Blending Bluegrasses

Blending Texas bluegrass’ tolerance to heat and drought with the turf and forage qualities of Kentucky bluegrass is one of the goals of a new cooperative research and development agreement. The agreement will focus on wide-cross hybrids of bluegrasses.

The hybrids will be developed by the Agricultural Research Service’s Grazinglands Research Laboratory and Barenbrug USA. ARS wants the new hybrid grasses to be used as forage for livestock grazing and for land reclamation. Barenbrug USA seeks to provide its customers with better-adapted bluegrass varieties through turf- and forage-breeding projects emphasizing the transfer of drought- and heat-tolerant genes from Texas bluegrass to other Poa species, according to an ARS article by Luis Pons.

Texas bluegrass reproduces sexually, which makes it an exception among the Poa species. According to Pons, “other bluegrass types reproduce by apomixis, which limits their capacity for genetic change and the efficient breeding of agronomically useful Poa cultivars.”

The agreement is scheduled to last from three to five years. Trials will be performed at locations in Oklahoma, Virginia and Oregon.

For more information, visit the USDA Web site.

Source: Luis Pons

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