As restrictions on water use, fertilization, and pesticide applications continue to increase, golf course superintendents will need to use grass species that require reduced inputs. The objective of this study was to evaluate alternative turfgrass species under low-input fairways conditions. In 2005, 17 species were established on native soil in St. Paul, MN. Each species was evaluated at three levels of traffic (zero, three, or six passes per week using a drum-type traffic simulator) and two mowing heights (1.90 and 2.54 cm). Data collected included turfgrass quality and percent living stand density. In 2006, velvet bentgrass (Agrostis canina L.), colonial bentgrass (Agrostis capillaris L.), and creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) maintained acceptable quality in all treatment combinations. In 2007, Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra L. ssp. fallax) and sheep fescue (Festuca ovina L.) were the top-performing species regardless of treatment. Hard fescue (Festuca brevipila Tracey) performed poorly in Year 1 and well in Year 2. All other species did not perform at an acceptable level during the study. The results of this study indicate that sheep fescue, Chewings fescue, colonial bentgrass, and velvet bentgrass should be studied further for use on low-input golf course fairways in the northern United States.
Consumers often have multiple choices when purchasing retail lawn products in stores. In this study, we evaluated the acute drought performance of locally available retail lawn seed products (mixtures or blends) at two mowing heights of 2.5 and 3 inches. We hypothesized that the species present in the products and the height-of-cut differentially influence the drought resistance and recovery of the mixtures and blends. In Fall 2016 and 2017, 28 different products consisting of 25 mixtures and 3 blends of turfgrass seeds were established under a fully automated rainout shelter at the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. The drought treatments lasted for 67 days in 2017, and 52 days in 2018; both the 2017 and 2018 treatments were followed by a recovery period. Data were obtained during acute drought treatments and recovery periods for visual turfgrass quality and green turfgrass cover using digital images of the plots. During the first year, several products displayed higher green stability (or the ability to remain green) at the 3-inch height-of-cut compared with the 2.5-inch height-of-cut. Products with tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus) and fine fescue (Festuca sp.) as dominant species generally performed better during the drought treatments, whereas an increasing presence of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) decreased the visual drought performance of the products. During the recovery period, an effect of the interaction between mowing height and the date of data collection on the percentage of green cover was observed: the lower mowing height improved the early recovery of green cover after acute drought. These findings suggest that consumers in the upper midwestern United States and areas with a climate similar climate to that of St. Paul, MN, who are challenged with multiple choices of lawn seed products should choose products containing a higher tall fescue content and adjust their mowing heights to optimize recovery.
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.
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.