June 8 2020 07:51 AM

Its most visually significant feature is its unique blue-green color.

Photo: Sod Solutions

The University of Florida’s first turfgrass release in over a decade, CitraBlue St. Augustine, is now available for purchase throughout Florida. Currently there are more than 350 acres across the state up for sale to the public with an exponential increase expected in 2021. This grass is a product of many years of research, development and testing begun in 2006 and led by UF breeder Kevin Kenworthy. CitraBlue is naturally developed for Florida and has many improved features over other grasses that may answer many statewide environmental challenges.

CitraBlue’s traits were developed by narrowing down hundreds of different lines of grass. This grass was developed first and foremost for a resistance to disease. CitraBlue has shown an enhanced level of resistance to damaging diseases grey-leaf spot, take-all root rot and large patch. Other traits include an elevated drought persistence, a slower growth rate than Floratam St. Augustine, a dense canopy to cut down on weed pressure and it’s one of the top options for shade tolerance in the state. Its most visually significant feature is its unique blue-green color which will set it apart in a field of other grasses. This will lead to a reduction in over-fertilization.

CitraBlue is Kenworthy’s first release from a program partially funded by more than 20 sod producers across the state of Florida. They, in conjunction with the Turfgrass Producers of Florida, formed a research support group called Turf Research Florida to help develop this variety. This group includes most of the top turfgrass producers in the Sunshine State.

“We are very excited about CitraBlue and what it will bring to the turf industry,” says Kenworthy. “Grower responses and landscape tests have been very favorable. We look forward to learning and sharing more in the future as production expands.”