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Kikuyugrass: a California speciality

American Golf Kikuyugrass Summit
Last Monday I had a chance to particpate in a mini-summit on Kikuyugrass management for American Golf Superintendents organized by Scott Bourgeois. Kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is a warm season turf species both considered a noxious weed by some and also a perfect turf species for parts of southern California. It's very common in coastal regions of southern California and is the primary fairway and rough species at well known courses such as Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego and Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Native to East Africa, it was introduced to California from Australia for erosion control and spread quickly in southern California. Although common here as well as parts of Central and South America It's virtually unknown outside of southern California in the U.S. Most superintendents unfamiliar with the species often remark: "It looks like bermudagrass on crack", as kikuyuygrass often produces thick, agressive stolons.

The good things about kikuyugrass include: color retention under cool weather, aggressive growth and drought tolerance. The bad things include: the need for regular vertical mowing and thatch removal and its susceptibility to diseases like gray leaf spot, decline, and large patch.

The morning was kicked off with a tour of Riviera with superintendent Matt Morton that had been arranged by Matt Marsh (Marbella Golf & Country Club). I, being the chronic procrastinator, skipped the Riviera tour and ended up at a coffee shop on Sunset prepping a talk on Kikuyugrass diseases, where I bumped into USGA Agronomist Pat Gross on his way to Brentwood Country Club. (Life lesson: don't cheat on your girlfriend/wife, you never know who you're gonna run into).

The group then met up at Mountaingate Country Club where we spent the next few hours discussing Kikuyugrass diseases and fertility requirements and heard about Mike Wolpoff's (Seacliff Country Club) experiences with Revolver programs to remove cool season turf from Kikuyugrass fairways and roughs. The day way rounded out by a course tour with superintendent Robin Henry who shared a number of bunker rennovation tips with the group.

Overall - it was a great day sharing tips and tricks about kikuyugrass with a diverse group of southern California superintendents.

The next day, I packed up my bags to travel to Farmlinks in Sylacauga, Alabama. It's been great to see all of the research here and innovations from BASF, Toro and Agrium (as well as some very lush bermudgrass and zoysia here). More about that next week.

Martin Howard (Trump National) being eaten alive by Zoysia Patch at Farmlinks

Signing off from Farmlinks,

One response to “Kikuyugrass: a California speciality”

Keeping your grass healthy is essential! We're thinking about getting some lawn care help. It's so helpful to learn more about kikuyu grass!
Sylvia |

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