Recently Dr. Ambika Chandra, associate professor of turfgrass breeding and genetics at Texas A&M, released a new drought-tolerant St. Augustine grass variety that also resists the major disease and insect pests that commonly attack lawns in the southern US.
Texas A&M AgriLife Center releases new water-efficient, disease/pest resistant turfgrass
Dwindling water resources caused by drought, extreme temperatures and other environmental factors have made the development of more water-efficient turfgrasses increasingly important for southern landscapes, according to experts at Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Recently Dr. Ambika Chandra, associate professor of turfgrass breeding and genetics at the center, released a new drought-tolerant St. Augustine grass variety that also resists the major disease and insect pests that commonly attack lawns in the southern U.S.
“This new variety is the first hybrid of St. Augustine grass produced by our advanced breeding techniques to be released for the commercial turfgrass industry,” Chandra said.
At the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas, home of the AgriLife turfgrass breeding program, scientists are continually developing and testing new turfgrass lines that require less water and have increased drought, disease, insect, shade and cold tolerance — characteristics preferred by homeowners and landscape professionals alike.
Over the years, the program has generated thousands of new St. Augustine grass lines, as well as other turfgrass lines, Chandra said. These lines are evaluated at different locations over a period of years to identify the few that have superior characteristics.
She said the new variety, currently identified by its experimental name, DALSA 0605, has deep roots comparable to Floratram, a successful St. Augustine grass collaboratively developed by Texas A&M University and the University of Florida.
“So far, DALSA 0605 has shown excellent response to drought stress in the field. Much of this is due to its long roots that allow it to penetrate deeper into the soil to obtain moisture where other varieties cannot,” Chandra said. “It also does well during soil dry-down after exposure to extended periods without water, as well as in the recovery phase once water is reintroduced.”
Development of DALSA 0605 was partially funded by the Turfgrass Producers of Texas, with field testing of the new turfgrass initiated in 2004 at the Dallas center. She said DALSA 0605 has also shown wide-range adaptation through additional field testing in Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, as part of a collaborative project funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“DALSA 0605 will most likely be commercially available in 2015,” she said.
Those interested in learning more about licensing of this new turfgrass variety may contact Janie Hurley, senior licensing manager for Texas A&M University System, at JHurley@tamus.edu for more information.