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University of Georgia Turfgrass Program

The Turfgrass Program in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is an interdisciplinary effort of 17 scientists working together in extension, research and teaching. The faculty address the needs of all segments of the industry mainly through the departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, and Entomology located at three campuses; Athens (College Station), Griffin (CAES - Griffin Campus), and Tifton (Coastal Plain Experiment Station). The teaching program is located in Athens while the research program is centered in Griffin, but conducted at all three locations as is the extension program.

Since Environmental Quality is directly related to turfgrass management, all activities have environmental stewardship implications. Some of the more specific activities include breeding for stress resistance, evaluating new practices regarding turfgrass cultural management, water management/conservation, pesticide/nutrient fate, and pesticide exposure.

The Turfgrass Breeding and genetics program is conducted in Tifton and Griffin. The Tifton program is responsible for the development of most hybrid bermudagrasses used for turf throughout the world. Led by the cultivar, Tifway, all "Tif"-named cultivars were developed here. Since 1983, the Tifton program has been actively developing new seeded and vegetatively propagated bermudagrass and centipedegrass cultivars with pest resistance and drought and low temperature tolerance. The newest releases include TifSport and TifEagle bermudagrasses and TifBlair centipedegrass.

In 1989, the breeding program at the CAES - Griffin Campus was initiated. This program has focused on screening turfgrasses for tolerance to the inherent environmental stresses of high soil acidity, high soil bulk density, and periodic heat and drought stresses in the Southeast. Most cultivars/selections representing the turfgrass species grown throughout the world have been screened. In 1992, the only breeding program in the world involving improved seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) for turf was initiated. This species has high salt and drought tolerance, low fertility requirements, and withstands water logging and non potable water. In 1999, the first two releases were made: Sea Isle 2000 (golf greens type) and Sea Isle 1 (fairway, tee, athletic field type). Also, in 1999 the first Georgia adapted tall fescue cultivar (Southeast) was released with availability of seed in 2001. This cultivar has exceptional drought resistance and persistence, while exhibiting very good shoot density and color.

The Cultural Management and Environmental/Traffic Stress program is focused on developing efficient programs that have minimal inputs and are environmentally sound. Some examples include documenting turfgrass water requirements in Georgia, developing and evaluating different irrigation scheduling technologies, evaluating traffic tolerance and cultivation programs, establishing new paspalum, centipedegrass, and tall fescue management programs.

In the area of Herbicides and Plant Growth Regulators, protocols for the judicious use of new herbicides are continuously being established for both fine turf and roadside grasses. Recently emphasis has been placed on determining the tolerance of newly-installed sod to herbicides, use of growth regulators in seashore paspalum, effect of applying herbicides at the time of seeding centipedegrass, Poa annua control in overseeded bermudagrass, and efficacy of herbicides as a spring transition aid in overseeded bermudagrass. Turfgrass Weed Management

The Disease and Insect management programs are involved in documenting economic pest thresholds with Integrated Pest Management programs, including biological control methods. These programs also study the basic biology of the respective organisms, and are attempting to improve genetic resistance to various pests. Landscape Pest Management

The Pesticide and Nutrient Fate assessment program has been in place since 1993, but has new personnel leading the program today. Three commonly used herbicides on the most leachable soil types (golf course greens) show no detectable chemicals exceeding Federal drinking water standards because of the tremendous absorptive and degradative capacity of a turfgrass environment. Herbicide and fertilizer runoff with high rainfall events are currently under study. A new nutrient fate program was begun in 1998 to evaluate nitrogen and phosphorus leaching and runoff from golf course greens and fairways.

The Teaching program has shown rapid growth over the past few years. Recently, the Board of Regents approved a new undergraduate turfgrass major. This major is unique because it is administered by both the Department of Horticulture and Crop and Soil Sciences. This shared responsibility affords the student greater access to faculty and teaching resources. The turfgrass program currently consists of six turf courses. In addition to two basic management courses, the program offers courses in turf diseases, weed and insect management in turf, turf and landscape irrigation, and environmental stresses of turfgrasses. Discover Turfgrass Management

The mission of the Cooperative Extension Service is to disseminate useful and practical information to the University's clientele. The primary means of delivery of this information is through the local Cooperative Extension Service office in every county in the state. This is done by an interdisciplinary team of seven scientists through various activities like writing the 30 publications listed elsewhere in this report. In an average year, this team writes 15 articles for national or regional industry publications and 25 articles for instate publications. They also speak at 88 meetings, drive more than 75,000 miles, and are involved in 35 field research demonstrations.




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