University of Florida

St. Augustinegrass Cultivar Development & Genetics Program

Situation or Issue Identification

In the state of Florida there are more than 3.3 million acres of turfgrass associated with single family homes. A majority of these homes and acres utilize St. Augustinegrass turf. It is the number one choice for home lawns in Florida, accounting for more than 75% of the total. There is a need to develop new cultivars of St. Augustinegrass to fit the current and future needs for a sustainable Florida. Some of these needs are to reduce negative impacts of turfgrass on the environment through the reduction of fertilizer, water and pesticides use, and a reduction in the mowing frequency. Better adapted cultivars can improve quality appearance and reduce the amount of inputs required to maintain the turf.

Rationale for Research Support Resources

The development and introduction of new cultivars of St. Augustinegrass turf can reduce negative impact associated with turfgrass runoff and leaching of fertilizers and pesticides by reducing the amounts of these chemicals necessary to maintain a high quality lawn. Also, with the development of new cultivars that are better adapted to specific niches such as heavy shade, extreme temperature fluctuations and variable moisture conditions, the cost of maintaining turfgrass under these conditions will be reduced. Air pollution is of major concern to many citizens of Florida. The breeding program has focused on research that will help to reduce air pollution through the development of slower or lower growing grasses that require less mowing. If mowing could be reduced by 50%(every 2 weeks vs. every week) through the development of these grasses, the emissions from lawn mowers could be reduced similarly over the millions of acres that need mowing.

Measurable or Potential Impact in Terms of Social, Economic, and/or Environmental Factors Resulting from Expenditure of Research Support Funds

The dream of owning a home and having a lawn is an undeniable fact of life in the United States. Whether we develop new cultivars of St. Augustinegrass, the development will continue and more turfgrass will be planted. With the development of new cultivars of St. Augustinegrass turf that is better adapted to a sustainable Florida environment, we preserve what we like about Florida while providing for a dream.

Collaborating Organizations/Agencies & Teaching/Research/Extension Partnerships

  • Florida Turfgrass Association
  • Ft. Lauderdale REC
  • King Ranch
  • UF Environmental Horticulture Department
  • West Florida REC

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St. Augustinegrass