NC State Extension Publications


A great number of tall fescue and bluegrass cultivars have been tested in North Carolina which provide excellent performance based on cultivar trials. The 2014 Recommended Kentucky Bluegrass Cultivars for North Carolina, 2014 Recommended Tall Fescue Cultivars for North Carolina, and 2016 Recommended Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass Cultivars for North Carolina lists contain many great cultivars that still should perform well in North Carolina. Many of these cultivars are still being sold in grass seed products and would be expected to perform very well in North Carolina assuming they are properly established and maintained. The lists are long, but that makes it easier for users to find good-performing tall fescue and bluegrass cultivar across the state.

While Kentucky bluegrass cultivars do not enjoy the same level of success in North Carolina as they do further north, there are still some great cultivars that can be managed as a nice turf either as a monostand or planted as a mixture with tall fescue cultivars. Also, the Kentucky bluegrasses generally perform better in western North Carolina than they do on the piedmont.

The approach for this year’s list was to highlight the great cultivars we tested the last few years in NTEP, A-LIST, regional, and sponsored trials.

None of the tall fescue cultivars in our tests have been completely resistant to brown patch (Rhizoctonia spp.). Using appropriate management practices remains the primary means of reducing injury from this disease. Kentucky 31 (K-31), is a coarse bladed, upright tall fescue that usually produces lower density and the lowest quality ratings in the North Carolina field trials. Using appropriate management practices remains the primary means of reducing injury from this disease. Generally Kentucky bluegrass cultivars are susceptible to summer patch when grown in Raleigh which can be difficult to manage most years without the use of fungicides.

Keep in mind that companies often blend multiple cultivars together for sale in the retail market but use a simple Name Brand to enhance brand recognition. The combination of grasses is often recommended since there is no one grass that will perform well under all conditions. So when shopping for tall fescue seed, the name on the front of the bag may not represent or identify the cultivars that make up the product. To add to the confusion, the cultivars and/or the percentage of each cultivar within the bag of a Name Brand may change from year to year but the Name Brand often remains unchanged. Again, this is done for brand recognition. Under close inspection, however, the bags are required to list the cultivar(s) and the percentage of each cultivar by weight within the bag. Customers often ask about matching our recommended cultivars to those listed on the bag seed label. Unfortunately, it may not be easy to find a bag that contains only cultivars from our recommended lists. It is suggested, however, that at least 50% of the contents consist of NCSU’s high-performing cultivars. The higher the percentage, the greater the chances of obtaining/maintaining a quality turf.

Table 1. The following tall fescue cultivars performed well in tests conducted between 2013 and 2016. These tests included the current NTEP study, regional trial, A-LIST trials, and a sponsored trial. Not all of these cultivars will be available in 2017.
07 Dust Fayette Rebounder
07Walk Fesnova Regenerate
4th Millennium SRP Firebird 2 Rhambler 2 SRP
Amity Firecracker SLS Rhizing Moon
Aquaduct Firewall Rowdy
AST 5112 Foxhound Rockwell
AST 1736 Golconda Saltillo
ATF 1612 Grande 3 Screamer LS
ATF 1704 GTO Supersonic
Avenger II Hemi Swagger
Bizem Hot Rod Tara
Black Tail Houndog8 Technique
Bloodhound Hover Temple
Bullseye IS-TF 311 Temptation
Caesar Kingdom Terrano
Catalyst Leonardo Thor
Crossfire 4 Maestro Thunderstruck
Dakota Memphis Titanium 2LS
DTT 43 Michelangelo Traverse 2 SRP
Dynamite SLS QS Paramount Turfway
Embrace Rain Dance Valkyrie LS
Escalade Reflection Xtender
Falcon V Raptor III
Faith Rebel IV

Table 2. The following Kentucky bluegrass cultivars performed well in tests conducted between 2012 and 2016, with particular attention to 2016 data. Not all of these cultivars will be available in 2017.
Aramintha Blue Note NuChicago
Avid Cabernet Skye
Award Keeneland Sudden Impact
Baron Legend Thermal Blue
Barvette HGT Mazama Zedor
Blackjack Merlot
Bluebank Midnight

Table 3. The following fine fescue cultivars performed well in full-sun tests conducted between 2014 and 2016, with particular attention to 2016 data. Not all of these cultivars will be available in 2017.
Cascade Minimus RAD-FC44
Kent Navigator II RAD-FR47
Marvel Radar


Crop and Soil Sciences

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Publication date: Aug. 23, 2017

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