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Open access

Chengyan Yue, Manlin Cui, Eric Watkins, and Aaron Patton

Important financial savings, along with reductions in environmental impact, can be achieved by planting lawns with low-input turfgrass species. Drawing on data from an online survey, this article provides empirical evidence on the factors that influence consumers’ willingness to adopt low-input turfgrasses. We group consumers into two segments: Willing Adopters and Reluctant Homeowners. Regardless of segment, consumers who regard maintenance requirements as more important were more willing to adopt low-input turfgrasses, whereas those who placed a higher value on appearance, were more unlikely to change to a low-input turfgrass, especially for Reluctant Homeowners. We categorized the barriers to adoption as follows: 1) Promotion, 2) Benefits and Accessibility, 3) Peer Effect, 4) Sample, and 5) Information. Our models predict that consumers’ willingness to adopt low-input turfgrass can be significantly increased if the identified barriers are removed. Based on our study, suppliers/retailers should adopt heterogeneous and multiple marketing strategies, such as promoting through multiple channels, informing and advising the public on proper information, providing photos or exhibiting in-store samples, triggering communication between different types of consumers, and providing incentives and improving accessibility, to target different consumer groups.

Free access

Austin L. Grimshaw, Yuanshuo Qu, William A. Meyer, Eric Watkins, and Stacy A. Bonos

In recent years, turfgrass breeders have given increased attention to the development of lower maintenance turfgrass cultivars. Fine fescues (Festuca spp.) have been identified as potential candidate species for low-maintenance lawns because of their reduced need for water, mowing, and fertilizer. Unfortunately, these species have some weaknesses that must be improved to facilitate their use; perhaps, the most important of these is tolerance to wear and traffic. For this trait to be improved in new cultivars, there must be sufficient heritable variation available for plant breeders to exploit; however, little is known about the heritability of this complex trait in fine fescue species. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the heritability of wear and traffic tolerance in three fine fescue species. Replicated field studies were established in North Brunswick, NJ, and St. Paul, MN, and each included 157 Chewing’s fescue (Festuca rubra L. subsp. fallax), 155 hard fescue (Festuca brevipilia), and 149 strong creeping red fescue (F. rubra L. subsp. rubra) genotypes. Wear tolerance was evaluated in North Brunswick and traffic tolerance was evaluated in St. Paul during 2015 and 2016 using different simulators to determine both plant performance and broad-sense heritability estimates for wear and traffic tolerance. Broad-sense heritability estimates for the three species when calculated on a clonal basis was between 0.69 and 0.82 for wear tolerance in the North Brunswick location and between 0.49 and 0.60 for traffic tolerance in the St. Paul location. On a single-plant basis, broad-sense heritability estimates for the three species were between 0.31 and 0.45 for wear tolerance in the North Brunswick location and 0.09 and 0.12 for traffic tolerance in St. Paul. However, this research does indicate that improvement of wear and traffic tolerance in fine fescues is possible through recurrent breeding methods based on selection of replicated clonally propagated genotypes rather than selection of single individual plants of a population. This was the first study to determine the genetic effects of wear and traffic tolerance in any turfgrass species.

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Daniel R. Miller, Robert J. Mugaas, Mary H. Meyer, and Eric Watkins

Several studies have been conducted on low-maintenance turfgrass species; however, relatively few have evaluated mixtures or blends. The objective of this study was to evaluate low-maintenance turfgrass mixtures or blends for turf quality under minimal input conditions. Eight turfgrass mixtures or blends were planted in 2009 at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Chaska, MN) on a low-fertility soil to assess their adaptability to low-input conditions (minimal water and fertilizer and no pesticides after establishment). The year after establishment, plots were divided into no-mow and minimal mow treatments. Plots were evaluated for establishment in 2009 and overall quality and percent weed cover in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Native grass mixtures established slowly with greater weed encroachment, but over time resulted in high-quality ratings. Under minimal mowing, the Tall Fescue Blend [tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)] performed the best for quality, while three fine fescue (Festuca sp.) mixtures and the Tall Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass Mixture [tall fescue + kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)] also had acceptable quality ratings. The Kentucky Bluegrass Blend (kentucky bluegrass) was less competitive with weeds and had unacceptable quality ratings. Under no-mow conditions, the native grass mixtures and the Tall Fescue Blend had the highest overall quality ratings.

Free access

Chengyan Yue, Jingjing Wang, Eric Watkins, Stacy A. Bonos, Kristen C. Nelson, James A. Murphy, William A. Meyer, and Brian P. Horgan

The development and evaluation of new turfgrass cultivars require considerable resources. A systematic understanding of the breeders’ and distributors’ trait selection behavior can provide a basis for making adjustments and improvements based on industry needs and thus accelerate the breeding process and make it more efficient. The objective of this study is to investigate the selection priorities for turfgrass traits and identify the most influential factors affecting turfgrass breeders’ and distributors’ likelihood of selecting turfgrass traits. Results show that the most important trait clusters for both breeders and distributors were abiotic stress resistance and growth characteristics. Breeders were more likely than distributors to select appearance traits when setting trait priorities. Program characteristics such as program size, education level, and being a male respondent had positive effects on the reported likelihood of selecting studied turfgrass traits, and these effects varied for different trait clusters.

Full access

Chengyan Yue, Jingjing Wang, Eric Watkins, Stacy A. Bonos, Kristen C. Nelson, James A. Murphy, William A. Meyer, and Brian P. Horgan

An online survey was conducted to investigate the current practices of and challenges for turfgrass breeders and turfgrass seed distributors (or sales staff) in the United States. We found that turfgrass seed breeders rated producers/growers and consumers as more important parties compared with other interested parties. However, variations in ratings were found for breeders/distributors according to different program characteristics. The volume of seed sales of the species was the most highly rated technical consideration for both breeders and distributors. Compared with distributors, breeders considered the following technical factors more important than others: funding, labor, field trial performance, diversity in working priorities, availability of germplasms, scheduling, and staff training. Costs, followed by resource allocation and resource availability, were rated as the most challenging factors when breeders were implementing priorities. Our findings provide important insight regarding breeding and distribution practices and management in the turfgrass industry.

Open access

Chengyan Yue, Jingjing Wang, Eric Watkins, Yiqun Xie, Shashi Shekhar, Stacy A. Bonos, Aaron Patton, Kevin Morris, and Kristine Moncada

Identifying sources of turfgrass cultivar performance data can be difficult for many consumers. Currently, the best source for data of this type is the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP). Unfortunately, these data are made public in a format that is not readily usable for most consumers. Ideally, turfgrass cultivar data would be available in an easily accessible database. We conducted an online survey to investigate user preferences for accessing publically available turfgrass performance data in the United States. We found users desire a turfgrass cultivar performance database that allows for the identification of cultivars best adapted and tolerant to environmental stresses. The information on turfgrass mixtures and blends is also important to most users. Users’ sociodemographic backgrounds, such as gender, education, occupation, and experience in the turf industry, affected their attitudes toward information provided in the turfgrass database. Turfgrass consumers need the new database to provide information on identifying turfgrass options that are resource efficient and endophyte resistant. Turfgrass breeders, researchers, and extension specialists use the turfgrass database to compare different turfgrasses cultivars to do further analysis. The results of this study provide important implications on how an updated turfgrass cultivar performance database and platform can fulfill the different needs of turfgrass researchers, extension personnel, breeders, and stakeholders.