The Celebration X breeding program is celebrating almost nine years since its inception in 2014. The first improved variety in the program, Celebration Hybrid™ Bermudagrass (MSB 1017), was officially released in 2022. Indeed, this variety is a true hybrid, meaning it has 27 chromosomes. Because Celebration Hybrid has an odd number of chromosomes, it cannot produce viable seed and therefore is considered to be a sterile variety.
Celebration Hybrid was generated from a cross of Celebration® Bermudagrass and an African bermudagrass (Cynodon transvaalensis) selection that incorporated a different set of characteristics into the traditional Celebration: finer texture, less seed heads, dark green color and better cold tolerance. Sod Solutions is proud and excited to introduce Celebration Hybrid to the market and its great performance and exceptional look is already leading golf courses and other potential clients to put pre-orders for when the grass becomes commercially available by late summer 2024.
Celebration Hybrid has been planted in several real-world test applications throughout the Southeast, including three golf courses in Florida: Country Club of Florida in Boyton Beach, Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples and On Top of the World GC in Ocala. Several sod farms have been trialing the grass ahead of its release. Star Farms in Sebring, FL planted Celebration Hybrid plugs in 10,000 Sq. Ft. plots in June 2021 before expanding by 3 acres in June 2022. Quality Turf in Avon Park, FL planted sprigs of Celebration Hybrid as a foundation block in May 2022 on a 3/4 acre. Superior Turf and Pike Creek Turf Farms, both located in Georgia; Billy Mayfield Farms and Murff Turf Farms in Texas and Inman Sod in North Carolina also have trial plots of Celebration Hybrid.
The Celebration X Program does not end with the release of Celebration Hybrid. Two additional experimental lines, Celebration Dwarf™ and Celebration Plus™ are expecting release in 2023.
Celebration Dwarf (MSB 1050) is a dark green variety with an excellent root system that has minimal vertical growth. The growth rate is attracting many golf courses to use it on tees, approaches and similar applications. Celebration Dwarf has a great blocking ability due to its strong root system. Preliminary data also indicates it has a good shade tolerance, compared to other bermudagrasses. This is most likely an inherited trait from the original Celebration Bermudagrass which has very good shade tolerance as well. Celebration Dwarf is being tested at golf greens height to evaluate its potential for greens use. It does have a small leaf blade and short internode, suggesting it might be a good option for golf greens, if ball speed tests are favorable.
Celebration Plus (MSB 1080) has a very aggressive growth pattern, showing it can quickly cover the ground and recover from damage like wear and divots. Celebration Plus also has a very deep and strong root system which will most likely deliver a very good drought tolerance. Further testing is required to determine the rate of seed head production.
A third variety being considered for release is MSB 1042, which has fine texture, a lighter green color and a very fast green-up in the spring. It is also a very fast growing variety with a more open canopy. Having less density and a more open canopy leads to less thatch accumulation. This means less verticutting and aerating requirements and less maintenance overall, making it a good candidate for residential use.
Celebration Hybrid, Celebration Dwarf and MSB 1042 are still performing well in the current National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) bermudagrass trials.