UF/IFAS event unveils latest turfgrass research

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty will showcase the latest turfgrass research June 15 at the twenty-second annual UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Turfgrass Field Day and Expo.

The UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center will host the field day and expo, which is co-sponsored by the Gulf Coast Golf Course Superintendents Association, said J. Bryan Unruh, professor of environmental horticulture and associate center director of UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.

Green industry representatives, UF/IFAS Master Gardeners and anyone interested in turfgrass are invited. In past years, the field day and expo has drawn around 300 people from Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, Unruh said.

The event starts at 7:45 a. m. and will feature 25 to 30 representatives from various parts of the green industry, including chemical suppliers and equipment vendors. Throughout the day, “We open up the facility and show all the research we have going on,” Unruh said.

This year researchers will focus on the tools they use to test the effects of temperature on turfgrass. “We’re doing a bunch of science-based work on the influence of ambient and soil temperature on rooting,” Unruh said. “We’ve got some contraptions that allow us to manipulate environments,” and let researchers see how the turf responds to these changes.

UF/IFAS WFREC researchers will also discuss how the color of sand used on golf courses may protect turf from colder winter temperatures. They are currently experimenting with white, black and green sand, Unruh said.

During the morning, attendees can tour the facility and learn about the science that goes into maintaining golf courses, athletic turf and sod production. UF/IFAS faculty from WFREC and around the state will also present on topics such as pests, disease, weeds and nutrient management. In the afternoon, UF/IFAS Extension faculty will present continuing education classes on pesticide safety and handling.

“I think it has been not only great for our area but for turf management throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi,” Jamey Davis, superintendent at the Peninsula Golf and Racquet Club, said of the event.

“The information presented on current products and items on the horizon has always been imperative,” Davis said. “It is an event I personally look forward to, and one I know industry professionals throughout the region do as well. Furthermore, the work Dr. Unruh is doing with Florida BMPs will be invaluable for the turf management industry in the states mentioned above.”

At the end of the day, Unruh hopes attendees will also see that UF/IFAS is a resource for the turf industry.

“Our primary goal is to show that there is a lot of research that goes on behind the green industry and management recommendations,” Unruh said. Many consumers don’t realize that UF/IFAS recommendations are the product of scientific findings, so events like these allow people to see how the science translates into best practices, he said.

Sign up for the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Turfgrass Field Day and Expo at http://bit.ly/25aHrx1.

By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

Source: J. Bryan Unruh, 850-983-7105, jbu@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Marisol Amador