North Carolina State University has signed a long-term agreement with turfgrass research, development and marketing company Sod Solutions® to research and create a line of turfgrass varieties that will balance global environmental challenges while aiming for the “curb appeal” of attractive landscapes. This partnership, called Turf Research North Carolina (TRNC) was made in conjunction with the North Carolina Sod Producers Association (NCSPA) and is supported by a select group of NCSPA turfgrass grower members. Grasses currently under development include St. Augustine Grass, zoysia grass, bermudagrass, and centipede grass with potential for other varieties. The improved lawn grasses are being developed by renowned North Carolina State University turfgrass breeder, Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis, with release dates to follow over the next several years.
“We are very excited about this joint venture that will help us transition breeding efforts at NC State into commercial varieties for the southeastern United States,” said Dr. Milla-Lewis. “We look forward to this mutually beneficial relationship among North Carolina State University, Sod Solutions and the NC Sod Producers Association."
“Next generation” turfgrasses currently under development in the program are bred with the goal of achieving enhanced qualities such as improved drought toughness, better cold tolerance and lower water and chemical needs. In a new world of limited resources and increased environmental regulations, these are the characteristics that will be in top demand; qualities that will benefit sod producers and end-users alike.
“I see this as a long term win for the consumers of North Carolina, the turfgrass growers, the NCSPA and the continuation of work at NC State to breed the future of sustainable turfgrass,” said John Williams, Immediate Past President of NCSPA. “As these future superior turfgrass varieties come to the marketplace, the sod producers of North Carolina will be leading the next generation.”
The growers will contribute financially to the TRNC program over a six-year period, which will help fund the research and development of these varieties. All NCSPA participating growers contributing to the program will have exclusive access to the grasses when they are released. Sod Solutions will handle licensing outside of the state and internationally.
About North Carolina State University Turfgrass Science
The North Carolina State University turfgrass faculty serves the entire turfgrass industry by evaluating new and existing cultivars, production practices, fertility systems and pest management systems including weed, insect and disease management. Turfgrass production and management programs are constantly being created or updated and improved as a result of these research efforts. The faculty utilizes this new information by teaching and training present and future turfgrass managers through courses along with lab exercises, seminars and professional meetings.
About the North Carolina Sod Producers Association
The North Carolina Sod Producers Association represents growers throughout the state of North Carolina, producing quality turfgrasses to meet a variety of commercial, residential, sports and recreational turf needs. Founded in 2001, the NC SPA is dedicated to the preservation of the natural resources of our state and the quality of life for North Carolinians. We work to achieve this by constantly seeking new members who are quality growers; by keeping our members abreast of the latest research findings and regulations that may affect the sod business; and by encouraging quality sod within the industry by sharing solutions to common sod problems. The North Carolina Sod Producers Association promotes a strong and prosperous sod industry within the state of North Carolina.
About Sod Solutions
Sod Solutions, Inc. is an international turfgrass research and development company incorporated in the early 90s. The company’s primary research facility and headquarters is located near Charleston, S.C. Sod Solutions has developed and worked with universities and breeders to release NorthBridge™ Bermudagrass, Latitude 36™ Bermudagrass, Palmetto® St. Augustine, Celebration® Bermudagrass, EMPIRE Turf ®, Sapphire® St. Augustine, Captiva® St. Augustine, Bella® Bluegrass, Discovery™ Bermudagrass, Santee™ Centipede, Covington™ Centipede, Geo™ Zoysia, Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass®, HGT – Healthy Grass Technology®, and Sunday™ Ultra-dwarf Bermudagrass. For more information, visit www.sodsolutions.com or call 843.849.1288.