New St. Augustine grass hybrid uses less water, offers other advantages

Dr. Ambika Chandra, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research associate professor of turfgrass breeding and genetics at the Dallas center, has led efforts to develop a new St. Augustine hybrid with several superior characteristics considered ‘desirable’ for both commercial and residential consumers. Credit: Paul Schattenberg

Published April 3, 2014

Dwindling water resources caused by drought, extreme temperatures and other environmental factors have made the development of more water-efficient turfgrasses increasingly important for southern landscapes, according to experts at Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

According to national water-use statistics, about one-third of all the water consumed by cities in the southern U.S. is used to irrigate lawns and gardens.

Recently Dr. Ambika Chandra, associate professor of turfgrass breeding and genetics at the center, released a new drought-tolerant St. Augustine grass variety that also resists the major disease and insect pests that commonly attack lawns in the southern U.S.

"This new variety is the first hybrid of St. Augustine grass produced by our advanced breeding techniques to be released for the commercial turfgrass industry," Chandra said.

At the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas, home of the AgriLife turfgrass breeding program, scientists are continually developing and testing new turfgrass lines that require less water and have increased drought, disease, insect, shade and cold tolerance—characteristics preferred by homeowners and landscape professionals alike.

Over the years, the program has generated thousands of new St. Augustine grass lines, as well as other turfgrass lines, Chandra said. These lines are evaluated at different locations over a period of years to identify the few that have superior characteristics.

She said the new variety, currently identified by its experimental name, DALSA 0605, has shade tolerance and deep roots comparable to Floratram, a successful St. Augustine grass collaboratively developed by Texas A&M University and the University of Florida.

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