© 2009 Plant Management Network.
Selecting Zoysiagrass Cultivars: Turfgrass Quality, Growth, Pest and Environmental Stress Tolerance
Aaron J. Patton, Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Fayetteville, AR 72701
Patton, A. J. 2009. Selecting zoysiagrass cultivars: Turfgrass quality, growth, pest and environmental stress tolerance. Online. Applied Turfgrass Science doi:10.1094/ATS-2009-1019-01-MG.
Zoysiagrass (Zoysia spp. Willd.) is a turfgrass species which has been slowly increasing in use across the United States since it was first introduced either prior to 1895 (24) or in 1902 (15). Japanese lawngrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.) and Manilagrass [Z. matrella (L.) Merr.] are the most commonly used species and in the USA are commonly referred to collectively as zoysiagrass. Zoysia matrella has a narrower leaf compared to Z. japonica, and Z. matrella typically grows more slowly, is less cold-hardy, but is more tolerant to salinity and insect pests.
The first zoysiagrass cultivar, ‘Matrella’ (FC13521), was reportedly received in 1927 (23), but not likely released until the early 1940s based on discussion in the trade journal American Nurseryman (54). Zoysiagrass was immediately popular in the southern United States in the 1940s because few well-adapted species and cultivars for lawns were available (1,22). The release of Matrella was closely followed by the release of ‘Meyer,’ ’Sunburst,’ and ‘Emerald’ (Z. japonica × Z. pacifica) in the 1950s (20,23) (Table 1). Meyer and Emerald quickly became industry standards for zoysiagrass and it was not until the 1980s that many other zoysiagrass cultivars became commercially available (Table 1; Fig. 1).
As of 2006, approximately 16,293 acres of zoysiagrass are planted on golf courses in the United States with 81% of the zoysiagrass being used on golf courses in the transition zone and 18% being used on golf courses in the southeastern United States (28). Although the majority of zoysiagrass is used in the transition zone, its use is increasing in the southeastern United States with the increased availability of cultivars (Fig. 1), especially those that perform well in warmer regions. Of the 38 zoysiagrass cultivars currently used or previously used in the United States (Table 1), 32 were commercially available in 2009. Twenty-nine were released since 1980, 24 were released since 1990, and 15 were released since 2000 (Fig. 1).
There has been a great deal of research on zoysiagrass since 1990. Various environmental stresses including cold temperature (18,32,38) and drought tolerance (4,9,27,60), divot recovery (26,55), salinity tolerance (30,41), shade tolerance (49,53,56), and various biotic stresses including insect resistance (5,6,11,12,25,42,43,44,45,46,48,52), mite resistance (47), disease resistance (31), and nematode resistance (35,51) has been studied for many commonly used zoysiagrass cultivars. Zoysiagrass growth characteristics have also been studied including rooting (29), stolon growth (40), establishment (10,21,40), and clipping yield (57). Additionally, zoysiagrass turf quality, color, density, and texture was documented by previous trials through the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) (32,33,34). However, despite the large body of literature on zoysiagrass, much of this information remains largely unavailable to turfgrass practitioners including golf course superintendents and sod producers. Often, cultivar selection is based solely on local availability of sod and many well-adapted cultivars are not planted in certain environments because of limited availability. Due to the large number of cultivars available and the difficulty in accessing and compiling information about these cultivars, this guide was prepared to aid in the selection of zoysiagrass cultivars by turfgrass practitioners and producers.
Turf quality varies by region for each turfgrass species. Specifically, zoysiagrass turf quality is influenced mostly by differences in texture and density between species with Z. japonica having a coarse leaf texture and less density compared to Z. matrella. In addition to texture and density differences between species, stress tolerance is the other key factor that separates the turf quality of zoysiagrass cultivars.
For example, Meyer has excellent winter hardiness (38) and
thus often performs well in the transition zone and is ranked in the top half of
the cultivars in each of the years tested for turf quality (Table 2) in areas
with cold winters. However, Meyer does not perform well further south and is
ranked near the bottom in turf quality in each of the years tested in the
southern region because of its poor drought and pest tolerance compared to other
cultivars. Some cultivars like Emerald, Zorro, Cavalier, Himeno, Marquis, and
Zeon have good turf quality in both the southern region as well as southern and
central areas of the transition zone. Some cultivars such as Crowne, GN-Z,
Palisades, Royal, and Victoria had improved turf quality in the southern United
compared to the transition zone.
There remains a large group of commercially available cultivars that were never entered into NTEP trials, including ‘BK-7,’ ‘Carrizo,’ ‘Cashmere,’ ‘Empire,’ ‘Empress,’ ‘Marion,’ ‘Matrella,’ ‘Midwest,’ ‘PristineFlora,’ ‘Rollmaster,’ ‘Serene,’ ‘Southern Gem,’ ‘UltimateFlora,’ ‘Y2,’ and ‘ZoyBoy.’ Information about the turf quality of these cultivars is lacking or often limited to locally available anecdotal observations. Some of these cultivars, Carrizo, Marion, PristineFlora, Rollmaster, Serene, Shadowturf, Southern Gem, Y2, and UltimateFlora, were released since 2005 and information is lacking due to their recent release. Shadowturf, released in 2007, is included in the 2007 zoysiagrass NTEP trial along with standards (Zenith, Meyer, and Zorro).
