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August 2009
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October 2009

September 2009

Where is Sea Spray Paspalum Seed Grown?

Sea spray paspalum seed field
Where would you think Sea Spray seashore paspalum seed is produced? Certainly somewhere where warm-season grasses thrive, right? Perhaps at Arizona, or Georgia, or Mexico, or Hawaii, or Texas? Would you believe that Sea Spray seashore paspalum seed is produced in Oregon's Willamette Valley, where lawns and golf courses are covered with cool-season grasses such as perennial ryegrass, creeping bentgrass, and fine fescue?

Micah woods and gordon zielinski I met Gordon Zielinski, an executive with Scotts Professional Seed at his farm last week just north of Salem, and we looked at three of his fields of Sea Spray about one month out from harvest. Zielinski told me that the seed is produced at Oregon because the seeds produced in that climate are more viable. In tests conducted in hotter climates, the seeds did not fill as well, so the production of seed is now done on a few select fields in Oregon. I never would have thought that a warm-season grass seed such as Sea Spray would be produced in a cool place such as Oregon. But the climate there is apparently just right for the production of good quality Sea Spray seeds.

We have grown Sea Spray seashore paspalum at Thailand and have found that it performs well, especially out-performing some other varieties of seashore paspalum such as Salam or Saltene in tolerating drought and in recovery from drought. Salam seashore paspalum at Thailand can die when supplemental irrigation is not applied. The Sea Spray paspalum appears to have much better drought tolerance than does the Salam.

Sea spray flower

Seashore paspalum is an indeterminate producer of seeds, meaning that when the conditions are right, the grass will constantly flower. Therefore, the seed farmer must carefully monitor the conditions of the field and the environmental conditions to determine when the harvest should be made. The image above shows a flower still in bloom with the seeds not yet filled, and the image below shows fertilized and filled seeds of the Sea Spray. This is in the same field, on the same day, and with a grass such as Sea Spray that is an indeterminate seeder, special techniques must be applied after harvest to sort the seeds to ensure that the bag you purchase contains a high percentage of viable seeds. This is usually done post-harvest by using carefully regulated air blowers to push the lightest seeds away in a special cleaning process while letting the heaviest (the filled, viable seeds) seeds pass through into the seed bag.

Sea spray paspalum seed in hand

Waterlogged Soils and Turfgrass Performance

Vivek, ken marcum, and micah woods

A fascinating project looking at turfgrass growth in waterlogged conditions is being conducted at Singapore's HortPark by graduate student Vivek Govindasamy and his advisor Dr. Kenneth Marcum, Senior Researcher with CUGE Research - Turf Science. At Singapore there is a lot of rain, averaging almost 2.5 meters annually, the soils are often saturated with water, and in low-lying areas with poor drainage the grass is sometimes underwater.

Vivek govindasamy with waterlogging trial at hort park We don't know how different warm-season turfgrass species will respond to waterlogged soils, and Vivek's project will give some idea about which grasses can tolerate waterlogged soils most effectively, and may provide some idea as to what mechanism allows for that tolerance. Grasses are being grown in plastic tubs that maintain water at levels to either mimic normal soil moisture levels, waterlogged soils, or completely immersed turfgrass plants. Among the grasses being tested in these conditions are seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), zoysiagrass (Zoysia matrella), and carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus).

Vivek is measuring the chlorophyll content of the grass leaves as an index of plant health and will eventually be inspecting the roots to search for possible aerenchyma development in the grasses most tolerant to waterlogged conditions. The results of this research project will be very useful in that they will provide guidance on which grasses should be chosen for planting in areas susceptible to waterlogged soils. The upcoming CUGE International Turfgrass Seminar on 29 and 30 October may provide a chance to learn about some preliminary observations from these experiments.

Waterlogging trial at singapore

Sustainable Turfgrass Management in Asia 2010

R and a working for golf The R&A's Golf Course Committee have agreed to support the Sustainable Turfgrass Management in Asia 2010 seminar to be conducted near Pattaya, Thailand on 8, 9, and 10 March 2010. This seminar is being organized by the Thailand Golf Course Superintendents Association (Thai GCSA) and the Asian Turfgrass Center (ATC) on behalf of the Thailand Golf Association (TGA). Mr. Rungsrid Luxsitanonda, President of the TGA, said that "TGA sees the usefulness of such an event and welcomes as well as appreciates The R&A's continuing support of the seminar."

What are some of the highlights of this upcoming seminar?

