By David R. Herrera
The University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science program has been developing and testing fine fescue varieties for low-maintenance turfgrass use in the Midwestern United States. Because of the relative underuse of fine fescue turfgrass due to costly seed and limited availability, we are currently investigating fine fescue turfgrass species seed yield performance to determine how growers might begin producing this valuable commodity right here in Minnesota.
by Nicole Mihelich
Here at the University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science Program, one of our areas of research is developing low-input turfgrasses that can better suit the consumer and the environment with less need for water, fertilizer, mowing, and other inputs. Fine fescue turfgrass species have been shown to perform well under these low-input conditions. However, there is little to no availability of fine fescue sod despite high demand from consumers.
By Andrew Hollman
A nice-looking turf that doesn’t need to be mowed and takes very little maintenance is the dream of some homeowners and landscape managers. The sale of “No-Mow” seed mixtures has increased the interest of many people to establish or transition to lower maintenance turfgrass areas. The idea that these areas are “maintenance free” is a misnomer and without the proper grass selection and seeding rate, these areas can require a great deal of care. For that reason, research trials were established in August of 2015 and 2017 at the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus to examine the effect of species and seeding rate on turf maintained as a “No-Mow”.
by Yinjie Qiu
Fine fescues are often planted in mixtures, rather than as a single species, because the different species have complementary characteristics that work together to form a good quality turf stand. Yet when fine fescues are planted in mixtures, it is difficult to establish final community composition because the species are so similar morphologically. We are working on a technique to quickly determine fine fescue mixture species composition, which will benefit turfgrass researchers across the country.
By Eric Watkins
I often get asked what I’d recommend for a good fine fescue mixture for Minnesota. I usually recommend a mixture of the three fine fescue species that are most readily available: hard, Chewings, and strong creeping red. The tricky part is determining the final components of a fine fescue mixture that will result in a high-performing turf.
By Michael Laskowski
Have you ever wondered where all the salt goes after the snow and ice melts from the roadsides and sidewalks? It turns out, most of the salt runs into the storm drain, but some salt will end up along the roadsides and boulevards in green areas.
By Jon Trappe
Many plant enthusiasts have observed difficulty planting some plant species around black walnut trees. Black walnut trees naturally excrete chemicals into their environment to make themselves more competitive. This negative plant-on-plant interaction is known as allelopathy, and is more common in multiple plant species than was once previously thought.
There have been a few reports (Bertin et al., 2009; Bertin et al., 2003) of natural weed suppression in certain fine fescues (Festuca spp.).
By David R. Herrera
NASA scientist Cristina Milesi estimates that there is three times the amount of turfgrass in the United States as there are acres of irrigated corn . When we consider that the rate of grass seed density required for turf can be up to 6 lbs per 1000 sq.ft, one can imagine the enormous quantity of seed needed to plant all that turf! Most of that planted grass seed is, at least here in the Midwest, Kentucky bluegrass. However, there is a grass genus that has gained interest and may one day be used just as much or more as Kentucky bluegrass.
Fine fescue turfgrass species are excellent alternatives to provide functional turf areas while reducing inputs of water, fertilizer, mowing, and pesticides. Eric Watkins recently received a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to identify ways to facilitate adoption of these fine fescues on private and public landscapes.