Turfgrass Science Team posters from the 2018 ASA & CSSA Annual Meeting

The Turfgrass Science team at the University of Minnesota was well-represented at this year’s ASA and CSSA Annual Meeting held on November 4-7, 2018 in Baltimore, MD. Read on for a summary of the wide variety of topics covered by our researchers and be sure to check out the links with the full poster content.

A novel inoculation technique for integrating the endophyte Epichloe festucae into perennial ryegrass

By Garett Heineck, Brooke Ashbrenner, Michael Miller and Eric Watkins

The fungal endophyte Epichloe festucae var. Lolii is commonly associated with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Some endophytes have been shown to reduce disease severity and often produce toxic alkaloids that can be harmful to mammals and invertebrates. There is interest in incorporating novel endophytes into elite genotypic selections to improve cultivar disease resistance, reduce animal herbivory or replace an existing strain negatively impacting forage quality. The objective of this study was to test a novel inoculation technique that built upon previous methods, included different dark incubation periods and multiple endophyte strains. Poster (PDF file) here. 

The effect of fine fescue species and seeding rate in no-mow areas

By Andrew Hollman, Eric Watkins and Garett Heineck

In northern states, fine fescues species are often used for low-input areas and are recommended for “No-Mow” situations. The correct seeding rate and species to use could vary depending on the users desired aesthetics, maintenance requirements, and site use. The objectives of this study were to evaluate five commonly-used fine fescue species for their suitability to be maintained with minimal mowing and to determine a seeding rate based on Pure Live Seeds (PLS) for a given area to maintain adequate quality without excessive biomass. Poster (PDF file) here.

Drought tolerance of consumer turfgrass seed mixtures and blends

By Florence Sessoms, Dan Sandor, Brian Horgan and Samuel Bauer

Increased use of water for irrigation has become a concern in the Twin Cities especially during seasonal drought when demand for fresh water is highest. Homeowners could improve water conservation by choosing the right type of turfgrass species to meet their expectations. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the drought tolerance characteristics of consumer-available turfgrass seed mixtures and blends and to examine the effect of mowing height on drought tolerance and recovery from drought. Poster (PDF file) here.

Evaluating variation in shade tolerance among fine fescue species

By Dominic P. Petrella and Eric Watkins

Tolerance to shade is a desired trait for cool-season turfgrasses, but improvement in shade tolerance has been challenging. Selection for shade tolerance in the field can be difficult due to large amounts of variation in shade intensity and the duration. The fine fescue (Festuca ssp.) turfgrasses are shade tolerant turfgrasses; however, there has been little investigation into the variability for shade tolerance within and among this turfgrass group. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of a greenhouse-based approach for selecting of improved shade tolerance among the fine fescues. Poster (PDF file) here.

Golf course superintendents’ knowledge of variability within fairways

By Chase Straw and Brian Horgan

Precision turfgrass management (PTM) relies heavily on mapping technologies (e.g. drones, GPS-equipped sensor devices) for identifying variability within turfgrass systems to implement variable rate or site-specific applications that can reduce management inputs. Despite recent advancements of mapping technologies in turfgrass, a number of factors have inhibited widespread adoption amongst managers; for example, cost and training associated with obtaining, analyzing, and interpreting spatial data. The objectives of this study were to gain understanding of golf course superintendent’s perceptions and knowledge of soil moisture and turfgrass quality variability within their fairways and identify golf course superintendent’s perceived value and possible use of soil moisture and turfgrass quality interpolated maps. Poster (PDF file) here.

Performance of turfgrass cultivars in multiple northern U.S. roadside environments

By Eric Watkins, Jon M. Trappe, Mark J. Renz, James A. Murphy, Bradley S. Park and Kevin W. Frank

Survival of turf along roadsides is a challenge in many states in the central and northern U.S. due to stresses that include high levels of salt from deicing operations, drought stress from a lack of irrigation, and temperature extremes. State departments of transportation recommend mixtures for various roadside environments; however, many of these mixture recommendations are either outdated or are developed without supporting research data collected by an unbiased source. The objective of this study was to assess potential roadside turfgrasses across multiple states in the northern U.S. to generate unbiased data for use by public agencies. Poster (PDF file) here.

Determining optimal nitrogen fertility rates for reduced-input fine fescue putting greens

By Dominic P. Petrella, Sam Bauer, Brian Horgan and Eric Watkins

The use of nitrogen fertilizers on golf courses is scrutinized worldwide. Identifying alternatives to creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) for putting greens may help decrease nitrogen use while maintaining turfgrass quality.  Fine fescues, known for lower nitrogen requirements and reduced input management, are used for putting greens in northern Europe, Ireland, the UK, and other European countries, but have received limited attention in the U.S. The objective of this study was to determine the optimum annual nitrogen fertilizer rate for maintaining a reduced input fine fescue putting green in Minnesota. Poster (PDF file) here.

Using R based image analysis to quantify rust on perennial ryegrass

By Garett Heineck, Eric Watkins, Jacob Jungers and Ian McNish

Crown and stem rust caused by Puccinia coronata f. sp. lolii and Puccinia graminis subsp. graminicola are major diseases of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) when grown for turfgrass, forage, and seed. Plant breeders and pathologists often quantify rust severity in the field using the modified Cobb scale, but this method is subjective, labor intensive, and dependent on the skill and experience of the scorer. Our objective was to develop a novel, open-source system that couples both ImageJ and R to quantify rust severity on simple RGB images. Poster (PDF file) here.