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New warm-season turfgrasses for high-quality greens

For more than 30 years, Tifgreen and Tifdwarf were the only greens-quality turfgrass varieties available. Now, the choice for golf courses and bowls clubs in northern Australia is being expanded by six new Cynodon hybrid and seashore paspalum cultivars.

The new cultivars differ from Tifgreen and Tifdwarf in their response to mowing, fertilising and other factors. They have a finer, denser and lower growing habit than previous greens varieties, allowing very low mowing heights to be imposed. This can result in denser, smoother and faster putting and bowls surfaces under optimum management, but they can also require more intensive dethatching.

Researchers are working on a project to identify the best management practices for high-quality playing surfaces and the geographic adaptation of these new grasses.


Full titleManagement guidelines for new warm-season greens grasses in Australia
DatesStart date: March 2006
End date: December 2009
Project leaderMatt Roche, (07) 3286 1488
  • to develop protocols for six Cynodon dactylon x C. transvaalensis (Cynodon hybrid) and three Paspalum vaginatum (seashore paspalum) cultivars
  • to determine optimum management inputs (particularly mowing height and frequency, fertiliser, and thatch control)
  • to identify the appropriate choice of cultivar for different environments and budgets
  • to develop best management practices for the new cultivars.
BenefitsThe project will lead to high-quality sports playing surfaces featuring new turfgrasses.
MethodologyA turf research greens test facility has been constructed at Redlands Research Facility at Cleveland.

The cultivars being trialled include:

Cynodon dactylon x C. transvaalensis hybrids

  • Tifgreen
  • Tifdwarf
  • TifEagleA
  • MS-SupremeA
  • Novotek™ (TL2)
  • Mini Verde™ (P18)

Seashore paspalum

  • Sea Isle 2000A
  • Velvetene™ (TFWA02)
  • Sea Isle-Supreme™

Planting of the test facility was completed in early 2006. The replicated trial of nine cultivars was planted using rooted nodal cuttings at a spacing of 150 mm. The new facility is the central trial site for a greater regional trial. The site will be used for a detailed study of management variables, such as nitrogen rates, cutting height and grooming. This information will then be referenced to the performance of the cultivars in several regional greens, maintained and observed by experienced superintendents/greenkeepers.

This coordinated approach will speed objective assessment of the new cultivars and greatly improve the understanding of their characteristics and management requirements. The new system will accelerate the process of commercialisation. Formerly, individual courses/clubs grew the new varieties under ‘typical’ management regimes, with limited data collection or sharing.

AchievementsIntroduction of the newer Cynodon hybrids (‘ultradwarfs’) and greens quality seashore paspalums will be dependent on largely one component; thatch accumulation and successful management being undertaken from a very early stage in the grow-in of the greens. Frequent light dusting or topdressing is recommended every seven to fourteen days with material fine enough to filter through the turf canopy. Some ‘ultradwarf’ cultivars may require higher levels of sand and paspalums more so than the Cynodon hybrids. Groomers should be utilized where possible during the growing season (e.g. weekly) to continuously reduce thatch accumulation and prevent ‘porpoising’ seen in the seashore paspalums. Such practices will assist in thatch reduction and result in denser, smoother and faster putting and bowls surfaces. Prevention is the key to ensuring long term success.

The observations and recommendations on the Cynodon hybrids (or couchgrass) and the seashore paspalums have been compiled from the eight trial sites (seven regional trial sites and the department’s centralised testing facility) following routine assessments undertaken throughout the duration of the warm-season grasses trial (TU05001). The information reflects the site specific observations and do not necessarily reflect the performance of each species and cultivar at different sites around Australia. The information provides an overview of the field performance of the grasses under typical golf course maintenance conditions; however, the data suggests that there can be variation depending on the site and climatic conditions. Such evidence highlights the need to undertake genotype by environment (G x E) studies on new and old cultivars.

Cynodon hybrids – performance characteristics as greens grass.

Seashore paspalums – performance characteristics as greens grass.

These observations should be used as a means of selecting potential cultivars for on-site evaluation.

Project staff
  • Matt Roche, Research Scientist
  • Jon Penberthy, Experimentalist


FundingHorticulture Australia Limited
Collaborating agencies
  • Bowls Queensland
  • Queensland Golf Union
  • Victorian Golf Association
  • South Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association
  • Golf Course Superintendents Association of Queensland
  • Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association
Research locationsRedlands Research Facility, Cleveland; Glenelg Golf Club, Novar Gardens; Chisholm TAFE, Mornington Peninsula; Bermagui Golf Club, Bermagui; Coolangatta Tweed Golf Club, Tweed Heads South; Indooroopilly Golf Club, Indooroopilly; Horton Park Golf Club, Maroochydore; Twin Waters Golf Club, Twin Waters

Further information


Roche M, et al 2010, Management guidelines for New Warm-Season Grasses in Australia, HAL Project TU05001, Horticulture Australia Limited, Sydney, pp.167. Full report available from AGCSA technical research under Queensland Government, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.

Regular newsletters and trial updates have been produced since 2006. They can be accessed from AGCSA technical research under Queensland Government, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.

Roche M, 2010, Warm-season greens grass trial – Environmental and management guidelines suited for new and old cultivars, Proceedings 26th Australian Turfgrass Conference, Gold Coast, 24 June, pp: 87-97.

Roche M, 2010, ‘Warm-season greens grass trial – Environmental and management guidelines suited for new and old cultivars‘, 26th Australian Turfgrass Conference, Gold Coast, 24 June, webcast.

*A indicates varieties that are protected under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994 (PBR). Unauthorised sale or propagation of these varieties is an infringement under the Act. See IP Australia for detailed information and legislation on Plant Breeder’s Rights.



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