b'GIANT VIEWSHOW KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS CAME TO PLAYA BIG PART IN EVERYONES LIVESKENTUCKY BLUEGRASS. This species, known as Poa praten- near Palmer, Alaska, and was com-sis, is not usually associated with production agriculture,mercialized. Touchdown was found but it does play an unrecognized but important role in theon a fairway on the National Golf lives of most Canadian homeowners.Links of America at Long Islands, The commercial sod industry in Canada and much ofSouthampton. the United States is widely recognized. The evolution ofSuperintendent Tom Rewinski progressively improved grass varieties is appreciated by abrought this discovery to the famed handful of producers in this vital industry.turf program at Rutgers University, Poa pratensis an apomictic species. In laymans terms,which commercialized it. It was it is cross-pollinating the flowers pollen to fertilize thehugely popular with the sod industry Martin Pickendosperm. While 99% apomictic, it may produce 1%largely for its disease resistance and is a seed industrycross pollinated seed. This pollination occurs in nighttimestrong root system. legend andhours and that is when new pollen may be introduced.The late Dr. C. Reed Funk, turf-co-founder ofSome American and European breeders continue to usegrass researcher at Rutgers University, Pickseed Canada this process; this resulted in most early varieties being thewas actively pursuing a system of result of their discoveries. The first such widely recognizedsynthetization along with his grad variety was Merion. It was discovered growing on a fewstudent, Dr. G.W. Pepin. The first tees of the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.such crossbred varieties included Their superintendent, Joe Valentine, took plugs to theAmerica, Adelphi and Bonnieblue, USDA agricultural station in Beltsville, Maryland.which were released into the market. The varietys characteristics included a strong darkConcurrently, there were active breed-green colour, a dense root system conferring someing programs in Europe, mainly drought tolerance, as well as the roots forming a strongHolland and Scandinavia, and to a carpet-like sod. Its appearance coincided with the birthlesser extent, Germany.and growth of the sod industry in Canada circa 1955 andThe most successful variety from much of the United States.this basket of research was Fylking Sod installers during this period would buy a pasture0217, released to the seed division of field from a livestock producer and strip the sod. TheyMaple Leaf Mills and distributed in noticed that the sod in the farms laneway was the bestNorth America and Asia and Baron and strongest. This was attributed to the traffic from thefrom the large Dutch company cows hooves, forcing out the weaker grasses and lettingBarenbrug. the bluegrass portion dominate.Currently in Ontario there are Around this time, a well-travelled and experienced4,500 hectares of Kentucky bluegrass farmer from the Alliston, Ont., areaWilliam Ruthvensold annually. The seeding rate ismade the decision to start growing sod commercially.approximately 100 to 125 kilograms He purchased Merion seed and his product was calledper hectare. As development land Merion Sod. Soon, other growers followed him into thisprices have increased, building lots lucrative production, and it became standard to planthave diminished in size. some areas with 100% Merion, but larger areas in blendsProducing high quality seed of of 30% to 50% Merion and the balance common or noKentucky bluegrass is demanding. variety stated.Most successful production has been Because of the apomictic structure of this species,situated in Idaho and Washington. varieties tended to be very uniform, both a strength andThe area became famous for its a weakness. Merion, for example, was susceptible toquality seed when the Jacklin Seed powdery mildew and leaf rust and when such a diseaseCompany of Spokane successfully struck, the entire crop was affected. By blending twoproduced high yields of the initial or more varieties, it ameliorated this risk. Plant breedersvariety Merion. Kentucky bluegrass were soon on the hunt for more new varieties. Nugget,sod is a strong contributor to a green a dark green variety, was discovered on the ocean shoreworld. 48GERMINATION.CAJULY 2022'