University of Missouri Extension

G6772, Revised January 2002

Cool-Season Grass Cultivars for Athletic Fields

Brad S. Fresenburg and John H. Dunn
Department of Horticulture

There is no substitute for adequate irrigation of athletic fields. Irrigation should be the number one priority when upgrading playing surfaces. Benefits from turfgrass selection and management will only be realized when irrigation is available.

The next line of defense against compacted fields is a healthy mat of actively growing turf that will prevent hard and unsafe conditions. Select traffic-tolerant cultivars when you are establishing or renovating the playing field. Cultivars that wear down slower and recover faster will make turf maintenance practices such as coring and fertilizing more successful. Choosing the right grass will protect the field from the players and also will safeguard the players from a slick, muddy and often rock-hard playing surface.

The cultivars listed in Table 1 were ranked according to either quality or wear tolerance, or both, as determined in the National Turgrass Evaluation Program.

Many of the athletic fields in Missouri are unirrigated and a misconception has developed that a drought-tolerant species like tall fescue can provide an acceptable playing surface without irrigation. Tall fescue is a bunch grass that will result in a clumpy, uneven surface when it is left unirrigated and mowed at heights necessary for sports activities. Turf-type tall fescues can be mixed with 5 to 10 percent Kentucky bluegrass to produce a smoother playing surface.

Seeding rates can vary according to field conditions. Normal seeding rates are used under ideal conditions, such as a proper seedbed, adequate watering and a one-year growing period without traffic. Higher seeding rates typically are used when quick cover is needed and the fields will be put in use while the turf is still immature (Table 2).

Slit or drill seeding is preferred for renovating sports fields, because germination is improved and the crowns of seedlings are somewhat protected from traffic. Broadcast seeding in combination with coring, slicing and topdressing is also an acceptable practice for renovating worn fields. Seed that is broadcast and not firmly planted below the surface may be able to establish, but the seedlings are easily dislodged and will quickly decline when they are exposed to athletic traffic.

Mature stands of the top-performing grasses, combined with irrigation, proper turf maintenance and traffic control, result in safer and more attractive playing surfaces.

The list of cultivars in this publication is not meant to be all-inclusive. Cultivars other than those listed may also be suitable for use in Missouri.

Table 1
Turf cultivars selected for athletic fields.

Kentucky bluegrass
Excellent: Abbey
Asset
A-34
Blackstone
BlueStar
Challenger
Chateau
Coventry
Fairfax
Glade
Julia
Livingston
Marquis
Midnight
Moonlight
Nuglade
Preakness
Quantum Leap
Unique
Good: America
Argyle
Bartitia
Blacksburg
Boutique
Brilliant
Bristol
Brooklawn
Classic
Denim
Freedom
Huntsville
Langara
Limousine
Nassau
North Star
Nublue
Nustar
Rugby II
Fair: Able I
Baron
Barzan
Georgetown
Gnome
Haga
Kelly
Liberty
Merit
Princeton
Ram-1
Victa
Tall fescue
Excellent: Apache II
Austin
Barlexas II
Bonanza
Chieftan II
Crossfire II
Finelawn 88
Finelawn Petite
Guardian
Jaguar II
Jaguar III
Masterpiece
Millenium
Pixie
Plantation
Rebel Jr.
Rebel III
Rembrandt
Shenandoah
SR 8200
Tomahawk
Trailblazer II
Vegas
Good: Bonanza II
Bonsai 2000
Cochise
Coronado Gold
Endeavor
Falcon III
Grande
Houndog V
Legend
Olympic Gold
Phoenix
SR 8300
Tarheel
Titan 2
Watchdog
Wolfpack
Fair: Adventure II
Avanti
Ky-31
Monarch
Rebel 3D
Safari
Southern Choice
Perennial ryegrass
Excellent: APM
Brightstar II
Calypso II
Catalina
Citation III
Imagine
Omni
Pennant II
Prelude III
Riviera II
Saturn II
Secretariat
SR 4100
SR 4200
Good: Allaire II
Blackhawk
Charger II
Cowboy II
Derby Supreme
Manhattan 3
Morning Star
Omega 2
Palmer III
Paragon
Pizzaz
Precision
Repell II
Rodeo II
Yorktown III
Fair: Advantage
Cutter
Quickstart
Saturn

Table 2
Normal and high seeding rates for various turfgrasses and turfgrass mixes used in athletic fields.

  Normal seeding rate
"ideal conditions"
High seeding rate
"quick cover"
Kentucky bluegrass 1.5 to 2.0 pounds per 1,000 square feet 2.5 to 3.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet
Perennial ryegrass 6 to 9 pounds per 1,000 square feet 10 to 15 pounds per 1,000 square feet
Tall fescue 6 to 9 pounds per 1,000 square feet 10 to 15 pounds per 1,000 square feet
80 percent Kentucky bluegrass
20 percent Perennial ryegrass
2 to 2.5 pounds per 1,000 square feet 3 to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet
90 percent Tall fescue
10 percent Kentucky bluegrass
6 to 9 pounds per 1,000 square feet 10 to 15 pounds per 1,000 square feet

G6772, revised January 2002

G6772 Cool-Season Grass Cultivars for Athletic Fields | University of Missouri Extension

Order publications online at http://extension.missouri.edu/explore/shop/ or call toll-free 800-292-0969.

University of Missouri Extension - print indicia