Eric Watkins- Developing Fine Fescues for Low Input Lawns


The Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation, along with the allied organizations, have been tremendous partners in the funding of turfgrass breeding research at the University of Minnesota. In past years, we have emphasized how the contributions from professional organizations such as MTGF lay the groundwork for larger grant opportunities. We have been very fortunate in recent years to received significant support from state and federal funding organizations. We recently received the excellent news that we, along with turfgrass scientists from Rutgers University and the University of Wisconsin, have been awarded a USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant in the amount $2,136,489. The project (Germplasm Improvement of Low-Input Fine Fescues in Response to Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors) will aim to develop high-quality fine fescue cultivars that meet the needs of both professional turfgrass managers and homeowners. Our recent research efforts have shown the great potential of these species and also the shortcomings that they have in certain environments. The team of turfgrass breeders associated with this project will work to overcome some of the most significant barriers such as lack of heat stress tolerance, inability to withstand high levels of wear and traffic, and susceptibility to snow molds disease. In addition, colleagues at the University of Minnesota will investigate consumer attitudes and preferences that drive turfgrass purchasing decisions. Finally, turfgrass extension educators will investigate new ways to inform consumers about the use of fine fescue species.

‘Information on specific varieties of the grasses in this presentation can be found at the U of MN turfgrass science website, or at the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program website’