Every homeowner who has a lawn or garden, is a farmer. Farmers should know that every lawn needs food and nutrients, or fertilizer, water, sun and…..SLEEP. Take a look at the grass plot below. This Palisades Zoysia is planted in a common area in Orange Beach, Alabama. A passerby would not notice something that is very obvious to me, a sod farmer’s daughter. At night, there is a downcast shadow on the grass that protects it from the bright street light. Keep in mind, the shadow is motionless during the night because the sun has set and the streetlamp does not move. During the day, when the shadow has disappeared, there is a dominant green line in the plot. Why?
The grass that is exposed to the tree’s shadow gets to “go to sleep” and does not
receive direct, artificial light from the street lamp. The street lamp is tricking the
grass into thinking it is having a 24/7 day. For Zoysia in Orange Beach, Mother
Nature allows for a normal day and a night cycle, but this photo is evidence of a
disruptor. The streetlight is casting an artificial cycle on the Zoysia, and the grass
exposed to constant light shows signs of stress. This reaction is caused by
photoperiod. The definition of photoperiod is the period of time each day during
which an organism receives illumination.
Photoperiod responses are fascinating. They cause chickens to molt, and goats
and sheep to become sexually receptive and fertile. They cause grass to “green
up” so they can grow toward the sun (referred to as ‘grain’ by golfers). Plants are
often grouped as determinate (ceasing vegetative growth and putting energy
into flowering based on day length) or indeterminate (flowering while continuing
to grow vegetatively).
Most people are aware that plants produce energy through the process of
photosynthesis. However, what some don’t know is that plants convert the energy to carbohydrates through respiration. Respiration in plants happens mostly at night. During respiration, plants consume nutrients to keep their cells alive while during photosynthesis, plants create their own food
My curiosity from here will be whether or not the temperature of green spring up
conditions will make the spot less noticeable as the other areas come out of
dormancy….we shall see. Until then, I know one thing for sure. Grass likes the
right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer AND SLEEP.
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