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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives of the National Evaluation Program (NTEP) are to develop and coordinate uniform evaluation trials of turfgrass varieties and experimental selections in the United States and Canada.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Cooperate with university and private industry personnel in establishing, maintaining and collecting data from turfgrass trials. The NTEP will be responsible for the summarization and distribution of data collected

3. Progress Report:
National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) tests were initiated, established, maintained and evaluated using standardized testing protocols. Data was collected across the U.S. and Canada by university researchers using standard procedures and formats. Data was submitted to NTEP, computer formatted, and statistically analyzed. Cultivars with superior disease, drought, heat and cold tolerance have been identified as well as cultivars with improved traffic tolerance. This information will be useful to turf managers in reducing pesticide and water and fertilizer use, thereby reducing environmental impact while maintaining the quality desired by users.

4. Accomplishments
1. Kentucky bluegrass cultivars with improved traffic tolerance. Five years of evaluations at three sites coordinated by the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program in Beltsville, MD have identified Kentucky bluegrass cultivars with improved tolerance of traffic (wear and compaction). Having consistent dense turf cover on playing fields and areas used for informal play is important to human health and safety, as well as to increase the environmental benefits that turf contributes, namely improving water quality, reducing erosion and decreasing pollution from runoff. Damage to turf used on football fields, soccer pitches, baseball diamonds and parks is a significant problem for turf managers nationwide. As the demand for natural turf facilities increases, and the nation becomes increasingly urbanized, the need for turfgrasses that will tolerate excessive wear and tear is crucial. This five-year study documents several Kentucky bluegrasses that show improved performance under extreme traffic simulations.

2. Turf species show differences in salt tolerance. Researchers from the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program and ARS scientists in Beltsville, MD have evaluated the tolerance of turf cultivars to low quality/saline irrigation. The use of recycled, low quality and/or saline irrigation water on golf courses, athletic fields and parks is required now in some regions of the U.S., and is being considered for use in many other areas as the amount of potable water available for turf irrigation is becoming limited. A multi-year study demonstrated true statistical differences among cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass. This research shows that it can take 3-5 years, under controlled field conditions, to adequately test for differences in salt tolerance in turf species.

3. Low input bentgrass cultivars identified. In the third year of a five-year trial, scientists with the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program and ARS in Beltsville, MD found significant differences among cultivars of bentgrass in low-input and irrigation restricted trials. Bentgrass is the most highly maintained turfgrass, due to the intensive play of golf courses, as well as the need to provide a supreme golfing surface. However, for environmental and economic reasons, there is considerable pressure to reduce inputs on golf courses. Data collected from the third year of our new bentgrass trial at a location in Farmingdale, NY identified entries with very good disease, insect and weed resistance. Established at one of the golf courses in Bethpage State Park, trials managed as a putting green and fairway were allowed to germinate and develop with very low pesticide and fertilizer use. During the second and third years, the trials were managed using reduced levels of fertilizer, water and pesticides, compared to normal bentgrass maintenance levels. A trial maintained at Logan, UT showed significant cultivar differences when maintained as a golf course fairway with reduced irrigation. The varieties identified at the end of these studies will be useful in managing golf courses with more sustainable practices.

Last Modified: 05/29/2017
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