Oklahoma, United States: Thanks to cutting edge research and development from university programmes, new turfgrass varieties offer significant improvements over older selections. Latitude 36, a product of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) research programme, is the latest vegetative Bermudagrass available from Atlas Turf.
OSU, credited with some of the world’s top turfgrass varieties, developed Latitude 36 through a seven-year testing programme. Improving upon their earlier releases of Patriot and Riviera, Latitude 36 represents the next stage of Bermudagrass development.
“Our initial breeding goal for developing Latitude 36 Bermudagrass was to create new varieties improved in cold hardiness, turf quality and adaptation,” said Dr Wu Yanqi, Meibergen Family Endowed Professor in Plant Breeding at OSU. “Latitude 36 has these desired traits.”
Latitude 36 was part of the 2007-2012 and 2013-2018 National Turfgrass Evaluation Programme (NTEP) national Bermudagrass tests. Dr Wu said: “In the two tests, Latitude 36 was always in the top group in turf quality, indicating this variety consistently performed well over a large geographic range and multiple environments (10 years in around 20 locations).
“Now Latitude 36 is a national standard variety in the coming 2019-2024 NTEP trial. Cold hardiness and spring spot disease resistance of Latitude 36 are significantly better than many previous varieties, such as Tifway . Turf quality of Latitude 36 is exceptional.”
According to Dr Wu, Latitude 36 provides an excellent turfgrass solution for golf courses, sports fields and landscaping. Dark green with a soft feel and a finer leaf blade than either Tifway 419 or Celebration, Latitude 36 is ideally suited for many locations and applications in Asia.
When compared to Zoysia, Latitude 36 offers several advantages. “I can tell substantial differences between Latitude 36 [and Zoysia Matrella varieties],” said Dr Wu. “Latitude 36 has been improved for cold hardiness and traffic tolerance in addition to its ‘beauty’ turf traits (ie, very fine, soft leaf blade, uniform turf surface, etc). Matrella is fine in leaf texture, but its leaf blade stiffness is much greater than Latitude 36.”
Latitude 36 offers superior playability with upright growth, allowing the ball to sit up well, and a fine texture leading to faster playing surfaces. It features a dense canopy and has less tendency to scalp than other Bermudagrasses. Wear tolerance and recovery set Latitude 36 apart from Zoysias as well. “Latitude 36 recovers much faster than the matrellas in high traffic situations, making it an ideal choice for sports fields and golf courses,” said Dr Wu.
Besides Zoysia’s problems with recovery, it is also prone to Large Patch disease, commonly referred to as Zoysia Patch. This disease tends to affect large areas of the golf course. It is costly to control and requires multiple applications of pesticides.
Large Patch disease is more pronounced in the transition zone. The most damaging effects happen going into and coming out of the cooler winter months, meaning that a golf course with Large Patch can suffer for several months of the year. Unlike Zoysia Matrella, Latitude 36 very rarely contracts Large Patch disease.
“Over the last 15 years, I have only observed Large Patch on Latitude 36 two times,” said Dr Wu. “Furthermore, the severity of Large Patch disease on Latitude 36 Bermudagrass is much less than many Zoysiagrass cultivars.
“Latitude 36 Bermudagrass recovers from Large Patch disease damage in two to three weeks, unlike some Zoysiagrass cultivars that may need four to eight weeks or even longer.”
Crucial in many of Asia’s tropical regions is Latitude 36’s exceptional disease resistance. Dr Wu said: “Latitude 36 has much improved Spring Dead Spot disease resistance over Tifway  and some older turf Bermudagrass cultivars. Latitude 36 has great potential in Asia.”
Perhaps the most impressive benefit of Latitude 36 is its ability to thrive in a wide range of temperatures from sub-tropical to the transition zone and beyond. “Latitude 36 can be used in transition [zones] and southern climates while matrella is only adapted in southern climates,” said Dr Wu.
Latitude 36 offers superior winter colour retention and early spring green-up for a greener turf longer. The variety has good salt tolerance and moderate shade tolerance.
Demand for Latitude 36 is growing quickly. The variety is featured on several sports fields including Orlando City Soccer Club’s Orlando City Stadium (MLS), FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium (MLS), Purdue University’s Ross-Ade football stadium, Duke University’s Wallace Wade football stadium, Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd football stadium, and Tennessee Titans NFL practice field in Nashville. In the Middle East, Latitude 36 was chosen for Al Sadd Stadium and Khalifa Stadium, both in Doha, Qatar.
Golf courses are also selecting Latitude 36 including the new Jack Nicklaus signature Ashgabat Golf Club in Turkmenistan. In the United States, over 40 golf courses are grassed with Latitude 36, including Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Florida; Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Florida; and TPC at Piper Glen in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Recent golf course renovation projects include Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida by Beau Welling Design, Belfair East in Bluffton, South Carolina, and the North Course at Hunters Run Country Club in Boyton Beach, Florida by Sanford Golf Design.
Latitude 36 Bermudagrass is licensed and certified to ensure that the quality delivered is exactly as promised.
Atlas Turf International is the exclusive provider of Latitude 36 Bermudagrass in Asia with Centaur Asia Pacific being the authorised distributor in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. Genuine Latitude 36 Bermudagrass is only available through Atlas Turf and its current distributors.
Atlas Turf International and Centaur Asia Pacific are both Full Business Members of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.