Finally, A Grass To Celebrate

September 1, 2011

In Texas, dove hunting began today and those hunters lucky enough to find some water to hunt near will find their gun barrels with a heat index almost as hot as the Texas sun. There in lies the problem, water, or the lack thereof. I enjoy a little time in the field bird huntin’ and one thing it seems that you can always count on with dove season is the rain that comes along with opening day. I realize that is a bit of a reach but that’s the way it feels. With history in mind and a historical drought for the Gulf Coast of Texas on my mind I anticipated this day. I was not looking forward to showering down on a mourning dove with a blistering shower of Remington Shurshot Heavy Dove Load, but rather being showered upon by thirst quenching, life giving rain from a wave of gulf moisture.

Newsflash, it’s hot and dry.

What does all of this have to do with a grass worth celebrating? Look around, there seems not to be a lot to Celebrate about grass in these drought conditions. Here is the part where I could go into all of the facts about grass being 30 degrees cooler than asphalt on a summer day and so on, and so on.

That is a different article, I just want to talk plainly about things that I see in this historic drought we are experiencing. I have always said there is no perfect grass and I still believe that. Here is the payoff. I am about to let you in on a secret, shhhhhhhh. Celebration® Bermuda. Let me say that again, Celebration Bermuda.

Celebration Bermudagrass in the field

At Murff Turf Farm, we grow nine varieties of turf and the drought has taught me something different about each variety. Celebration has really impressed me as the drought conditions linger on. The drought tolerance it has displayed has been astounding. We have always relied heavily on mother nature to produce our turf and this year she has not been so kind. We do irrigate our turf, but much of that irrigation is used in order to give us the moisture needed in order to harvest and send out a turf that is ready to root down. We have had a lot of damage to all of our varieties in these dry conditions. The grass that has had the least amount of injury and death has been the Celebration Bermuda.

Celebration big rolls

There is a location that we no longer farm and thus has not been irrigated at all this year. In this location there was a 4 acre plot of Celebration that bordered a plot of tif 419. Comparing the two plots of grass you immediately see the difference. In a year where this location has had a total of 3″ of rain, compared with the normal 30″ of rain, the tif 419 has about 10% live rate compared to about a 90% live rate of the Celebration. I told you this is plain talk and those observations are not scientific hypotheses, they are what I see. That makes a believer out of this grass farmer. A few years ago, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), in conjunction with the Turfgrass Producers of Texas did a drought study that basically showed the excellent drought tolerance displayed by Celebration compared to more than 50 other varieties of turf. That was a scientific study and I would say that science was confirmed by mother nature in 2011.

Celebration on left and Tif 419 on right
Tif 419 on left and Celebration on right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have observed it in yards this year where with water it has looked great and I have seen it in yards with no irrigation and it looked much better than the neighboring yards with St. Augustine and zoysia. Not only does it stand up to the drought conditions but it also displays excellent wear tolerance which really shows up in various sports applications. I really liked the Celebration going into 2011, but after this crazy year, the likability factor has shot through the roof.

There is no perfect grass. All grasses have their limitations when it comes to different environments and some are suited to certain environments better than others. That being said, Celebration is high on my list as a tough, dependable, aesthetically pleasing turf. It’s growing on me, and on our farm, and it will grow on you; well maybe not “on” you, but you get my point.

Lindy Murff

Winter Dormancy

February 11, 2011

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm in all these freezing temperatures we’ve had lately.  I guess you get used to below freezing temperatures if you live in a cold climate but down here in Southeast Texas we just aren’t used to temps below freezing.  Although I will say that when the temperature last Friday (Feb 4 2011) only got down to 29 degrees fahrenheit, I thought to myself how much nicer that was than the 21 degrees we had the night before!

Speaking of winter and cold temps, I wanted to talk about how grass can go dormant in the winter time.  Warm season grasses that are grown here in Southeast Texas go dormant when the temps get below 60 degrees F on a regular basis.  The grass doesn’t turn brown right away and can stay green late into the fall.  The grass will start to turn brown and lose its color when we start getting frost on the ground.

The reason I bring this up is because sometimes in the winter we have customers order grass and then are not happy when they receive brown grass and the grass in their yard isn’t brown or at least still has a good bit of green tint to it.  If you live in a subdivision or in town with buildings all around you or even if you have some trees in your yard there’s a good chance your lawn won’t turn very brown.  If your lawn is protected from frost by trees, or buildings or just the general heat of other homes in close proximity, then your grass won’t turn as brown as ours does out on the farm.

Below are some pictures to illustrate.  Our fields are basically wide open to the weather so the grass in the field doesn’t have any protection from the frost and it can turn a crispy looking brown!  This picture was taken Thursday, February 10, 2011.  We have had frost on the ground probably every morning for the last two weeks.

Eastgate field Feb 2011

In these next pictures you can see that the yard is basically brown but under the trees where the grass was protected somewhat from the frost, the grass still has some green color to it.  And this is only from protection from the trees.  Imagine if your yard had some trees and had houses all around to protect it even more.

Empire under trees at office
Empire under tree next to office

So please just remember that the grass coming from the farm in winter will probably not be as green as what is in your neighbor’s yard but it is still a great time to install sod.  With the grass being dormant it requires less water.  It will put down roots even though it’s dormant.  And when spring comes along the grass will be ready to take off.  When we plant a new field or replant an existing one we almost always do it during the late fall and winter months.  There is just so much less maintenance required for newly planted grass when the grass is dormant.

Thanks for stopping by and be safe out there!