There is no such thing as a perfect turfgrass. All have their strengths and specific uses for which they are inherently best suited. How well turf managers deal with the negative issues of the cultivar chosen for a particular use and site is what separates good from mediocre turfgrass performance.
A good turfgrass area begins with a well adapted, if not the best adapted, cultivar for that area. It is much cheaper to manage a well adapted grass and much easier to produce a high-quality playing surface or park with good genetic material. However, to develop best management practices, there needs to be a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the particular cultivar.
Much of the department’s research has been directed towards determining the requirements for the optimal growth of turf and assessing turf varieties, such as the green couches (Cynodon dactylon and its hybrids with C. transvaalensis). The in-ground turfgrass collection at Redlands Research Facility numbers 137 different vegetative and seeded warm-season turfgrass varieties from 21 species. This is the most comprehensive living collection of warm-season turfgrasses in the world.
A number of industry funded and contract research projects have been initiated within the departmnet’s research program, investigating a range of issues associated with Cynodon turfgrasses. These include:
- performance of six new hybrid Cynodon greens cultivars relative to the two current industry standards
- performance of new Cynodon cultivars relative to standard varieties in Victoria
- response of six turfgrasses (including two Cynodon cultivars) to nitrogen fertiliser
- screening of 40 Cynodon cultivars to determine their salt tolerance relative to other turfgrass species and cultivars
- screening of 27 turfgrasses (including nine Cynodon cultivars) for their tolerance of chemicals, mainly pesticides and herbicides
- wear tolerance of eight Cynodon cultivars
- on-going trials to describe new cultivars for Plant Breeder´s Rights (PBR) registration based on differences in plant morphology and development
- turf breeding research to develop more water-efficient and nutrient-efficient Cynodon turfgrasses.