NC State Extension Publications


A great number of tall fescue cultivars have been tested in North Carolina which provide excellent performance (Carolina Lawns: A Guide to Maintaining Quality Turf in the Landscape) based on cultivar trials. 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.

Recommended lists before 2012 only included cultivars that performed among the top performing cultivars in the last trial. Beginning in 2013 recommended cultivar lists changed to include not only the most recent trial but also trial data going back to 2002 – since many of the older cultivars are still available and would still be good performers in North Carolina. They also included some data from eight other transition zone states to give a better representation of performance across the transition zone. So, a much larger dataset was used and then the two lists were combined to form one grand list (Table 1). While this makes for a long list, hopefully it will make it easier for users to find good-performing tall fescue cultivar across the state.

As previously stated, none of the 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.

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 NC State's recommended cultivars. The higher the percentage, the greater the chances of obtaining a successful turf.


Table 1. The following cultivars performed well in long-term tests conducted between 2002 and 2011, plus some shorter-term testing through 2013. Not all of these cultivars will be available in 2014.
06 Dust 2nd Millennium 3rd Millennium SRP *† Apache III
AST 7001 AST 7002 AST 9001 AST 9002
Avenger Bar Fa Barlexas Barlexas II
Barrera Barrington Barrobusto Barvado
Biltmore Bingo Bizem ** Blackwatch
Blade Runner II Bonsai Braveheart *† Bravo
Bullseye * Cannavaro Catalyst * Cayenne
Cessane Rz Chipper Cochise IV *† Col-1
Constitution Corgi Corona Coyote
Darlington Davinci Desire Dominion
Dynamic Dynasty Endeavor Escalade
Essential Evergreen 2 Faith *† Falcon IV
Falcon NG Falcon V *† Fat Cat * Festnova **
Fidelity Finelawn Elite Finelawn Xpress * Finesse II
Firebird Firecracker LS *† Firenza * Five Point
Focus Forte Garrison * Gazelle II *
GE-1 Gold Medallion Grande 3 Greystone
Greenbrooks Greenkeeper Gremlin Guardian 21
Guardian 41 * Hemi Honky Tonk Hot Rod **
Hunter Inferno Innovator Integrity
J-130 J-140 Jaguar 3 Jamboree *
JT-42 Justice † Kalahari Kitty Hawk 2000
Legitimate Lexington LS 1200 *† LSD **
Magellan Masterpiece Matador Millennium SRP
Monet *† Mustang 4 * Ninja 2 Ol' Glory
Olympic Gold P5G-82BR Padre Patagonia
Pedigree Picasso Piedmont Plantation
Proseeds 5301 Prospect Pure Gold Quest
Raptor II * Rebel Exeda Rebel IV Rebel Sentry
Regenerate ** Regiment II Rembrandt Rendition
Reunion Rhambler 2 SRP *† Riverside RK 4
RK 5 *† RNP Rocket Scorpion
Serengeti Shelby Shenandoah Elite * Shenandoah III *†
Sheridan Sidewinder * Signia Silver Hawk
Silverstar Skyline Solara Southern Choice II
Speedway *† Spyder LS * SR 8550 SR 8650
STR-8BB5 Sunset Gold T31 ** Taccoa
Tahoe II Talladega * Tanzania * Tarheel
Terrano ** Titan ltd Titanium LS Tracer
Traverse SRP * Trio * Tulsa Time Turbo *
Turbo RZ Tuxedo Ultimate Umbrella
Van Gogh * Venture Watchdog Wolfpack II *
* top performing cultivar in region from last 5-year study
† best of the best in Raleigh location from last 5-year study
** based on current NTEP trail, 2013 performance


Crop Science

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Publication date: Sept. 1, 2015

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