Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Environmental Horticultural Science


Horticulture and Crop Science


Terry L. Vassey


Buffalograss [Buchloe dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.] is a warm season, perennial grass native to the Great Plains from southern Canada to Mexico (Beetle, 1950). This newly developed, low input, turf-type grass is recommended for use on low maintenance sites (Falkenberg-Borland and Butler, 1982; Pozarnsky, 1983; Wu and Harivandi, 1989; Shearman et al., 2005). Recently, the use of buffalograss as a turfgrass has increased due to its drought tolerance, low nutrient requirements, and low growing height (Harivandi and Wu, 1995; Frank et al., 2004). It is an excellent choice in California where water use is limited. Unsightly winter dormancy of buffalograss can be overcome by growing mixtures of buffalograss and fine fescue (Festuca spp.). Overtime species composition can be overtaken by the fine fescue, unintentionally converting the mixed turfgrass stand to a fine fescue monostand (Severmutlu, et al., 2005).

Research on buffalograss establishment in fine leaved fescues from seed or by vegetative methods was completed from 2007 to 2009 at the California Polytechnic State University Horticulture Unit in San Luis Obispo, California. Comparisons were made between mixtures of eight cultivars of buffalograss (Prairie, Prestige, UC Verde, 609, Bowie, Cody, Texoka, and Bison) and three fine leaved fescue species [hard fescue (Festuca trachyphylla Thuill.), sheep fescue (Festuca ovina L), and red fescue (Festuca rubra L.)] to determine which combination and establishment strategy provides the highest quality turf for the California central coast region.

Evaluations made on buffalograss establishment and competitive ability when grown in pre-existing fine fescue turfgrasses showed seeded cultivars (Bowie, Cody, Texoka, and Bison) were unsuccessfully established (zero percent coverage in two growing seasons), and vegetative cultivar (Prairie, Prestige, 609 and UC Verde) establishment was greatly dependent on the type of cultivar planted. After two growing seasons, buffalograss cultivar UC Verde had the highest establishment rate (38.6 percent living ground cover) and Prestige had the lowest (11.4 percent living ground cover). Results from this study do not recommend establishing seeded buffalograss cultivars into pre-existing fine leaved fescue turfgrass stands. Vegetative buffalograss cultivars can be established into pre-existing fine leaved fescue turfgrass stands; however, this process is too slow for most turfgrass practitioners and is quite unsightly in winter dormancy during the establishment process.

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