October 16,
  With the Maryland SoccerPlex 
A weekly newsletter to keep you informed about EVERYTHING Turf at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
This week we are going back to the basics as we take a look at the individual parts of the turfgrass plant!
Start from the bottom!
Most people know plants have roots. However did you know the root is also one of, if not the most important part of the plant. The roots are the below ground part of the grass. Its purpose is to absorb water and the nutrients necessary for the plant, such as nitrogen. The roots themselves are fibrous, slender and they branch out to cover as much space as possible. The roots are the part of the plant that determines how strong the rest of the turfgrass plant is.
Stems - yes there are more than one type!
There are 2 types of stems in grass: the crown, and horizontal stems known as the rhizomes and stolons. The crown isn't a stem you can see easily. It is a small part of the stem that is enclosed by leaf sheaths so that is in a protected position between the roots and the shoot near the soil surface. The horizontal stems begin forming in the crown and eventually into rhizomes or stolons. A rhizome will start below ground then eventually rise to the surface to form new shoots. In bermudagrass the rhizome will produce growing points, or nodes, which eventually form new root systems and an entirely new "daughter plant." The stolons grow above-ground and form nodes as well, allowing new plants to emerge.
The part we see - The leaves!
The most commonly seen parts of grass are the plant leaf itself. The grass leaf is divided into three different parts: the blade, sheath, and collar region. The blade is the long and narrow portion of the plant that you see with the naked eye looking at the turfgrass. The sheath is the part of the leaf that envelopes the crown part of the stem mentioned earlier. This provides a little extra protection for the crown as it is the first part of the plant to break through the surface. The collar region is located where the leaf and sheath meet.

The tiller is not exactly a leaf however leaves grow off the tiller. The tiller is essentially a branch that will grow off the main stem that can also have blades grow off of it as well. The tiller grows from the crown region.
Get ready for the chill!
As the temperature drops it is important that we keep the roots as protected as possible. As we learned, the roots are the foundation of the turfgrass plant and while the leaf can go dormant, the roots will still be alive. Our bermudagrass fields are dormant in the early spring and late fall because of the lower soil temperatures. When the leaf goes dormant, it can turn a brownish color, while it might look like it's dead, the roots are actually still gathering nutrients under the ground.

Throughout the entire season our grounds crew is ensuring the health of the root of the turfgrass plant and roots by aerating, irrigation, proper mowing, and periodic fertilization. This is how we are able to strengthen those roots going into the chillier weather. Other precautions we will take is putting covers (turf blankets) out to keep the soil temperature at a desirable level for fields that need a little extra boost of recovery time. We also put out small covers in high traffic areas such as goal mouths, especially on our warm-season fields to help them have warm soil temperatures for as long as possible. 

As this weather continues to be crazy and cold you might see more and more covers around the SoccerPlex!
Next Week
Check in next week for another round of Turf Talk!
Ask Us Your Questions
Do you have a burning turfgrass related question? Ask us! We will be happy to answer it in future iterations of Turf Talk - just email us at info@mdsoccerplex.org, subject line Turf Talk Question.
Many Thanks to Fine Earth Landscape, Inc. for 
Their Continued Support of the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Learn more about Fine Earth here.