Golf Course Management

AUG 2014

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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42 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.14 Teresa Carson tcarson@gcsaa.org twitter: @GCM_Magazine We all know who the A-listers are: Ange- lina Jolie is an A-lister, and so is Derek Jeter. They make the big bucks and they have skills or good looks (or both) that are the envy of the rest of us. But what about turf? Which cultivars are the A-listers? What are the characters of an A-lister, and which grasses outshine all the oth - ers in looks and sustainability? The Alliance for Low Input Sustainable Turf (also called A-LIST) was formed by sev - eral seed companies — Mountain View Seeds, Seed Research/Pickseed/DLF and Lebanon Turf — "to foster development of sustainable turfgrass varieties" that require fewer inputs and thereby beneft the environment. John Zajac of Mountain View Seeds is the execu - tive director. Murray Wingate, international marketing and sales manager for Lebanon Seaboard, ex - plains why the companies have joined forces: "New turfgrass varieties will beneft consumers who face the challenges of growing turf under drought and low-maintenance conditions. Using less inputs overall will help (turf man - agers) maintain grass economically over the long-term." To identify cultivars that are potentially more sustainable, the members of A-LIST will place some of their cultivars in trials alongside highly rated older cultivars for comparison purposes. These trials will test for characteris - tics such as drought, heat and stress tolerance, and the turf will not be treated with fungicides or insecticides. Leah Brilman, Ph.D., director of research for DLF, explains the rationale for the new trials: "Turfgrass breeders and seed compa - nies have made considerable investment in improving turf quality. However, many of our current trials evaluate cultivars under optimal, non-limiting growth conditions. As we move to preserving the benefts of turf for all users, we want to defne the minimum levels of fer - tility and water to achieve functional turf, and the best cultivars for this." The A-LIST project is in its early stages, but trials are under way at three universities in distinct geographic regions across the United States. The cooperators supervising the trials are Jim Baird, Ph.D., University of California– The A-LIST (water) Riverside; Grady Miller, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, Raleigh; and Bill Meyer, Ph.D., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. Trials including tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass were planted at all sites in fall 2013. Miller says, "We are screening A-LIST mate - rial for performance under low inputs (no pes- ticides after establishment and no water after establishment). We are early in the second year of evaluation at this point. These studies are not part of NTEP evaluations; (they are) com - pletely separate and managed very differently. The NTEP (trials) try to replicate 'typical management situations.' The A-LIST trials are low-input." In Southern California, Baird under - lines the importance of developing low-input turf cultivars. "The drought is the worst I've ever known it," he says. "All we hear about is turf reduction and turf removal. Part of the water puzzle is having the right species, the right cultivar. We need new cultivars that are drought-tolerant, and we need to provide in - formation so that superintendents can make better choices." In early July, both the North Carolina tri - als and the California site were in the midst of the dry-down period when the turf receives no water after establishment. During this period, the turf quality is evaluated digitally and vi - sually. When the green cover is reduced to 25 percent (50 percent in California), the water is turned back on and the ability of the turf to recover from the dry-down period is evaluated. Future plans call for a rainout structure and fa - cilities for testing cultivars' salt tolerance. Co- operators will also be added in the Midwest. Looking ahead, Miller says, "Coming off the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where the world was given a golf course with lower water and management inputs, it seems important that we consider what the future may be like in turfgrass management. Having grasses that can survive (with) little to no pesticide inter - vention and under drought situations may be- come the new normal." Teresa Carson (tcarson@gcsaa.org) is GCM 's science editor. In Southern California, Baird underlines the importance of developing low- input turf cultivars. "The drought is the worst I've ever known it," he says. A L L I A N C E F O R L O W I N P U T S U S T A I N A B L E T U R F

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