Golf Course Management

FEB 2018

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

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72 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.18 Turfgrass breeders have worked hard to improve warm-season grasses, and the results are now obvious. In the last several years, we've gotten new cultivars of bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and buffalograss that allow for expanded use of these species, and with bet - ter results. Here, I'll highlight just a few of the cultivars that have helped advance each of these species for use in all areas of the golf course except putting greens — we'll address that subject later. Bermudagrass Tif Tuf bermudagrass was identified and selected from a large number of experimen - tal bermudagrasses by the USDA's Wayne Hanna, Ph.D., in Georgia as early as 1992, and was further evaluated and tested by Brian Schwartz, Ph.D., at the University of Geor - gia. It was a joint release of the University of Georgia and the USDA in 2016, and was licensed by the Turfgrass Group for produc - tion and marketing. Although bermudagrass as a species is considered drought-resistant, Tif Tuf takes this characteristic to a new level, surpassing other bermudagrasses in qual - ity during extended droughts. In addition, it has good autumn color and resistance to cold and shade. Latitude 36 and Northbridge bermuda- grasses have become the standard for use in Jack Fry, Ph.D. Advances in warm-season grasses (through the green) the transition zone on fairways, tees and driv- ing range complexes where winter injury can be a concern. Latitude 36 is recommended for use in the southern transition zone, and Northbridge for more northern transition zone sites. Sod Solutions owns the licensing and marketing rights to both bermudagrasses. Although Latitude 36 and Northbridge were initially developed by Charles Taliaferro, Ph.D., at Oklahoma State University, Yanqi Wu, Ph.D., contributed to their successful re - lease, and he now oversees the bermudagrass breeding program at OSU. His team just re - leased another high-quality, cold-hardy ber- mudagrass with excellent drought tolerance (evaluated under the experimental name OKC 1131) that will be available to growers soon. Zoysiagrass Although Meyer zoysiagrass has been the standard for use in the transition zone since the 1950s, a new cultivar was recently devel - oped that will finally offer golf courses an al- ternative. Innovation zoysiagrass was released jointly by Texas A&M AgriLife Research- Dallas and the Kansas State University Ag - ricultural Experiment Station. The devel- opment of Innovation was a team effort led by A&M researchers Milt Engelke, Ph.D., Ambika Chandra, Ph.D., Dennis Genovesi, Ph.D., and yours truly representing Kansas State. Licensing was to Sod Solutions, which will be handling nationwide marketing. Innovation is a hybrid between Zoysia ma - trella — a fine-textured, dense species that lacks cold hardiness — and Z. japonica, which has a coarser leaf texture and is less dense than Z. matrella types. Innovation brings the posi - tives of both species together, as it has fine leaf texture and high density, but cold hardiness comparable to Meyer. It will be marketed throughout the southern U.S. and the tran - sition zone, and should be available late this year or in early 2019. Buffalograss Sundancer buffalograss is a seeded cultivar that was released in 2014 and was developed through a cooperative effort between the Na - tive Turf Group and the University of Ne- braska-Lincoln. Compared with other seeded cultivars, Sundancer has a quicker establish- ment rate, a darker green color and higher density. The University of Nebraska has been de - veloping turf-type buffalograsses for more than 30 years. The program was initiated by Terry Riordan, Ph.D., and Keenan Amund - sen, Ph.D., now oversees it. Sundancer joins a long list of seeded and vegetative buffalo - grasses that have been released from the pro- gram, and more are on the way. Water availability will, in large part, dic - tate the demand for buffalograss. Where it's well adapted, buffalograss can essentially be grown without irrigation once it's fully estab - lished. Sod growers in the Midwest have re- cently grown netted buffalograss, and there is increasing demand for this product. Research has shown that some buffalograss cultivars can provide a quality playing surface at mow - ing heights commonly used on fairways and tees — it's not just for roughs. Warm-season grasses are considered a good choice where they're adapted, because they generally require reduced management inputs compared with cool-season grasses. Through their efforts in developing these cul - tivars, turfgrass scientists have improved on the characteristics of the warm-season grasses we commonly use, and all of them fit well into the do-right-for-the-environment mentality. Most of these cultivars will be on display this month at the Golf Industry Show in San An - tonio, so check them out while you're there. Jack Fry, Ph.D., is a professor of turfgrass science and the director of the Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center at Kansas State University in Manhattan. He is a 21-year educator member of GCSAA.

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