KBG Cultivar Question

grass1950July 20, 2013

I'm consider renovating or or a hard overseed of my front lawn. Current lawn is primarily midnight. I'd like to go a bit darker and with more consistant turf growth. It seems that many folks have gone with blueberry and rave about its color and growth consistancy, but the NTEP just doesn't seem to reflect any advantages for blueberry over midnight. NTEP shows midnight statistaclly tied with, or superior to blueberry in nearly every catagory including color.
Am I missing something or misreading the NTEP.
I live in NE, Ohio so maybe those who have chosen blueberry over other cultivars live in one of the few regions where blueberry does better than other cultivars (midnight)?
Input appreciated.

Edit: FYI, I am using the NTEP test sights in W. Lafayette, IN., University Park, PA. and Madison, WI. for comparison or should I forget proximity and look for test site PH and soil profiles most like mine?

This post was edited by grass1950 on Sat, Jul 20, 13 at 13:53

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I think one thing that a lot of people miss when they look at the NTEPs is mowing height. The WI location you can pretty much throw out since they cut at golf fairway heights, .5 inches max. IL1 an PA1 are better predicters of how a cultivar will perform in a home lawn situation as they are cut 1.6-2.0 inches, but that is still on the low side. The NTEPs are really geared towards professional turf managers, so most of the sites are closer cut turf (golf courses and sports fields). Overall turf quality for schedule C is probably the most relevant data for predicting how cultivars will look in a home lawn. The IA site is a pretty good one for most of the country above the transition zone. Don't forget to look at irrigation practices on the sites as some use minimal irrigation.

Blueberry has gotten a lot of attention because of its genetic color scores. It has a perfect score in NJ this year, and has had one or two in other sites over the years. One thing that stands out is that even with such great color, it is never at the top for any of the turf quality scores, generally a point lower in schedules A, B, and C. I think overall turf quality is a better metric in determining lawn quality over color and Blueberry's overall color is very close to some overall better performers. I happen to think Bewitched is a better cultivar, and in terms of color is very close to Blueberry. Bewitched has much better scores in other categories like drought tolerance, summer stress, traffic, and the disease ratings. In some sites Bewitched's color ratings are higher as well, and I think unless you look really hard, you would be hard pressed to see the difference. pH and soil profiles will have some influence, but that would probably affect most cultivars the same. Most of the sites the pH is in the correct range, although iron content can have an effect on color, and the higher the pH, the less iron will be available.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Thanks tiemco. I'll take a look at Bewitched. Do you think Bewitched's color, growth characteristics and disease resistance are enough of an improvement over Midnight to justify a reno?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 7:19PM
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It all depends. Midnight is a great cultivar, generally considered one of the darkest ones, but it does have its weaknesses. If your Midnight isn't living up to your expectations, then you might have soil issues. Why are you thinking of renovating?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:56PM
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Soil is in pretty good shape. TEC about 9, PH 6.5, Ca 65%, Mg 17%, iron over 200ppm (regularly use fert with iron-- like milo), about the only things it's short on is boron and OM which is 3.5% and being addressed. Current lawn from a reno 3 years ago is full and thick.

I guess I'm a bit OC and am one of those people who think turf can never be too dark, but I'm not interested in foliar apps of iron. So color is the main driving force. If there was a cultivar that would give me a big enough bang, I was willing to do the reno for a monostand. From what I've been hearing, it appeared Blueberry was significantly darker than Midnight.
Now, if it was worth a reno to get the color, it would also address 2 other minor irritations I have with my current lawn:
1. Blade texture and slight color variation.
Lawn is about 60+% Midnight with the rest a variety of KBG cultivars including Award, Nuglade, Everest, Awesome and Skye. So, although there is almost no dixcernable color differences, as might be expected, I do notice some variety of blade texture (although others don't see it). The non-Midnight was added with the thought of disease prevention (before I knew anything about NTEP or the science behind blending.) Anyway, it has paid off (or I'm just lucky) as I have had very little disease issues and what little has occured took care of itself without any significant damage.
2. Growth consistancy.
Especially in Spring the turf gets choppy looking within days of a cut. Even the midnight seems to not be consistant in waking up as far as exhibiting differences in growth rate.

I've got a nice lawn, a very nice lawn, but if I can get significant color darkness (with the less important benefit of consistant growth rate and blade texture), I'd consider another full reno. It is sounding like the color difference isn't there though. Atleast not for NE Ohio.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:43PM
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Even though all of your cultivars are compact midnights, you can expect some variation within that highly conserved group. Skye was once considered a compact, but is now under the compact midnight umbrella, so it must behave morphologicaly different as classifications used to be based on appearance not genetic analysis. The early improved KBG was great in terms of appearance but disease was always a threat and blending different cultivars was very important to preserve a stand. Today that is not the case as there are many cultivars that do well across the board with regards to disease, and having a monostand is a viable strategy for creating a very consistent lawn. There is one study showing that a monostand of Award outperformed 98 out of 107 blends. Disease is always going to be a threat to any lawn, regardless of it's composition. If you just want a green lawn, then it's probably not the way to go, but if you lawn is more of a hobby/pastime, and you aren't happy with your current lawn, it might be the right choice for you. The cultivar you choose should be one that does well with the major diseases, and matches your preferences in color, texture, etc. I really like Bewitched's profile on paper, its color is near the top, and has good shade tolerance for KBG. Whether or not this is the right choice for you is your call. You say you have a very nice lawn now. If you decide to renovate for a nicer one, you have to remember there's no guarantees once you apply the round up.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Thanks again for your input. It's appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 12:19PM
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