How experts at Pure Seed have shifted their focus in development of new turfgrass varieties

By |  September 26, 2023 0 Comments

Traditionally, there are three pillars on which a great turfgrass variety is built:

  • Drought tolerance;
  • Cold tolerance; and
  • Disease resistance.
(Photo: Pure Seed)

(Photo: Pure Seed)

But what about the plant’s ability to use water from less than desired sources, or water that might be considered low quality?

“Not only is there importance in reducing the amount of water turf needs, but it’s important to manage the different levels of water quality,” says Crystal Rose-Fricker, president of Pure Seed.

To find that balance, producers like Pure Seed have shifted their focus on how they develop new turfgrass varieties in recent years.

“We’ve shifted to more trait-specific varieties, so salt tolerance and being able to use lower-quality water,” says Austin Fricker, vice president of research at Pure Seed. “We’re seeing droughts become bigger and bigger issues, even in some places where we never thought that would be an issue.”

As a result, species like seashore paspalum — which can take ocean levels of salinity, according to Rose-Fricker — have become more popular in areas of the country where access to quality water is difficult.

A long winding road

Researching, developing, testing and then taking a turfgrass seed variety to market is a long process. Add the fluctuations in temperature and weather year after year, and the process becomes that much more difficult for growers.

“It takes 10 years to develop a variety, so that’s 10 different environments that the test has to go through,” says Crystal Rose-Fricker, president of Pure Seed. “So right now, I’m not even selecting anything because they’re all cooked in one of my trials.”

Despite those challenges, turfgrass breeders are still confident in their abilities to stay ahead of the game, says Austin Fricker, vice president of research at Pure Seed.

“It’s affirming to see that some of the things we’ve worked on, like more drought-tolerant ryegrass, has been worthwhile,” says Fricker. “It does make a difference and there is a place for it.”

This article is tagged with and posted in From the Magazine

About the Author: Rob DiFranco

Rob DiFranco is Golfdom's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Golfdom, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio

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