Dr. Milt Engelke, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, will receive the Turfgrass Breeders Association’s Breeders Cup Award during the Agronomy Society of America meeting in San Antonio November 13.

Dr. Milt Engleke
Professor Emeritus Milt Engelke, Ph.D.

Engelke earned the honor for his work on Diamond zoysiagrass, released in 1996 under U.S. plant patent 10,636.

“We are very fortunate to have leaders and visionaries like Dr. Engelke in the turfgrass industry who have laid a strong foundation for a strong future,” said Dr. Ambika Chandra, Texas A&M AgriLife Research turfgrass breeder and successor to Dr. Engleke. “The Breeder’s Cup award is deserving recognition to Dr. Engelke’s contributions and the impact of Diamond cultivar in the turfgrass industry”.

Bred under the experimental name DALZ8502, Diamond was the finest textured zoysiagrass at the time of its release with the potential to provide a viable alternative to golf courses struggling to keep creeping bentgrass alive during the heat of the summer or to golf courses with heavy shade issues where bermudagrasses were failing, his nomination states.

Engelke served as the turfgrass breeder at the Texas A&M AgriLife Center in Dallas from 1980 through 2007. During that time, he developed and released 16 cultivars of three turfgrass species, seven of which were zoysiagrass cultivars. According to nominators, some of those cultivars set industry standards, including Diamond.

“One of his major contributions to the turfgrass industry has been the zoysiagrass germplasm collection trip to the Pacific Rim he made with Mr. Jack Murray in 1982,” Chandra said. “They covered tremendous grounds in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines, and brought back over 750 unique accessions of zoysiagrass representing eight of the eleven zoysiagrass species.”

TBA awards the Breeder’s Cup to the turfgrass breeder and cultivar that best exemplify originality in development. Through this award they hope to encourage breeders to think and act outside the box to advance turfgrasses.