A heat and drought tolerant bluegrass
Texas Blue is the newest advance that combines extensive rhizomes along with heat and drought tolerance. Its’ drought and heat resistance, along with lower water and nitrogen inputs, make it a good choice for lower water use areas. In addition, its’ shade tolerance is better than traditional Kentucky bluegrass. Texas Blue produces a dense, dark green ground cover throughout the summer, recovers quickly from drought and is resistant to brown patch with its’ aggressive rhizomes.
Texas Bluegrass Hybrids for the Rocky Mountain Region
In the 1990s, Dr. James Read of Texas A&M University successfully crossed Kentucky bluegrass and Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera, a bluegrass species native to the Panhandle of Texas). He named the first commercially available variety ‘Reveille’. Other seed companies, as well as university breeders, have since created similar hybrids. The Scotts Company has released hybrid bluegrasses under the names ‘Thermal Blue’, ‘Thermal Blue Blaze’, ‘Solar Green’ and ‘Dura Blue’. Another commercially available hybrid (from the Turf Seed Company) is sold under the name ‘Longhorn’. Releases from other turf seed companies will occur in the near future.
Reduced water requirements
Recovers well from wear
Dense and durable
Heat tolerant and salt tolerant
Excellent Heat Tolerance: This grass, in fact, seems to grow better the warmer it gets in the summer. Regular Kentucky bluegrass will generally decline under high heat (upper 80s-90s), which can reduce its’ traffic and wear tolerance during the hottest times of the growing season. The Texas hybrid appears to maintain more active summer growth, which translates into better traffic tolerance and ability to recover from traffic injury.
Deep and Extensive Root Production: These hybrids produce an extensive root system, which enhances heat and drought resistance. A dense root system will also improve traffic tolerance, ability to recover from wear, and will improve footing (traction) in a sports turf application.
Extensive and Aggressive Rhizome Formation: These grasses form large extensive and aggressive rhizomes (underground stems). Different from roots, rhizomes contain growing points that produce new grass plants. Grasses that produce rhizomes are better able to tolerate traffic and will recover more quickly from traffic-induced wear – often without the need to reseed the worn areas. An aggressive rhizome system also means better traction in a sports turf situation.
Low Mowing Height Tolerance: Its’ excellent heat tolerance and aggressive root and rhizome formation characteristics allow this grass, when necessary, to be mowed at lower heights than many Kentucky bluegrasses – especially during the heat of summer. This can be important for “showcase” sports turf applications and golf course use.
Potential to Require Less Irrigation: There is a good amount of anectodotal field evidence to suggest that these hybrid bluegrasses require less supplemental irrigation than some Kentucky bluegrasses.
Less Severe Sod Transplant Shock: Field observations suggest that the sod of these hybrids may be less susceptible to the transplant shcok that other turf species exhibit following the planting of sod–especially if watering is not begun soon after sod planting.