Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s Cobalt St. Augustine ready for production

The latest turfgrass developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Research will be the most drought-resistant St. Augustine variety on the market, researchers said.

“It creates a healthy lawn with less frequent irrigation, saving increasingly important water resources,” said Ambika Chandra, Ph.D., AgriLife Research professor of turfgrass breeding and genetics, Dallas, in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.

The hybrid turfgrass, marketed under the trademark Cobalt, is suited for broad commercial and residential use. It is a darker green and tolerant to shade compared with other St. Augustine varieties.

Cobalt is the product of 20 years of research and development, Chandra said. Developed as DALSA 1618, the new variety has been licensed for production by Sod Solutions of South Carolina.

Cobalt was created using embryo-rescue technology to achieve drought and pest resistance from one parent plant, and deep color, cold tolerance and shade tolerance from the other.

The new turfgrass boasts a good establishment rate, and its wide stolons bear wide grass blades. Cobalt is winter hardy to USDA cold hardiness zone 8a and has withstood temperatures well below freezing.

“It consistently performs well at sites across the country,” said Tobey Wagner, Sod Solutions president. “The 2021 polar vortex, when the air temperature dropped as low as 1 degree Fahrenheit, was the ultimate real-life test for this grass. Cobalt survived and thrived.”

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