The Turf Research Florida Low Input Bahia/St. Augustine Program (TRF Low Input Program) is a collaboration between the University of Florida, the Turfgrass Producers of Florida (TPF) and Sod Solutions. The TRF Low Input Program’s main goal is to breed, select and release St. Augustine grasses and Bahiagrasses that require fewer inputs from farms and end-users and that will handle Florida-specific environmental challenges like Lethal Virus Necrosis (LVN), drought, disease, insects, etc.
The release of future improved grasses from the University of Florida Turfgrass Science Program in Florida and worldwide will be done through Sod Solutions, which will be the licensing and marketing agent for any new grasses resulting from the program. The program is still in its early stages with UF Turfgrass Breeder, Dr. Kevin Kenworthy, evaluating some existing selections of St. Augustinegrass and bahiagrass that have shown good potential. The main focus is to find bahiagrasses that will use less water, look green under drought stress and use less fertilizer to stay green. Other important characteristics are high seed production yields for lines that can be used as seed producers or reduced seed head production for lines to be selected for high aesthetic appearance.
Between 2021 and 2022, each TPF member was solicited to also become a contributing member of the TRF Low Input Program. Sod Solutions and the TPF also worked together to identify and solicit non-TPF members who were key players in bahiagrass production to join both programs. This includes those farms that grow bahia for cattle grazing and/or turf production as well as those entities involved in harvesting and reselling. For a sod farm to be eligible to license for grasses released under the TRF Low Input program, it must maintain membership in the TPF and be a contributing member of the TRF Low Input program.