In Minnesota, producing grass seed and sod suitable for northern climates is a growing industry. University of Minnesota developments of sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives to intensive, high-maintenance turfgrass are in high demand.

Many grass species popular in other states, such as perennial ryegrass, lack the hardiness to survive a winter of harsh temperatures or little insulating snow. University grass breeders use genetic material from old turf areas in Minnesota, collections from other parts of the world, and materials from research institutions in other states to develop improved hardy turfgrass varieties.

Current efforts in perennial ryegrass breeding focus on improved winter hardiness, and researchers have recently made significant advances, especially for resistance to snow mold disease. Researchers continue to test several species that include Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and a few native grass species. In addition to winter hardiness, they evaluate quality of color, density, texture, mowability, growth habit, seed production, multiple pest resistance, efficient water and nutrient use, and drought tolerance.

Learn more about turfgrass science at the University of Minnesota.

U of M Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) Varieties

Variety Uses Year
Arctic Green Lawns, golf courses 2007
Green Emperor Lawns, golf courses, athletic fields 2013
Polar Green Lawns, athletic fields 2006
Ragnar Lawns, athletic fields 2001
Ragnar II Lawns, athletic fields 2005
Royal Green Lawns, golf courses, athletic fields 2013

U of M Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) Variety

Variety Uses Year
Park Lawns 1957

U of M Creeping Bluegrass (Poa annua var. reptans) Variety

Variety Uses Year
TruePutt Golf courses 1998