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.
So far one turfgrass has been released from the program. In 2021, Lobo™ Zoysia (XZ 14069) made its debut at the NC State field day in Raleigh. Lobo is a mid-fine textured zoysia variety that was sought and selected for its low maintenance capabilities. In addition to being a top performer in the 2018 NTEP low-input trial, Lobo displayed the ability to thrive with little to no inputs in roadside trials conducted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation in 2018 & 2019. Also, Lobo delivered the highest cumulative turf performance index among 30 entries in the 2018-2020 Low input trial by the USGA. Lobo will offer superior performance with reduced inputs from end-users; less mowing, fertilizing and watering.
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.