Friday, June 19, 2009
Avoiding a tall fescue feud on a farm in North Carolina
Which is the better turftype tall fescue cultivar — Tarheel II or Wolfpack II?
An innocent enough question, given that the question surfaced at a turfgrass field day.
But this wasn’t just any field day; this was the Scotts Professsional Seed/Pure-Seed Testing, Inc., Field Day in Rolesville, NC, which is within easy driving distance of both North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the University of North Carolina (UNC).
You see where we’re going with this, right?
The person asking the question (and he asked it with a sly grin on his face) was Dr. Charles “Charlie” Peacock, Professor of Crop Science at NCSU. He was one of several turfies respresenting the Wolfpack at the field day. For the record, there didn’t appear to be any Tar Heels standing among the 100 or so attendees checking out the test plots containing Wolfpack II, Tarheel II and several dozen other tall fescue varieties.
Peacock's question was directed at Dr. Melodee Fraser, who was hired to start the research farm 18 years ago and has led the breeding effort there ever since.
Sensing danger, Melodee wasn’t about to pick favorites considering the intense rivalry between the neighboring universities. Here answer: both varieties show significant improvement over previous varieties, particularly in their resistance to brown patch disease.
In the end, who can blame Melodee, who has devoted much of her adult life to developing the cultivars (along with many other improved grasses) for not publicly picking one of her “babies” over the other?
— by Ron Hall, who neglected (yet again) to wear a hat to a field day and suffered another sunburn on the top of his hair-deprived head.