The University of Georgia has received the zoysiagrass collection developed by Jack Murray, a turf breeder with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.
An agreement between Bladerunner Turf, Inc., which acquired the collection in 2000, and the UGA Research Foundation, Inc., was signed to allow the UGA turf breeding program in Tifton to develop new turfgrass cultivars from the valuable zoysiagrass collection.
David Douget, owner of Bladerunner Farms, said the collection has already produced several commercially available varieties of zoysiagrass, and he has high hopes that UGA breeders will use the collection to further improve and refine cultivars for release.
Brian Schwartz, the UGA researcher who heads the turf breeding program at the UGA Tifton campus, said his team will use the plant collection to develop superior zoysiagrass cultivars adapted to the Southeast and similar environments around the world.
“This collection will fill a need in Georgia and the Southeast for new, improved zoysiagrass varieties,” Schwartz said.
The new collection adds to a turfgrass program that now includes four of the world’s top five warm-season turfgrass types — Bermuda, centipede, seashore paspalum and zoysia. Schwartz said zoysiagrass is a high-quality, slow-growing turf that requires less fertilizer than faster-growing Bermuda.
“This zoysiagrass collection gives us an opportunity to mix excellent plant material with a turfgrass breeding program that’s been active and hugely successful for more than 50 years,” Schwartz said, “and we intend to make the most of it.”