Selecting a turfgrass is one of the most important decisions a field manager must make, and the health and playability of your field is dependent on making the right choice. Fortunately, researchers and sod growers are working together to provide new varieties and custom blends to meet the demand. Here’s a look at some of the latest news in the grass-growing world.

Photo courtesy of Sod Solutions.

Barenbrug/Sod Solutions

Field managers, sod growers and researchers all have the same goal in mind: a grass that can thrive in any climate, withstand heavy traffic, offer pest and disease resistance and require minimal maintenance. While the Holy Grail of grasses may not exist yet, the industry has made great strides in developing improved turf types.

Justin Wallace, director of communications for Sod Solutions (http://www.sodsolutions.com) said, “We are always seeking out the ‘perfect’ grass but haven’t found it yet. What we have found are varieties that have improved features that consistently push the envelope in terms of overall performance with less maintenance.”

Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass (RPR), developed by Barenbrug USA (http://www.barenbrug.com) and released for sod production by Barenbrug and Sod Solutions, is a self-regenerating perennial rye-grass building determinate stolons, the first perennial ryegrass having this particular characteristic. The creeping ryegrass also has a high wear tolerance, making it suitable for sports field usage. Disease and pest resistance minimizes maintenance requirements.

And, other new turf varieties are always in development. Right now, Sod Solutions, the University of Florida and over 20 Florida sod farms are partnering to seek out a new coarse-bladed zoysia variety that will address large patch disease, drought and shade.

Photo courtesy of Jacklin Seed.

Jacklin Seed

With so many varieties on the market, choosing the perfect turf for your location requires some research. Fortunately, one seed company created a tool to help field managers choose a turfgrass via smartphone. Earlier this year, Jacklin Seed (http://www.jacklin.com) introduced an agronomic seed application, available for iPhone and Android. Developed in conjunction with leading turf research, scientific and educational experts, this app provides quick access to research data, product information, and a variety of recommendations based on region, turf usage and specific growth traits.

“We always look for ways to improve access to information and support for our customers. We know that with the right information our customers make the best decisions for their turf,” said Chris Claypool, general manager of Jacklin Seed.

The app is available for free through the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Landmark Turf and Native Seed

Each field is different, and determining the right blend of turf types for a specific location is critical to ensuring a safe, playable surface. When Ron Novinska became the first groundskeeper of Oregon School District, Oregon, Wis., in 2003 he faced a variety of challenges in rehabbing the heavily used, and heavily compacted, fields. Novinska decided on seed mixes from Landmark Turf and Native Seed (http://www.landdmarkturfandnativeseed.com), an 80/20 mix of Kentucky Thermal Blue or SPF 30 along with other bluegrasses and perennial rye.

Photo courtesy of Landmark Turf and Native Seed.

Landmark’s National Accounts Manager Wayne Horman said, “We selected a blend that has tendencies for quick repair and better wear tolerance.”

Novinska’s work paid off: Oregon High School won the Sports Turf Managers Association’s 2012 High School Sports Field of the Year Award.

News From the NTEP

One of the greatest resources available to anyone buying, growing or caring for turfgrass is the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP). One of the most widely known turf research programs in existence, NTEP collects data on turf color, quality, disease resistance, drought tolerance and more for species across the U.S. and Canada. They are constantly conducting trials, so there is always new information to report, here’s the latest.

New data from 2011 Kentucky bluegrass trials, as well as data from 2012 perennial ryegrass and bermudagrass trials is now available online at http://www.ntep.org. First year trial data is a good determinate of establishment rate, but disease and pest resistance data will be limited until the five-year trials are further along.

This summer, new zoysia and bermuda trials were shipped to cooperators for planting. These two trials consist of 52 total vegetative entries (along with 18 seeded entries in the bermuda trial). Establishment data will be collected throughout this year, with more detailed data collection beginning in 2014.