SportsTurf

December 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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www.spor tsturfonline.com 13 December 2017 // Steve Reid Are you always actively breeding some species of turfgrass? Yes, I am the Research Director USA for DLF. I breed turf tall fescue and bermudagrass and have recently taken over the perennial ryegrass again. From 2013 to 2016, a colleague of mine was responsible for the breeding of perennial ryegrass for the company. Another colleague is responsible for bentgrass and fi neleaf fescue. We have stopped breeding Kentucky bluegrass in the US and will source our material from Rutgers University and our European colleagues where appropriate. What characteristics are you currently working to improve, in what turfgrasses? In all species of turfgrass we are concentrating on two general types: sports turf and low input. As for sports turf, we concentrate on wear/traffi c tolerance, shade tolerance, and low mow height tolerance. In bermudagrass, we concentrate on aggressive stolon development (wear/traffi c tolerance) and cold tolerance. As for low input, we strive for adequate turf quality under drought (low water use), low fertility, no- fungicide, salt tolerance/reclaimed water. What's the hottest topic in turfgrass breeding now? I think it is low input sustainable turfgrass. Lower water and nitrogen use. In tall fescue, specifi cally, it is wear/traffi c tolerance and low mow height. I believe this species will see increased used in sports turf moving forward. Improved varieties are showing great characteristics that will make sports turf managers rethink the use of tall fescue. Explain how a new cultivar gets to market: breeder, tester, grower, marketer? Historically, we have developed turf varieties based on the NTEP testing cycle. In all turfgrass species we develop new population each years as part of our species improvement program. In the main species (tall fescue and perennial ryegrass) we would develop 14-18 new populations each year and release 10-12 populations every 6 years (NTEP cycle). We then enter approximately 16-18 populations into the NTEP and then provide seed of the better population to our production department, who intern provides the seed to a seed stock grower (farmer) to increase the amount of seed available for planting new fi elds. After 4-5 years of seed increase, limited seed is available to market through our distributers. What's the biggest change in turfgrass breeding over the past 5 years? Increased emphasis on trait specific breeding, which increased the specifi c trails that the end users' desires. By increasing the emphasis on a limited number of traits, we are able to increase the performance of the specific trait without losing other desirable traits such as color, density, leaf texture. We have also placed increase emphasis on seed yield, without sacrifi cing desirable traits. Dr. Stacy Bonos Are you always actively breeding some species of turfgrass? Yes. We work on 11 different species of grass. We conduct a cycle of selection every year. What characteristics are you currently working to improve, in what turfgrasses? Historically the characteristics were low growth, high shoot density, dark green color. We have pretty well accomplished that in the last 50 years of breeding these grasses. We are always working on disease resistance (which is a huge part of our breeding program), stress tolerance (drought and heat) (this is our most current focus). Tall fescue is probably the most versatile grass we have for home lawns. It has relatively few pest problems and has good drought tolerance. We are trying to improve drought tolerance in this species by using a rainout shelter that we can keep the rainfall off of. We have tall fescues that can survive 75 days (in the summer) without water. We select these, intercross them and hope that the next generation carries those genes to the progeny. Disease resistance is also a big part of our breeding program. Each species has its own specifi c disease problems. For example, brown patch resistance in tall fescue, summer patch resistance in hard fescue, summer patch and rust resistance in Kentucky bluegrass, gray leaf spot, dollar spot and leaf spot in perennial ryegrasses, dollar spot resistance in creeping bentgrass. There are many other examples too. New Jersey is a good environment to select for disease resistance because of our climate. The hot and humid weather of the summer months is conducive to disease development on plants so diseases are easy to come by. Therefore we have the ability to screen our plant material very easily, sometimes without inoculation. This would be very different if we were in an arid environment. What's the hottest topic in turfgrass breeding now? I would say the hottest topic in breeding now is the drought tolerance work we are doing and also fi guring out how to utilize some of the new technology like infrared cameras, other remote sensing devices (NDVI, etc.) to help improve our selection ability for characteristics that are diffi cult to breed for. /ST/ Steve Reid, Chief Breeder & Research Director USA, DLF Pickseed. Dr. Stacy Bonos, professor, Department of Plant Biology, Rutgers University.

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