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New Salt and Heat Tolerant Turf

"You can irrigate saltgrass with salt water," said Tony Koski, professor and Extension turf grass specialist at Colorado State University. Saltgrass is, in fact, a halophytic species-a plant that "loves salt." Such a suite of characteristics make it attractive in a drought prone region.

The United States Golf Association is funding some of the basic research on saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) through the joint efforts of scientists at CSU and the University of Arizona. Saltgrass is an Arizona native that-if it can be made into a successful cultivated species (cultivar)-could go a long way in stretching fresh-water supplies sorely needed as drinking water.

Some of its assets-such as an aggressive root system-can make its use as a turf grass difficult. The grass must be grown on layers of plastic to keep the root system shallow enough to transplant, but so far the roots want to poke straight through and head for water. Currently, specialists are putting in a lawn in a CSU dormitory complex from plugs-a technique that is used for planting Colorado’s drought-tolerant buffalograss. Buffalograss roots can grow 5 or 6 feet deep in contrast to bluegrass that has a root depth of 10 to 18 inches.

In addition, Scotts will be promoting a hybrid bluegrass this year that is a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass and Texas bluegrass developed by Texas A&M University. Its heat tolerance and drought resistance also make it a good choice for some applications in Colorado.


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May 19, 2019, 8:22 am PDT

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