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Finding the Best Grass Variety

05 Feb 2017 News

From Queensland to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra there isn’t really a perfect grass variety, but HAL (Horticulture Australia Limited) with the help from some research carried out in WA, set out to find which variety was the best for the area.

According to recent research done by the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (HAL project TU04013), available at * they found Sir Walter Buffalo grass was a good one.

13 buffalo (Stenotaphrum secundatum) cultivars were tested at 7 locations for their colour, turf quality and thatch development. The tables below is a summary of the results for 4 of those cultivars. (0=worst, 9=best)

CultivarTotal Of Colour ScoresAverage Colour% Diff From Control
Sir Walter66.76.19


CultivarTotal Of Quality ScoresAverage Quality% Diff From Control
Sir Walter64.86.5+3

((0=bare ground (no thatch) 9=heaviest thatch))

CultivarTotal Of Thatch ScoresAverage Thatch% Diff From Control
Sir Walter40.14.5-2

* When we combine these scores with the thatch score as a negative to give a true overall figure, we get:

CultivarColour+Quality-Thatch% Difference From Control
Sir Walter91.410

* Sir Walter, according to this research is a good one, that’s why it is the most popular and biggest buffalo in Oz (data available from TPA research).
Following are some other interesting statistics from the same recent research highlighting Sir Walter’s characteristics.

Sward height
Turf sward height (mm) on irrigated swards of 4 buffalos grown under shade at Redlands Research Station Qld. Oct 07-May 09

CultivarTotal HeightAv. Over 9 Measurements% Difference From Control
Sir Walter536.659.6+3

* All varieties grew to about the same height with Sapphire needing slightly more mowing to look acceptable.
NB, These results differ greatly from other non-independent research posted elsewhere on the web.

Percentages of bare ground determined visually for 4 buffalos that have undergone wear treatments in Aug 08 at Redlands Research Station Qld

Cultivar% Bare Over 14 Wks,10 ReadingsAcceptable Level Achieved At Wk% Difference From Control
Sir Walter16.39+130

*Sir Walter Buffalo & Shademaster had about half the wear of Palmetto whereas Sapphire wore twice as much. Palmetto & Sapphire took 4 weeks longer to reach an acceptable level after being worn than Sir Walter.

Drought tolerance
Total clippings produced (g/m2) by 4 buffalo grass genotypes irrigated at 80%, 50% or 33% replacement of net evaporation, for 98 days in plots at Shenton Park WA (summer of 07/08). Plots were mown weekly at 25mm.

CultivarClippings @ 80% Replacement (Control) G/Dry Mass/M2Clippings @ 50% Replacement
(% Of Control)
Clippings @ 33% Replacement
(% Of Control)
Sir Walter2039154


*Sir Walter Buffalo produced more clippings under extreme drought than Palmetto or Sapphire meaning it is more drought tolerant.

Root mass
Total root mass (kg dry mass /m3) of 4 buffalo grass genotypes. Samples taken at – 12mths (Nov 06) and -24mths (Dec 07) after planting from irrigated plots irrigated at 80% replacement of net evaporation at Shenton Park WA

CultivarIncrease Kg/M3% Increase% Increase Over Control
Sir Walter8.3230+24

*In the 2nd year of your lawns life, Sir Walter Buffalo will increase its root structure 51% more than Palmetto and 44% more than Sapphire.

Root depth
Root distribution 12mths after planting (21/11/06)

CultivarRoot Depth
Sir Walter50-100cm

*After only 12 months, Sir Walter Buffalo roots exceed 50cm in depth

Leaf water content
Leaf water content of 4 buffalo grass genotypes irrigated at 50% or 33% replacement of net evaporation for 56 days during summer of 06/07. Shenton Park WA.

Cultivar@50% Replacement Of Net Evaporation. Ml/G Dry Mass@33% Replacement Of Net Evaporation. Ml/G Dry Mass
Sir Walter>2.5>2

* Sir Walter buffalo loses the least amount of moisture from the leaf in extreme dry conditions.

Subjective turf quality rating (0=dead, 6=acceptable and 10=excellent) at end of 10wk trial (11/5/09) Qld

Sir Walter65.

* Sapphire & Sir Walter Buffalo have similar shade tolerances at high levels of shade. Palmetto & Sir Walter may have scored better if the initial (0%) turf quality was better.

Winter growth
Comparison of winter growth of 4 buffalo grass genotypes, samples taken winter July 07 at Wembley Golf Course WA

CultivarWinter Clippings G/M2/Wk% Difference From Control
Sir Walter.76271

*Sir Walter Buffalo grew right through winter, producing 3.5 times the growth of Palmetto & over twice that of Sapphire, making it a true winter active lawn being more capable to handle the wear and tear of the average Aussie back yard.

Winter colour
Comparison of summer vs. winter colour of 4 buffalo grass genotypes. Measurements taken Feb 07 & Jul 07 at Wembley Golf Course WA

CultivarSummer Hue AngleWinter Hue AngleChange Indicating Winter Decline
Sir Walter114106-8.5

*Sir Walter & Sapphire buffalo had the least loss of colour in winter, whereas Palmetto nearly lost as much colour as Shademaster.
NB, These results differ greatly from other non-independent research posted elsewhere on the web.

* Denotes editor’s comments.


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