A first-of-its-kind zoysia grass hybrid promises superior putting green performance and quality while requiring fewer inputs compared to other warm-season turfgrasses on the market, said Dr. Ambika Chandra, Texas A&M AgriLife Research turfgrass breeding program leader in Dallas.
The new variety, tested as DALZ 1308, produced average roll distances above 9 feet in industry standard roll-distance research trials. Golf courses now testing the new zoysia report averages of 12 feet — an ideal roll for tournament play by golf industry standards between 9 feet and 13 feet, Chandra said.
“This is a next generation, ultra-dwarf, super-fine textured, greens-type zoysia grass,” she said. “It’s genetically dark green with high shoot density, which produces a superior quality putting surface.”
Zoysias, compared to other warm-season turfgrasses, generally produce higher quality turf with fewer inputs like mowing, nutrients and chemicals due to their natural tolerance to disease, insects, shade and salinity stress, Chandra said. Their comparative low maintenance could help higher-quality putting greens become viable and sustainable for golf courses with limited budgets and human resources.
“The problem with putting green zoysias historically is that they’re known to roll too slow for tournament play,” she said. “DALZ 1308 solves that.”
The exclusive national license for production and sale of the variety is held by Bladerunner Farms of Poteet, which is working to establish fields of the new turf. The company will grant sub-licenses to select producers across the U.S.
“I believe that the use of zoysias for greens will prove to be the next big thing in golf and that 1308 will lead the way,” said Bladerunner Farms owner David Douget.
DALZ 1308 also represents a scientific breakthrough in its standing as the first hybrid developed specifically for putting greens by crossing two different turfgrass species, zoysia minima and zoysia matrella.
According to Chandra, the minima x matrella cross which resulted in Dalz1308 was originally made in 2003.
“That just goes to show that plant breeding is a long-term process,” she said.
Several hybrids were developed and three full-sibs were entered in the national turfgrass evaluation program (NTEP) in 2013 for nation-wide evaluation.
“In the NTEP, 1308 stood out in performance and quality,” Chandra said. “We are certainly excited about the release!”
Another unique factor in this cross is that the AgriLife Research turfgrass breeding program is one of the only programs in the country with access to minima germplasm.
Chandra will discuss the genetics, development, evaluation and performance of greens-type zoysia grasses at Bladerunner Farms on Feb. 6 – part of the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio.
“We believe we’re going to see an increased use in zoysias for putting greens across the country with the release of DALZ 1308,” she said.
Go to https://dallas.tamu.edu/research/turf/ and contact Chandra for more information on DALZ 1308. Contact Doguet by going to http://www.bladerunnerfarms.com for information on sub-licensing the variety.