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Are You Up To Speed With Your Seed? September 20, 2019 By Paul Jacobs, agronomist, Northeast Region

Even when no plant protectants are applied, some modern varieties of creeping bentgrass will perform well. As for the older varieties – not exactly. 

Turf damage was a common sight in the Northeast this year. This spring, many northern courses were dealing with winter injury on putting greens due to desiccation and crown hydration. Through the summer, turf decline in low-lying and poorly drained areas was common throughout the Northeast, as it was last year. In all these scenarios, seed is commonly used to reestablish fine turf areas. Fall is the ideal time to seed, for many reasons, as outlined in the recent USGA article, “The Time To Seed Is Now.” When purchasing seed, especially creeping bentgrass, it is important to look beyond cost to determine what variety of seed will best suit your needs.

Modern varieties of creeping bentgrass have been developed through turf breeding programs and selected for different traits. The traits that turf breeders select for in creeping bentgrass include dollar spot resistance, early spring greenup, density and drought tolerance. New varieties are far superior to many of the older varieties, but purchasing decisions are often based on the initial cost of the seed and newer varieties can be more expensive. However, selecting seed based purely on initial cost is shortsighted because many of the older varieties are much more expensive to maintain in the long term and are not as reliable.

Some courses have gone so far as to completely regrass their fairways to benefit from improved grasses, as outlined in the USGA article, “Fairway Regrassing – Can You Afford Not To?” While regrassing may not be for everyone, there is tremendous value in doing so because of reduced maintenance costs and improved performance. The growing number of courses that have regrassed fairways or greens highlights the value of improved turf varieties.

Whether you are seeding to reestablish small areas this fall or are planning a large-scale renovation, be sure to select a modern variety that has the traits that will best suit your particular situation. The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) is a great place to get up to speed on the latest seed varieties. This data is a valuable tool, but if you are planning a large project and have time, consider experimenting with different varieties at your facility. If you would like to discuss what grasses are performing well in your region and which varieties might be most appropriate for your unique situation, don’t hesitate to contact your regional USGA agronomist


Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director –

Adam Moeller, director, Green Section Education –

Elliott Dowling, agronomist –

Paul Jacobs, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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