North Carolina State University has signed a long-term agreement with turfgrass research, development and marketing company Sod Solutions to research and create a line of turfgrass varieties that will balance global environmental challenges while aiming for the “curb appeal” of attractive landscapes. This partnership, called Turf Research North Carolina (TRNC) was made in conjunction with the North Carolina Sod Producers Association (NCSPA) and is supported by a select group of NCSPA turfgrass grower members. Grasses currently under development include St. Augustine, zoysia, bermudagrass and centipede, with potential for other varieties. The improved lawn grasses are being developed by renowned North Carolina State University turfgrass breeder, Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis, with release dates to follow over the next several years.
“We are very excited about this joint venture that will help us transition breeding efforts at NC State into commercial varieties for the southeastern United States,” said Dr. Milla-Lewis in a statement. “We look forward to this mutually beneficial relationship among North Carolina State University, Sod Solutions and the NC Sod Producers Association.”
“Next generation” turfgrasses currently under development in the program are bred with the goal of achieving enhanced qualities such as improved drought toughness, better cold tolerance and lower water and chemical needs.
“I see this as a long term win for the consumers of North Carolina, the turfgrass growers, the NCSPA and the continuation of work at NC State to breed the future of sustainable turfgrass,” said John Williams, immediate past president of NCSPA. “As these future superior turfgrass varieties come to the marketplace, the sod producers of North Carolina will be leading the next generation.”
The growers will contribute financially to the TRNC program over a six-year period, which will help fund the research and development of these varieties. All NCSPA participating growers contributing to the program will have exclusive access to the grasses when they are released. Sod Solutions will handle licensing outside of the state and internationally.