Turf Research North Carolina is a collaborative effort between Sod Solutions, the North Carolina Sod Producers Association (NCSPA) and the North Carolina State Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics program with a goal of developing new, improved turfgrass varieties to be used throughout North Carolina and, more broadly, around the world.
In the summer of 2022, the first St. Augustine grass will be released from the program, currently designated XSA 11377. This variety is an experimental St. Augustinegrass bred for its cold tolerance. Following in the footsteps of long-standing, cold-tolerant cultivar Raleigh St. Augustine from NC State, XSA 11377 adds a number of improvements. It has been under evaluation since 2012 and was selected because of its aggressiveness, drought tolerance and superior sod strength in combination with turf quality. Additionally, while the line is comparable to Raleigh in terms of winterkill, it possesses a better pest tolerance package.
Led by turfgrass breeder Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis, NC State’s breeding program looks to improve the sustainability and economic gain of the overall turfgrass industry in the state through the development of cultivars that require reduced inputs and that are capable of tolerating biotic and environmental stresses while still maintaining good quality and overall performance. Additionally, the program is focusing on generating genomic information and utilizing it to relate phenotypic traits to DNA nucleotide polymorphism. Current research activities include, but are not limited to:
– Breeding for cold tolerance in warm-season grasses
– Breeding for heat and drought tolerance in tall fescue
– Breeding for disease resistance
– Utilization of exotic germplasm
– Mutation breeding
– Application of molecular markers to turfgrass improvement
– QTL mapping
– Molecular taxonomy
Expect other future releases from the TRNC program.