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Georgia turfgrass takes root worldwide.

If you recently walked on a golf course, athletic field or new
landscape anywhere in the world, chances are you stepped on a Tif
variety of turfgrass developed at the University of Georgia.

"Many of the people I meet have heard of Georgia because 80 percent of
the surfaces planted in improved warm-season turfgrasses are planted
in Tif varieties," said Wayne Hanna, a researcher with the UGA College
of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences who has bred turfgrass for
38 years.

Tif grasses are popular because they "look good everywhere theyíre
planted," he said.

But it takes time to get it right, he said, as long as 15 years in
some cases. For example, most varieties look good two years into being
grown on research plots. By the third year, however, only 10 percent
of plots look good.

"We take our time to make sure the varieties we release are just
right," he said. "Thatís why turf breeding is such a long process."

Hanna breeds Tif varieties on the UGA campus in Tifton. The top
varieties are Tifdwarf, TifEagle, TifBlair, Tifway, TifSport and ST-5.

Tifdwarf and TifEagle are Bermuda grasses used for golf course putting
greens. TifBlair is a vigorous, cold-tolerant centipede grass. Tifway,
TifSport and ST-5 are Bermuda grass hybrids for lawns, sports fields,
golf courses and landscapes. The yet unnamed ST-5 can grow in shade.
The dark green grass was selected from 27,000 hybrids and will be
available to the public in 2010, he said.

"Bermuda grass loves sunlight," he said. "So the fact that this
variety will grow in 70 percent shade is incredible. And itís sterile,
so it doesnít produce seed or pollen."

Georgia-bred turfgrasses are all certified, he said.

"This means that a grass like TifBlair centipede has a pedigree that
you can follow," he said. "You can buy it now or five years from now,
and youíll be getting the same grass, guaranteed."

To install new turfgrass this year, wait till late April or early May,
said Clint Waltz, a UGA turfgrass specialist. Late spring is more
suitable for establishing warm-season grasses.

"Sod may be available, but itís too early now," he said. "Weíre having
some really pretty days, and everyone wants to get out and work in the
yard, but itís not the optimal time to plant warm-season turfgrasses."

For more advice on UGA turfgrass varieties, visit www.georgiaturf.com
or call your local UGA Extension agent at 800-ASK-UGA1.

Thanks to Sharon Dowdy, UGA CAES News Editor.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at
770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.

--
Dr. Teri Hamlin
North Region Agriculture Education
Georgia Department of Education
204C Four Towers University of Georgia
Athens, Ga 30602
706-542-3679 / 706-540-0032
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