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Seed for New Roadside Grass Now on Sale

By Marcia Wood
October 15, 1999

An initial supply of seed for a new, low-maintenance perennial turfgrass will go on sale for the first time this month.

RoadCrest crested wheatgrass is designed for planting along roadsides and highways, at summer cabins, in "roughs" on golf-courses, or at similar sites in the Western United States. RoadCrest is also well suited for revegetating sites disturbed by mining, construction or wildfire, for example.

RoadCrest was developed over a 15-year period by geneticist Kay H. Asay and colleagues with the Agricultural Research Service along with scientists at Utah State University. Asay is based at the ARS Forage and Range Research Unit in Logan, Utah. ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In tests in Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, RoadCrest proved tolerant of cold and drought. The experiments showed RoadCrest should thrive in regions of the Intermountain and Great Plains states that have mild summer temperatures and receive about 10 to 20 inches of precipitation a year.

RoadCrest greens up earlier in spring than some of the other wheatgrasses Asay and co-researchers tested. Like other "cool-season" grasses that thrive in cool weather, RoadCrest becomes dormant and brown in mid-summer, but greens up again in late summer and fall. The plant's comparatively short stature means it may need mowing only once or twice during summer.

Small quantities of RoadCrest seed are now being marketed by the trio of western companies that hold licenses to sell it. They are Wheatland Seed, Inc., Brigham City, Utah; Bruce Seed Farm, Inc., Townsend, Mont., and Round Butte Seed Growers, Inc., Culver, Ore.

RoadCrest is a descendant of parent plants grown from seeds collected in Turkey and sent to ARS for testing.

Scientific contact: Kay H. Asay, ARS Forage and Range Research Unit, Logan, Utah, phone (435) 797-3069, fax (435) 797-3075,