The bright minds within the turfgrass and plant breeding departments within Oklahoma State University’s Plant and Soil Sciences Department have propagated a new turfgrass variety so versatile it has even been garnering attention from the NFL.
The variety, Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass, is a hybrid bermudagrass that offers extreme fine texture, high density, increased winter tolerance, tolerance to very close mowing and improved water use efficiency, according to Dennis Martin, OSU professor and turfgrass Extension research specialist.
“Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass is targeted for sites where low mowing heights and high quality performance is desired,” Martin said. “It is adapted to mowing heights between 0.38 to 1.5 inches.”
Yanqui Wu, OSU professor of grass breeding and genetics, explained Tahoma 31 as an interspecific F1 hybrid derived from a cross between a common bermudagrass and an African bermudagrass.
Wu said it can be used where high quality turf is demanded and good management will be practiced on sites that include sports fields, golf courses, commercial properties and high quality residential lawns. Tahoma 31 can produce nice residential lawns if appropriate management is applied.
“The grass has substantial improvements in cold hardiness, early spring green up, drought resistance and traffic tolerance,” Wu said. “This grass combines high turf quality and wide adaptation.”
The drought resistance is one of Tahoma 31’s biggest selling points.
“Under high water application rates such as high-traffic sports fields where maximum growth is needed to recover from extreme amounts of sports play wear and tear, this new grass has improved water use efficiency and uses less water to produce this growth than many other bermudagrasses,” Martin said. “It also works well under conditions of lower water input where rapid growth is not needed nor desired, such as in a lawn scenario. While water applications are still needed to keep the turf green during a drought, the Tahoma 31 Bermudagrass requires less water to stay green than non-improved turf bermudagrasses.”
Wu says Tahoma 31 exhibited top-notch turfgrass quality, improved cold hardiness and traffic tolerance in the most recent National Turfgrass Evaluation Program, making it a hot commodity for sports facilities in associations like the NFL. Martin says the University of Arkansas’s stadium is currently moving to Tahoma 31 from artificial turf. Additionally, The University of Tulsa’s soccer field was converted to Tahoma 31 late this spring. He said part of the National Mall in Washington D.C. was recently sprigged with Tahoma 31.
Wu says the OSU turfgrass breeding program started in the 1980s. Over 30 years, the program has released six varieties. With the success of Tahoma 31, it seems clear OSU’s future in turf grass variety development is showing rapid growth with green pastures in the horizon.
“We do have more promising experimental strains in our breeding and developing pipeline,” Wu said. “We expect to roll out a new variety every several years.”
Lacey Newlin can be reached at email@example.com.