GTI Grow-in Update - Part 1
Last Monday (August 27th) marked the first day of the grow-in at the new site of the GTI. It goes without saying that this was a very exciting milestone for this project, the GTI team, our current donors and the various industry stakeholders and partners that make up our unique institution. The new location will introduce state of the art infrastructure and research plots to help usher in a new era of turfgrass research, service, education, and innovation in Ontario. We are particularly happy to announce that the Cutten Fields Turf team agreed to manage the grow-in, which for us was like winning the lottery! Bill Green, Superintendent at Cutten Fields is a tremendously talented grass grower and his skilled crew of all-star turfies are more than up for the challenge. The silver lining to this agreement is that many of Bill’s key staff are graduates of the U of G turf program. We are already seeing the benefits of having an industry professional manage this portion of the project. Bill’s team has not only helped sort out some logistics planning for the project on site, they have also helped worked out a few kinks related to the irrigation system and water supply. Bill’s real-world experience with grow-ins, agronomic aptitude, leadership and patience make him a wonderful person to work with. We couldn’t be happier with this partnership and look forward to working closely with our new neighbours on future projects.
The seeding began last Monday in conjunction with the scheduled greens aeration at Cutten Fields. Two of the most Westerly research plots were planned to be poa annua based greens. The larger of the two is a native root zone and it will be propagated entirely through Cutten Fields aeration cores. These cores are predominantly poa annua but have mixed varieties of bent as well. The cores were collected and dumped on the new plots where they were spread out evenly by rake, then fertilized, rolled and watered. The second poa plot which is smaller and divided into two different root zones (native and sand based) was done at the same time. On this plot the two different root zones were overseeded with T-1 on one side and Penncross on the other (this was divided perpendicularly so each seed treatment touches both rootzones). By Friday morning, 4.5 days later, the T-1 had already started germinating. If you have ever grown-in anything, it is hard not to feel a wee bit giddy when the first seed starts to pop!
Nick Berdusco and Matt Hague are Bill’s onsite turf guru’s watching over each blade of grass. Both are graduates of the DTM program here at the U of G - so we know we are in good hands! Matt and Nick are diligent, passionate employees who to date have done an excellent job of keeping the soil moist for seed germination as well as managing all the hand watering detail needed for the sod which frames all the plots. On Bill’s request, they have also begun installing PVC pipe cutouts throughout the plots to permanently secure the locations of the corners, various seed treatments and soil root zone division lines. Ingeniously, metal t-bar was hammered into the PVC tubes so they can be located easily as the turf takes over.
As it stands, we are now almost 2 weeks into the grow-in. The first round of seed has been sown and the majority of the plots have begun germinating. One variety of particular interest was the L93-XD. Thanks to the heat wave we experienced last weekend, this seed germinated in 4 days and is well ahead of every other bent variety seeded at the same time (photo on title screen denotes the fifth day after seeding - L93-XD on the left and Flagstick on the right). Other bents included in the seed plan are Pure Distinction, V8, Focus, 007, T-1, and Penncross. The eventual goal is to maintain the plots at a variety of different heights so guests and visitors can compare and contrast performance, densities, colours, thatch production and other traits through a variety of growing mediums and heights of cut.
Stay tuned for photos, updates, and other details. Be sure to follow our Twitter account and Instagram accounts (@GuelphTurf) which have been photo chronicling the project since day 1.
Yours in turf,
The GTI team