Turfgrass Diffusion of Innovation
Turfgrass breeding efforts at UGA are focused on the development of stress tolerant grasses that will be more sustainable than older varieties. Recent evaluations using rain-out and shade structures, non-irrigated plots, and reduced fertilizer input have been prioritized. Pesticide applications, including insecticides and fungicides, have been eliminated from routine maintenance programs to aid in the identification of varieties with natural resistances or tolerances. Currently, the program encompasses bermudagrass, centipedegrass and zoysiagrass breeding material from the seedling stage to advanced experimental hybrids that have persisted through rigorous testing for over a decade. Over 81 laboratories, greenhouse, and field evaluations are underway to maintain the pipeline that has provided leading turfgrass cultivars for over a half century. Collaboration with other institutions has been important during the past few years and has included work with Purdue University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Arizona to test advanced turfgrasses for stresses not found in Tifton. In 2015, the turfgrass breeding programs at UGA were awarded a four-year $4.4 million grant to evaluate hybrids UGA developed for persistence, survival, and recovery under limited irrigation and long-term drought in a partnership with the University of Florida, Texas A&M University, Oklahoma State University, and North Carolina State University.