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New Environmentally Friendly Turfgrass Ready for Golf CoursesBy Jan Suszkiw
May 1, 1998
TifEagle, a new bermuda turfgrass, debuts this summer on golf courses in Georgia and other southern states. TifEagle is the work of Wayne Hanna, a plant geneticist for USDAs Agricultural Research Service in Tifton, Ga. Hanna develops new varieties of high quality turf and forage grass that tolerate drought or resist pests so fewer chemical controls are needed.
Short, narrow leaves and a dense, fast-spreading root system make TifEagle ideal for use on putting greens. It also withstands the stress of routine mowing at heights of three millimeters or less. Thats not something many southern putting green varieties are generally known for, including the bermuda grass standard TifDwarf. The credit goes to Hannas efforts to breed a warm-season grass with short stolons--stem-like structures that produce shoots and leaves.
Most important, TifEagles leaf canopy stays lush and carpet-like, ensuring a golfers ball will roll quickly in the direction its putted. That same canopy also shades out pesky algae and weeds like crabgrass. This helps reduce the need for herbicide applications that can endanger groundwater.
ARS collaborators at the Georgia Seed Commission and the University of Georgia Research Foundation, both in Athens, are now propagating TifEagle. Theyll license foundation seed to certified sprig producers.
To develop TifEagle, Hanna subjected portions of the bermuda grass TifWay 2 to gamma radiation. He then selected offspring plants with mutations for short stolons. TifEagle was his top pick of 48 mutant plants.
Since 1991, about three dozen university scientists and golf superintendents have helped Hanna evaluate TifEagle on both experimental plots and commercial greens. Encouraged by the results, he applied for a patent. This will help preserve the genetic purity of TifEagles seed as it goes into commercial production.
A more detailed story appears in the April issue of Agricultural Research, ARS monthly publication. It can be viewed on the World Wide Web at: