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Publication #ENH1132

Tropical Signalgrass Biology and Management in Turf1

J. Bryan Unruh, Ramon G. Leon, and Darcy E. P. Telenko2

Tropical signalgrass (Urochloa subquadripara), also known as small flowered alexandergrass, has become one of the most troublesome weeds in the southeastern turfgrass industry and is especially problematic in sod production. Tropical signalgrass is a warm-season perennial that is propagated by seed and stolons. Stems are usually trailing and creeping, rooting at the nodes. Leaf blades are flat, 0.3 to 0.5 in. wide and up to 0.75 in. in length. Both the leaf blade and sheath are hairy and the ligule has a short fringe of hairs. Flowering branches may reach 18 inches tall and produce two to seven branches or “fingers” in the raceme of the seedhead (Figure 1). In the field, tropical signalgrass germination occurs when soil temperatures reach 77°F (Figure 2). A soil pH of 5 to 6, which is common in Florida soils, is required for germination. Moisture is required for seed germination, and the typical dry season in Florida can delay tropical signalgrass infestation.

Preemergence application of benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr, imazaquin, and oryzalin will control tropical signalgrass up to 8 weeks after application.

Early postemergence application of asulam, metribuzin, or quinclorac will provide moderate control of tropical signalgrass when applied before the 8-leaf stage. Most selective postemergence herbicides will not control mature tropical signalgrass. Non-selective spot control of tropical signalgrass can be accomplished by making multiple spot-treatment applications of glyphosate with a preemergence herbicide such as pendimethalin added to the mix. This treatment will also kill the turfgrass, but it will help minimize future tropical signalgrass populations.

There is no management program available that will completely control tropical signalgrass, but using an integrated weed management program will help reduce tropical signalgrass in the long term.

Tropical signalgrass infestation can be minimized by careful mapping of infested areas and recording spray applications for proper herbicide timings and applications. Sanitation practices that include rinsing mowers between fields, controlling tropical signalgrass in ditches, minimizing unnecessary traffic in fields, and sprigging with weed-free stock will help minimize spread into noninfested areas. Before applying any product, refer to its label for specific application information and turfgrass tolerance.

Figure 1. 

Tropical signalgrass.


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Figure 2. 

Predicted tropical signalgrass emergence


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Figure 3. 

Tropical signalgrass


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Herbicide Options for Controlling Tropical Signalgrass in Florida Turfgrass

(Always refer to the label for specific uses, application rates, and turfgrass tolerance)

Bermudagrass

  • Preemergence: benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr, metolachlor, oryzalin, prodiamine, prodiamine + isoxaben, prodiamine + sulfentrazone

  • Postemergence: thiencarbazone + floramsulfuron+halosulfuron

St. Augustinegrass

  • Preemergence: benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr, metolachlor, oryzalin, prodiamine, prodiamine + isoxaben

  • Postemergence: asulam (sod production only)

Centipedegrass

  • Preemergence: benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr, metolachlor, oryzalin, prodiamine, prodiamine + isoxaben, prodiamine + sulfentrazone

  • Postemergence: sethoxydim

Bahiagrass

  • Preemergence: benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr, metolachlor, oryzalin, prodiamine, prodiamine + isoxaben, prodiamine + sulfentrazone

  • Postemergence: none

Seashore Paspalum

  • Preemergence: dithiopyr, prodiamine, prodiamine + isoxaben, prodiamine + sulfentrazone

  • Postemergence: none

Zoysiagrass

  • Preemergence: benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr, metolachlor, oryzalin, prodiamine, prodiamine + isoxaben, prodiamine + sulfentrazone

  • Postemergence: fenoxaprop, fluazifop

Perennial Ryegrass

  • Preemergence: benefin + oryzalin, benefin + trifluralin, dithiopyr

  • Postemergence: none

Refer to the publication, Pest Control Guide for Turfgrass Managers at http://turf.ufl.edu/pdf/2012_UF_Pest_Control_Guide.pdf for brand names associated with chemical names listed.

Citation

Teuton, T. C., C. L. Main, T. C. Mueller, J. B. Wilkerson, B. J. Brecke, J. B. Unruh. 2005. "Prediction modeling for tropical signalgrass (Urochloa subquadripara) emergence in Florida". Online. Applied Turfgrass Science doi:10.1094/ATS-2005-0425-01-BR.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH1132, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date June 2009. Revised February 2013 and April 2016. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

J. Bryan Unruh, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Ramon G. Leon, assistant professor, Agronomy Department; and Darcy E. P. Telenko, former postdoctoral research associate; UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, Jay, FL 32565.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.