This project started two years ago in January 2020 and the goal was two-fold: 1) Test and evaluate the adaptability of new grasses in São Paulo State, and 2) create a display with grasses from different species to show to students, landscapers and sod producers.
Sprigs of four commercial grasses and four experimental grasses at that time were brought from the US to Brazil and used to plant plug trays. The planting involved graduate students and the leading researcher at FCA Botucatu which is a campus dedicated to Agronomy and Agro Sciences belonging to Sao Paulo State University. The commercial grasses planted were: CitraBlue® St. Augustinegrass, Innovation® Zoysiagrass, Sunday® Ultra-Dwarf and Latitude 36® Bermudagrass while the experimental lines were: MSB-1026, MSB-10150, FZ-1662 and FZ-1367. The MSB lines are part of the Celebration X breeding program. The FZ lines are part of the University of Florida ultrafine breeding program.
Sprigs of each grass were planted in 72 cell trays on January 7, 2020. After planting the sprigs, the trays were kept in a greenhouse with a good supply of water and fertilizer to grow and mature. After three months, the plugs were planted on a prepared area for testing. The area had its top surface removed with fraise mowing equipment so that no contaminants were left in the soil profile that was going to be planted with the new grasses. Each grass was planted on a plot area measuring 200 square feet to facilitate visualization of the main characteristics of each grass such as leaf texture, genetic color and overall quality. All plots grew in well and were fully grown in by January 2021.
All plots are being maintained with proper irrigation, mowing and fertilizer. After being mature for over one year, preliminary results show that CitraBlue is displaying the darkest green color among all plots while Latitude 36 was the fastest to cover 100% of the ground. The ultrafine zoysia lines FZ-1662 and 1367 had problems with weed competition because they are slow growing varieties compared to the others tested there. However, after the initial period of establishment and with special attention from the local maintenance team, they grew in well and are looking good.
The plots were showcased during the VIII SIGRA, a grass conference held in Brazil in October 2022. This was a great opportunity to show students, landscapers and architects the differences between a zoysia, a bermuda, a St. Augustine and ultra-fine zoysias.
Innovation® Zoysiagrass with its finer texture compared to the local zoysia standard, caught the attention of several Brazilian producers. Zoysias make up 80% of the Brazilian market and Innovation, with its great shade tolerance, is positioning itself to be a great option for that market. Latitude 36 also received a lot of attention from sports field managers and golf course owners.