual ETa, under-predicted ETa during active growth periods and over-predicted ETa during late fall and winter periods, when turf was slowly growing or quiescent. The results indicate seasonal refinement of Kc values may be needed to more effectively meet consumptive water use requirements of warm-season turfgrasses.