April 30, 2014

On Nov. 16, 2013 I wrote a blog about the fact that tall fescue seemed to be going off color earlier than usual in the fall of 2013.  It seemed to be turning brown weeks ahead of the other cool-season species.

This spring, it seems to be greening up much later than usual.  We had a hard winter in Ames and tall fescue is more susceptible to cold temperature damage than grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and creeping bentgrass.  However, the greenup of tall fescue appears to be surprisingly late.  The pictures below were taken on April 25, 2014.  The demonstrate the very slow progress of greenup on tall fescue in our region.

The first picture is from the perennial ryegrass National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) trial at the Iowa State turfgrass research area.  The left is a tall fescue area surrounding the trial and the right is a series of 5 X 5 ft perennial ryegrass cultivar plantings.  As I have covered in earlier blogs, perennial ryegrass also showed damage from the winter.  Even the ryegrass is greening up well ahead of the tall fescue.  The dormant plot is Lynn perennial ryegrass.  There were considerable differences in greenup among the perennial ryes this spring.  I have data that I will report later.

The next two  pictures are the tall fescue NTEP trial.  The green strip is a perennial ryegrass planted between the replications.  The tall fescues have still not greened up as of today, April 30.  We will be collecting data on tall fescue greenup as it begins.

The next two pictures are of a tall fescue sports field that I established at a local church site (the Plex) four years ago.  The green area on the left in the upper picture and the right in the lower picture is a Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass turf that is emerging from dormancy.  The right is the tall fescue field that is still brown on April 25,

I am wondering if others in the Midwest are seeing this same slow greenup of tall fescue.  Send me some pictures if you are seeing this.


Nick Christians Professor

Nick Christians, Ph.D. – University professor of turfgrass management, Iowa State University, Department of Horticulture, Ames, IA, and adjunct faculty, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Dr. Christians received his B.S. from the Colorado State University ...