New Environmentally Friendly Turfgrass Ready for Golf CoursesBy
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
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
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
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:
Scientific contact: Wayne Hanna, USDA-ARS
and Turf Grass Research Unit, Tifton, Ga. (912) 391-3701,