  • Speakers will include Dominic Wall, Asia Pacific Director for The R&A, Dr. Micah Woods, Research Director of ATC, Darren Moore, Director of Maintenance at Beijing's Shadow Creek Golf and Country Club, and Matthew Roche, Senior Scientist with the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation.
  • The focus of the seminar will be sustainable turfgrass management, which we describe as "optimising the playing quality of the golf course in harmony with the conservation of its natural environment under economically sound and socially responsible management."
  • Information will be presented about new grass varieties and management techniques for these grasses, best management practices to implement a sustainable management program at your facility, and will include a field seminar at Siam CC and Laemchaebang CC.
  • Registration will be available this fall, and will be priced at 7,500 THB (and at only 5,500 THB for members of the Thai GCSA). This is inclusive of the three-day seminar program, coffee breaks, lunches, and two dinners. 
  • The program will commence on 8 March 2010 at 09:00 and will conclude on 10 March 2010 at 15:00.
  • The main venue for the seminars will be the Amari Orchid Resort & Tower.
  • We will apply for GCSAA CEUs for seminar delegates who wish to receive these credits.
  • Additional details about the program, speakers, schedule, topics, and registration will be posted at this website. You may sign up here to receive an e-mail each time there is new information posted.

Stone Creek Golf Club on CNBC

Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon's Clackamas County is not far from my sister's house, and I visited the course and met with superintendent David Phipps on a recent visit to Oregon. We looked at the course on a Micah woods and david phipps busy Saturday morning, and I had a look again at the course and Phipps in the CNBC video "Going for the Green" that you can see above. One thing that Phipps mentions in the CNBC video is the relatively low water use on the course, particularly in the roughs and other areas around perimeter of the playing corridors. This is a practice that could be implemented at more courses in Asia. If grasses are chosen that can withstand drought, then it is going to save money and provide improved playing conditions by avoiding water application to areas outside of the main playing corridors.

At Stone Creek, the management of the property goes beyond just the playing corridors. Phipps showed me the wildlife corridors that go through the course and that provide shelter for the many types of birds and mammals and other wildlife that make the course home. The concept of wildlife corridors was also discussed at the recent IGOLF seminar at Singapore's Keppel Club. One thing that I found especially interesting at Stone Creek was a colony of small pollinating bees in a rather nondescript patch of the rough. Phipps has been working with the Xerces Society to manage the property in a way that will maximize the health of the insect populations there.

Stone Creek Golf Club is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and the Club along with superintendent Phipps have been recognized many times by the Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards.

Golf Environment Organisation & GEO Certification

Golf Environment Organisation The Asian Turfgrass Center is now a member of Golf Environment Organisation's Scientific Network. Golf Environment Organisation offer a great program, the GEO Certification, for golf facilities that wish to demonstrate excellence in environmental management. The certification criteria are available for download from the Golf Environment Organisation website and can be used by any facility to self-assess their environmental performance.

We hear a lot of talk about sustainable management of golf facilities. But what does that mean? What I really like about Golf Environment Organisation and the GEO Certification is the clear, practical, and achievable GEO certification program, complete with guidance and common-sense requirements as outlined in the certification criteria. The certification criteria document reads like a best management practices guide for golf courses, and golf facilities that implement these practices will enhance their environment and may improve playing conditions and reduce operating expenses as well.

I am excited to see that a facility in Asia, The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course at Hong Kong, has already registered with the GEO Certification program. And I would encourage the managers of other golf facilities to investigate GEO Certification as it may be something that you would wish to register for.

Turfgrass Research Program at Singapore

Micah woods and kenneth marcum I was at Singapore last week for the IGOLF seminar and I also had a chance to meet with Dr. Kenneth Marcum from National Parks Singapore. Dr. Marcum is in charge of turfgrass research and is doing some interesting work to look at shade tolerance, traffic tolerance, grass type, soil type, and fertilization, among other factors, on the performance of amenity turfgrass at Singapore. We went to a turfgrass trial area at HortPark, where Dr. Marcum has established a trial with different grasses: carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus), zoysiagrass (Zoysia matrella), hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.), and seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum).

These grassed are planted in rows, on different soil types, and will be subjected to different fertilizer treatments and also to traffic, and the performance of the grasses will be evaluated to see which grasses perform the best, which soil conditions are the most conducive to good turfgrass conditions, and how the different fertilizers affect the turfgrass quality.

Micah woods and kenneth marcum at cuge trial plots
While I was there, the plots were being topdressed to smooth the surfaces, and the fertilizer and traffic treatments will begin soon. The Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE) will hold a seminar on Tropical Turfgrass Management on 29 and 30 October 2009, and participants in this CUGE training seminar will have a chance to visit HortPark to see these turfgrass research plots. It will be very interesting to follow the turfgrass research projects that are being done at Singapore. The National Parks and CUGE have made a significant commitment to turfgrass research and the results of their research program will be useful to many people in Southeast Asia.
Nparks cuge turfgrass research program