Scientists at the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, and the University of Wisconsin are working on a research project titled “Germplasm Improvement of Low-Input Fine Fescues in Response to Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors.” The goal of the project is to improve fine fescue traits while overcoming the barriers that limit professional turf managers from utilizing the turf in low-input situations. Fine fescues include creeping red, hard fescue, Chewings fescue and sheep fescue. Fine fescue cultivars are drought tolerant, require less fertilizer, and develop a deep root system.
The scientists met at the University of Minnesota to provide updates on their research and to make adjustments in their research going forward. The study is just wrapping up the second year of a five-year project and is making excellent progress. The research is funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Hard fescues and creeping red fescues were present in plots that performed best under simulated traffic stress. However, divot recovery has been very slow for all of the fine fescue mixtures in the test.
The USGA is supporting additional studies to evaluate mixtures of available fine fescue cultivars for wear tolerance and divot recovery. Several fine fescues have survived weekly traffic applied using a device that simulates cart traffic. Hard fescues and creeping red fescues were present in plots that performed best under traffic stress. However, divot recovery has been very slow for all of the fine fescue mixtures in the test. In addition to traffic tolerance and divot recovery, fine fescues are being evaluated for heat tolerance and resistance to snow mold.
Fine fescues can provide a lower-maintenance grass for golf course rough. The American Society of Golf Course Architects revealed in a survey of their members, “93 percent of respondents are helping their clients reduce the acreage of maintained turfgrass while providing the course’s strategic intent.”
Source: Mike Kenna