Grass Species And Varieties For Severe Winter Climates (P4)

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Ranking species for golf greens

In the following table the grass species used on golf greens have been ranked on a scale from 1-9 depending on their ability to survive a Nordic winter.

Please note that our test plots are not sprayed with fungicides. This means that the genetic resistance to pink snow mould (Microdochium nivale), grey snow mould (Typhula incarnata) and more rare winter diseases are a part of the ranking.

Ranking species for golf greens

Winter hardiness of grass species under golf green conditions in the Nordic climate.

The length of the coloured band shows the variation between varieties (or ecotypes for the annual meadow grass) . The dark red area indicate the score of the most popular varieties.

1. Velvet bent grass (Agrostis canina)

Several research projects have confirmed that velvet bent is one of the most winter stress tolerant grass species for golf greens. It may be somewhat susceptible to M.nivale and other diseases during the growing season, but it usually resist snow moulds, especially Typhula sp., better that creeping bent grass when acclimated. In field tests it has survived 119 days under solid ice. There are just a few varieties on the market and the difference in winter hardiness is not significant except that ‘Avalon’ should be avoided in extreme winter climates.

2. Chewings red fescue (Festuca rubra ssp commutata)

This sub species of red fescue is ranked better than creeping bent grass for overall winter survival. This is mainly because it is less affected by snow moulds. Its freezing tolerance is, however, less than creeping bentgrass ,and there is also some uncertainty related to its tolerance to ice
encasement. In unstable winter climates with high risk of ice build-up we would therefore rank creeping bent grass higher. Icelandic trials (65˚N) are an exception where red fescue always has performed better than creeping bent grass, but this could also be related to the low summer temperatures and the dark winters with unstable snow cover and temperature fluctuations. On greens with good surface runoff chewings red fescue can be recommended as very winter stress tolerant. Be aware that some varieties, like ‘Bellaire’ or ‘Calliope’, do not achieve high scores for winter hardiness.

3. Prostrate meadow grass (Poa supina)

This species has been tested only for a few years, but it has been ranked among the most winter hardy species, especially on Iceland and in continental parts of Central and Northern Scandinavia. A light green colour and rather coarse sward are among the special characters of this species.

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