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Research Project: National Turfgrass Evaluation Program

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

2019 Annual Report

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.

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.

Progress Report
Over the past year, 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. We continued our five-year trial to evaluate various cultivars, blends and grass/clover mixtures. Data collected at seventeen locations across the U.S. indicate that several of the tall fescue cultivars and blends continue to perform well, along with some fine fescue cultivars and blends of fine fescues. The mixtures with white or microclover™ overall have not performed as well as single cultivars or blends without clover, with the exception being one tall fescue mixture with strawberry clover. The western yarrow (Achillea millefolium) entry declined somewhat in 2018, but provided good cover and persistence in some locations. Low-input warm-season (C4) grass evaluations were initiated in summer 2018 at eleven locations, including species such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, buffalograss, blue grama and curly mesquite.

1. Water use and drought tolerance of turfgrasses. Water use on turfgrass is being scrutinized across the U.S. as periodic droughts or water shortages put pressure on potable water supplies. In 2016, NTEP developed a multi-site trial to measure the amount of water needed to keep cool-season grasses green and growing during a 100-day drought, or under reduced irrigation. The extremely reduced irrigation treatments resulted in the most severely damaged turf entries, with very few entries showing acceptable turf quality under low water levels. However, some grasses provided adequate cover at less extreme reductions in irrigation, which indicates that with proper cultivar selection, water use in turf may be reduced by 25%.