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Two new hybrid bermudagrass cultivars ‘Presidio’ (formerly UCR 17-8) and ‘Coachella’ (formerly UCR TP6-3) will be released for commercial purposes in limited quantities over the next three years. These grasses are a product of over nine years of testing by the turf breeding program at the University of California at Riverside. The work conducted by Dr. Jim Baird and his team at UC Riverside shows these grasses offer key benefits over older varieties such as ‘Tifway 419’, ‘Tifway II’ and ‘Santa Ana’. They even possess a few value-added traits compared to recently released varieties such as ‘TifTuf’, ‘Tahoma 31’ and ‘Latitude 36’. Here are some insights from observing these new grasses at the UC Riverside field day in September:

Traffic Tolerance: ‘Presidio’ seems to handle heavy golf cart traffic better than ‘Santa Ana’ and ‘TifTuf’, but research is ongoing and this observation has yet to be confirmed with data. 

Incidence of Mower Scalping: There was no scalping on ‘TifTuf’, ‘Coachella’ or ‘Presidio’, but all three replications of ‘Santa Ana’ showed mower scalping at the field day. This is similar to field observations that frequent mowing, vertical mowing and plant growth regulator applications are needed to avoid scalping ‘Santa Ana’ during summer months. 

Spring Greenup: In a recent study, ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’ had 6.0 and 6.3 spring greenup ratings, respectively, compared to ‘Tifway II’ at 5.2 and ‘Santa Ana’ at 5.7 (based on a 1-9 scale with 6 being acceptable and 9 being best). It is important to note that the difference in these ratings was not statistically significant, but the trend is for better greenup from ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’. 

Seedhead Production: Trials show both ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’ produce less seedheads than many commercially available cultivars. 

Drought Tolerance: ‘TifTuf’ has set a new standard for drought tolerance. Fortunately, ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’ perform similarly.

Color: ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’ offer dark green color. 

As far as the pending commercial release, limited quantities of ‘Coachella’ will be available in 2025 and a year later ‘Presidio’ will be available. The university is still in talks regarding a licensing agreement. Stay tuned for more information on who will supply the new cultivars.  

When it comes to courses actually converting to improved bermudagrass varieties, the first step is usually convincing leadership of the benefits and potential return on the investment. The water savings compared to cool-season grasses is significant – usually a minimum 30% reduction in converted areas. The excellent traffic tolerance and winter color retention of improved bermudagrasses in climates where frost is uncommon are additional points in favor of converting from cool-season grasses. For courses with an older bermudagrass that overseed in the fall, converting to one of these new varieties may allow you to forgo overseeding for better year-round playability and resource conservation. 

Once your course is ready to make a change, the next step is to get rid of the existing bermudagrasses. For tips on that process, please see my article “Out With the Old, In With the New: Converting to an Improved Bermudagrass.” 

West Region Agronomists: 

Brian  Whitlark, regional director –

Cory Isom, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Section Staff