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Handout, Making Saltgrass into a Turfgrass- ~ -~- ~~~ --fv ~ P RH-(~ 7~ ~~-/~ i ,+"""` Making Saltgrass Into A Turferass ~..- Location Homculture Research Center Sponsor Umted States Golf Associauon Principa! Investigator Dana Ctuistensen Inland saltg~ass, Disnchlis s ~o cata var smcta, was looked at m the 1940's as a possible forage gass smce it occupies several m~Lon acres of rangeland Interest m saltgrass as a turfgrass goes back almost three decades when Dr Jackie Buder and Dr Robm Cuany, Colorado State Unrversiry, dtscussed usme nauve ~asses for nuf use Nauve ~asses have low water requuements and aze adapted to alY•ahne and sahne s~tes Saltgass tends to form ht~hly dense, relavvely short turf and ~ows m a wide range of soil cond~vons It has even been found ~owmg m road asphal[ where the temperature ~s 130 degees It is extremely drought tolerant, doesn't seem to expenence summer dormancy or at least shows good summer color In plots az CSU, rt exlub~cs better resisrance co drou~ht than buffalogass, blue gama, crested wheatgrass. alkah ~ass and bermuda~ass Saltgrass ~eens up mid :Apnl m Ft Co1Lns and goes docmant after the fust hazd freeze. It is a wazm season C4 perenmal. roots to 8 feet and spreads pnmanly thcough vigorous rhuomes Seed produchon is relanvely tare, and the mun emphasis m the breedtng progam has been to mcrease seed producnon The abiLty of a hne to produce seed would allow n to be more readily planted as a[urfgrass Itiland salt~ass grows from northem Me~co to Canada and itom Califomia ro Missoun Individual planu show a w~de range of vanabiLry m height, deasity, vigor, color and other taits Some plants, when compazed to each ~ other, do not even look l~ke they belong m the same species Another aait the species e~club~u is an mcrease m shoot density wi[h maeasmg aaffic When patt of a plant is bemg run over by cazs, ~t starrs to gow shorter and sends out more shoots Tlus is another plus for usmg saltgass as a turfgass Collecnons m the nursery aze from Cahfomia, Nevada, Wyommg, South Dakora, Nebraska and Colorado They have been evaluared for seed producuon and aze presendy bemg evaluated by Dr Tony Koslu to see how they respond to mowmg and herb~c~de use Many Lnes extubit hp shreddmg, not a desuable trait. An ideal rurfgrass should have good color, low water and ferulizer use, tugh shoot densiry, be uniform loolang, have d~sease resistance and should not have to be mowed frequendy Fmdmg a smgle Lne with all these atmbu[es is lilce findmg a needle m a haystack In order to obtazn such a hne, CSU is mcreasmg the size of ~a collecnons by gomg back out mto the wild and findmg plante Addiaonally, crosses aze bemg made between luies, each of whuh may have a few desuable ~rs, and whose progeny mtgh[ have all trazts Saltgass will be the nu-Fgrass for the Rocky Mountau~ region smce it u very drought tolerant, and the region u sem~daert Indeed, vnth dryer than nocmal climau the past few years and dwmdlmg water supphes, gassa lilce salt~ass will be m even more demand. The USGA is coavmced so much so thac they connnue to suppott us with fundm~ ~ 14