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Washington State University to hold field day for new turfgrass research farm

June 8, 2022
Photo: Washington State University

Photo: Washington State University

Washington State University (WSU) is hosting a field day for its new Perennial Grass Breeding and Ecology Farm on June 9 from 9 a.m. to noon. The event is open to the public.

The new farm gives scientists a place to breed and study improved varieties of Kentucky bluegrass and other promising grasses in service to seed producers in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.

“About 90 percent of the bluegrass seed used in the world is grown in the Inland Northwest,” Michael Neff, a professor with WSU’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, said. “With our cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, we have an ideal climate for high-quality seed production.”

The WSU breeding program prioritizes seed germination and yield. After that, Neff seeks desirable qualities such as a great appearance, low maintenance and water needs and tolerance for drought, acidic, or salty soils. Kentucky bluegrass needs a significant spate of cold winter weather to properly flower, so an exciting development for Neff’s program is bluegrass that can flower in milder conditions.

During the tour, Professor Ian Burke will discuss weed management in turfgrass for seed production, while Kate Kraszewski, a stormwater ecologist in WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, will show research plots testing hardworking grasses that could replace pavement in urban landscapes.

Kraszewski has tested different grass blends at the farm to see which are the most resilient.

Washington Turfgrass Seed Commission, which funds grass breeding and research at WSU, is funding the field day.

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