UC Riverside is preparing to release two new varieties of Bermuda grass

UC Riverside is preparing to release two new varieties of Bermuda grass

Two new hybrid Bermuda grass cultivars ‘Presidio’ (formerly UCR 17-8) and ‘Coachella’ (formerly UCR TP6-3) will be released commercially in limited quantities over the next three years. These grasses are the result of more than nine years of testing by the Grass Breeding Program at UC Riverside. Work by Dr. Jim Baird and his team at the University of California, Riverside shows that these grasses offer major benefits over older cultivars such as ‘Tifway 419’, ‘Tifway II’ and ‘Santa Ana’. It also has some value-added attributes over more recently released cultivars such as ‘TifTuf’, ‘Tahoma 31’ and ‘Latitude 36’. Here are some insights from observing these new weeds at UC Riverside’s field day in September:

Traffic tolerance: The ‘Presidio’ appears to handle heavy golf cart traffic better than the ‘Santa Ana’ and ‘TifTuf’, but research is ongoing and this observation has not yet been confirmed with data.

Occurrence of mower scalping: There was no scalping on “TifTuf”, “Coachella” or “Presidio”, but all three versions of “Santa Ana” featured field day scalping. This is similar to field observations indicating the need for frequent mowing applications, vertical mowing, and plant growth regulation to avoid scalping of ‘Santa Ana’ during the summer months.

Spring green: In a recent study, “Coachella” and “Presidio” received ratings of 6.0 and 6.3 for spring greenness, respectively, compared to “Tifway II” at 5.2 and “Santa Ana” at 5.7 (based on a scale of 1 to 9 with 6 being Acceptable and “9 Best). It is important to note that the difference in these ratings was not statistically significant, but the trend is for an improved environment from “Coachella” and “Presidio”.

Seed head production: Trials have shown that both ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’ produce lower seed heads than many commercially available cultivars.

Drought tolerance: TifTuf has set a new standard for drought tolerance. Fortunately, “Coachella” and “Presidio” performed similarly.

color: ‘Coachella’ and ‘Presidio’ offer a dark green colour.

Regarding the upcoming commercial release, limited quantities of “Coachella” will be available in 2025, and a year later “Presidio” will be available. The university is still in talks about the licensing agreement. Stay tuned for more information on who will supply the new items.

When it comes to courses actually converting to improved varieties of bermudagrass, the first step is usually convincing leadership of the benefits and potential return on investment. The water savings compared to cool-season grasses are significant – typically a minimum of 30% in converted areas. The excellent traffic tolerance and improved winter color retention of bermuda grasses in climates where frost is uncommon are plus points in favor of switching from cool-season grasses. For courses with older Bermuda grass that was supervised in the fall, converting to one of these newer varieties may allow you to forego stewardship for better year-round playability and conserve resources.

Once your course is ready to make the change, the next step is to get rid of the existing Bermuda grass. For tips on this process, please see my article “Out with the Old, In with the New: Converting to Improved Bermuda Grass.”

Agricultural engineers in the Western region:

Brian Whitlark, Regional Director – bwhitlark@usga.org

Corey Isom, Agronomist – cisom@usga.org

Information about the USGA’s Course Consulting Service

Contact the Green Department staff

    (Marks for translation) Volume 61 

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