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

Arctic GreenLawns, golf courses2007
Galactic GreenLawns, golf courses, athletic fields2015
Green EmperorLawns, golf courses, athletic fields2013
Polar GreenLawns, athletic fields2006
RagnarLawns, athletic fields2001
Ragnar IILawns, athletic fields2005
Royal GreenLawns, golf courses, athletic fields2013

U of M Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) Variety


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

TruePuttGolf courses1998

U of M Hard fescue (Festuca brevipila) Variety

MNHDLawns, golf courses, sod
production, no-mow areas

U of M Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) Variety

Vinter (MSP4101)Cover crop, forage2020