Fraze Mowing Bermudagrass- Summary of A New Concept
Fraze mowing is a process that has spread across the European field maintenance industry. Fraze mowing is simple- using a Koro Field Topmaker, the top layer of the field is removed (1/4-1/2″ down). That removed top layer includes materials that can cause issues with a field…. detrimental build ups from a growing season are annually removed to create a better environment for plant strength and field playability.
1) Black layer/ surface slickness is eliminated
2) Thatch build up causing softness and giving a home for disease pathogens and pests is cleaned out
3) Weed seed (including poa annua) is removed.
Cultural practices such as core aeration, verti-cutting, sweeping, topdressing, etc clean out these “challenges” as well. The difference in these cultural practices v. fraze mowing is that the cultural practices slowly remediate the issues over time. Fraze mowing removes the issues immediately. Certainly the intentions with slow remediation are good… but likely the end goal never gets reached. With fraze mowing, the recovery time can be a bit longer… but the issues are completely fixed and the field is at full strength again.
Fraze mowing with a Koro Field Topmaker is a process created for cool season turf grass, as European fields are primarily ryegrass. And fraze mowing, in conjunction with the entire Koro Renovation Process, has been revolutionary for cool season surfaces… creating a more durable surface free of poa annua and weeds.
Fraze Mowing Bermudagrass Playing Fields in the USA
Fraze mowing warm season turf looks to have more potential to revolutionize warm season fields even more so than cool season. Heres why:
1) Clean out thatch completely – No thatch allows bermudagrass to grow laterally instead of vertically to get through the thatch, creating a more durable plant – No thatch reduces the potential for disease pathogens and pests to attack – No thatch creates a better environment for overseeding to grow, as seed easily can make soil contact to root completely and requires less water
2) Clean out previous year’s overseeding and weed seed bank
3) Promote stronger bermudagrass plants that are attached to the soil and save energy as they grow laterally… not vertically through thatch
At Maryland SoccerPlex, we tried froze mowing bermudagrass in early September for the 1st time. Here is how the process proceeded:
The results were dramatic with recovery… And no fertilizer or extra water was added to promote grow-in. The existing rhizomes started putting on leaves and runners nearly immediately, even in early September when day length was shortening and night-time temperatures fell into the 40’s by Day 7. The experiment was to see how quickly the bermudagrass would re-establish w/out encouragement. Certainly it showed it is resilient!
Campey Turf Care and Imants (manufacturer of the Koro Field Topmaker) then introduced us to the new “Universe” rota that had been designed for the Field Topmaker that has just come to market at the STMA Show in Daytona. “Universe” was initially designed for fraze mowing Desso fields (sand fields sewed with synthetic carpet fibers). The cork screw motion and smaller teeth do not break off or pull out the synthetic fibers.
It instantly became obvious that the “Universe” would work very similar on the long, bermudagrass plants as it does on the synthetic Desso fibers – The cork screw motion would “clean out” the thatch and foreign material in the top layer of a bermudagrass field without removing the strong, established bermudagrass plants completely – The established, strong plants then would have the ability to re-generate even more quickly than when fraze mowed with the standard Field Topmaker rota with much wider teeth
Upon demoing a prototype of the “Universe” in October on burned down bermudagrass at a golf course in Phoenix, AZ, it became clear that the “Universe” is a next generation cultivation tool for “cleaning out” bermudagrass:
Now the “Universe” has been introduced to the world via the winter trade shows in Europe and the United States. There are 4 “spirals” of teeth wrapped around the rota for a 100% removal of material. 2 “spirals” of teeth can be removed to reduce the impact of fraze mowing and leave more material if the user desires.
Certainly fraze mowing bermudagrass, or any grass for that matter, is an extremely aggressive approach to turfgrass maintenance. But the positives are overwhelming if a field is able to be taken out of rotation for a week or so: 1) Reduces/ eliminates multiple verti-cuttings during the season 2) Reduces the amount of ryegrass seed needed for overseeding 3) Reduces the amount of water required to germinate the rye grass seed 4) Reduces/ eliminates the need for chemical rye grass and weed herbicides for cleaning out and transitioning back to 100% bermudagrass 5) Creates a stronger stand of bermudagrass as the strongest survive and sustain as the plants that begin to take over the stand 6) Reduces/ eliminates scalping and “tufting” of the bermudagrass as it is growing laterally across the ground instead of growing vertically through thatch 7) Allows energy savings and creates thicker, tougher bermudagrass plants because extreme elongation isn’t taking place to get through the thatch to the sun
Closing Thoughts/ Personal Observations: Certainly there are challenges with fraze mowing with the “Universe” rota on a Koro Field Topmaker. The amount of material generated is going to be vast, especially the 1st time. Additionally, the availability of machines is limited. But ultimately, the biggest challenge to fraze mowing and “cleaning out” bermudagrass is that being so aggressive to a field will make any field manager nervous. It will create nervous administrators and users as well.
But no different from world-class facilities such as Wimbledon, Old Trafford (Manchester United), Emirates Stadium (Arsenal), Manchester United’s Carrington Training Ground, Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu, and FC Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium, United States fields can quickly adopt the aggressive approach and see a dramatic change in field quality just as those in Europe. “Cleaning out” bermudagrass by fraze mowing is absolutely a concept from the future that will revolutionize bermudagrass field quality and durability.
Please share your thoughts and give feedback to whether you think it might fit!!