Warm-Season Turfgrass Breeding Program
The goal of the turfgrass breeding and genetics program at University of California, Riverside is to develop new and improved cultivars of warm-season species, focusing on bermudagrass and kikuyugrass, with better winter color retention and drought resistance. New lines of these grasses are tested in various environments in California and across the Southern United States. They are evaluated and selected under a wide range of conditions, including different climates, reduced or withheld irrigation, irrigation with saline water, and under reduced sunlight.
The program was re-established in 2012 and is supported by the United States Golf Association, California Turfgrass and Landscape Foundation, Western Municipal Water District, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Ten years of breeding efforts at UCR have resulted in selection of two superior bermudagrasses, which soon will be released as commercial cultivars.
Other warm-season turfgrass species, developed within other breeding programs and evaluated at UCR, include zoysiagrass, seashore paspalum, and St. Augustinegrass. These grasses are evaluated within a Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) project, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, and other collaborative projects.