Turf color is likely to have little influence on the selection of a zoysiagrass cultivar for golf course use since the color of zoysiagrass contrasts well with the color of other species such as tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) or bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Rich.] which are often used for golf course roughs in the transition zone and southern United States. Other factors such as pest resistance, stress tolerance, and turf quality are more important and should be weighted as such. However, color could be a decisive factor in the decision between two cultivars with otherwise similar qualities.
Turf color was darkest green for Belair, Emerald, Marquis, Meyer, and Royal in the 1991 NTEP trial (32); Meyer, Emerald, and Zenith in the 1996 NTEP trial (33); and Emerald, Himeno, and Meyer in the 2002 NTEP trial (34) (Table 2). Since color data are only available from NTEP trials, there is a large group of cultivars that lack turf color data.
Differences in growth characteristics are important considerations to make when selecting a zoysiagrass cultivar. Several studies have examined zoysiagrass establishment rates, divot recovery, clipping yield, and leaf texture. Practitioners, especially sod producers, might select zoysiagrass cultivars with fast establishment and recovery rates to help reduce establishment time and increase revenue. Conversely, choosing a cultivar with a slow growth rate could be beneficial for use around cart paths, bunker faces, putting greens, flower beds, and other areas where encroachment is a concern.
Patton et al. (40) examined the establishment rate of several
zoysiagrass cultivars in Indiana and found that Z. japonica cultivars
have faster establishment rates than Z. matrella cultivars. Quick
establishment rates were attributed to cultivars capable of producing long
stolons with high growth rates. Stolon growth rate was greater than the mean for
El Toro, Chinese Common, and Palisades and less than the mean for Diamond,
Empress, and Emerald (Table 3). Patton et al. (40) reported that El Toro and
Palisades had the highest coverage among commercially available Z. japonica
cultivars 91 days after planting (Table 3). Zorro had the highest coverage and
Diamond the lowest coverage among Z. matrella cultivars. Hall et al. (21)
monitored the establishment of zoysiagrass cultivars in Texas and found that
Crowne, El Toro, and Palisades were the quickest to establish, while Emerald was
slowest. Dunn (10) monitored the establishment of zoysiagrass in Missouri and
reported that El Toro and ZoyBoy established quickly while Emerald was slow to
Divot recovery research examines recovery of mature turf from rhizomes and stolons, whereas establishment rate research (above) focuses on the growth of new swards, which occurs primarily from stolons. Karcher et al. (26) examined divot recovery of zoysiagrass in 2003 and 2004. They reported that Cavalier, Crowne, El Toro, GN-Z, Palisades, Zenith, and Zorro had the fastest recovery from divot injury whereas Compadre, Emerald, Himeno, and Meyer had the slowest recovery from divoting in 2003 (Table 3). In 2004, Cavalier, Chinese Common, Compadre, Crowne, Himeno, Palisades, Zenith, and Zorro were among the quickest to recover after divoting and El Toro, Emerald, GN-Z, and Meyer were among the slowest to recover after divoting. Trappe et al. (55) also examined divot recovery among zoysiagrass cultivars and reported that El Toro, Palisades, and Zorro recovered quickly while Cavalier, Diamond, Meyer, and Zenith recovered slowly. Data from both groups of researchers agree that El Toro, Palisades, and Zorro are quick to recover from divot injury and that Meyer is slow to recover from divot injury.
Often perceived as a disadvantage, an advantage of zoysiagrass over bermudagrass is that it grows more slowly, it is less likely to encroach into putting greens, and it requires less trimming around cart paths and bunkers. A reduced clipping yield compared to bermudagrass is another benefit of zoysiagrass (57). Within zoysiagrass, Cavalier, Meyer, and Zorro have lower clipping yields than bermudagrass, with El Toro and Palisades having clippings yields similar to bermudagrass (57) (Table 3). The advantage of a cultivar with low clipping yield is that it will require less frequent mowing and less plant growth regulator use.
Zoysia japonica has wider leaves (> 2 mm) than Z. matrella (< 2 mm) (2). Belair, Chinese Common, Compadre, Crowne, El Toro, Empire, Himeno, JaMur, Palisades, and Zenith are among the coarsest textured (widest leaved) zoysiagrass cultivars based on published reports (32,33,34). Cavalier, Diamond, Emerald, Royal, Zeon, and Zorro are among the narrowest leaved cultivars (32,33,34) (Table 3). Carrizo, DeAnza, Empress, GN-Z, Meyer, Y2, and Victoria are among a group with intermediate leaf texture (32,33,34). The leaf texture of other cultivars is not reported in the literature, but Cashmere, Matrella, PristineFlora, Rollmaster, and Shadowturf are fine textured; Marion, Marquis, Serene, Southern Gem, and UltimateFlora have intermediate leaf texture; Midwest and Sunburst are coarse textured. Among all the cultivars, Diamond, Pristine, and Cashmere are the most fine textured.
Many commercially available Z. japonica cultivars are not a single species as classified by their leaf texture, but instead are interspecific hybrids (13). Cultivars such as Victoria, El Toro, and Palisades are likely crosses of Z. japonica with Z. matrella (2,14,19), but are classified as Z. japonica because of their predominant morphological characteristics. Other cultivars such as Empress, GN-Z, and DeAnza are also likely interspecific hybrids because of their intermediate leaf texture.
One of the key reasons that zoysiagrass gained popularity since the 1950s was the ability of Meyer zoysiagrass to survive winters in the transition zone as well as its adaptation to a wide range of locations (20). Researchers across the transition zone have examined the ability of zoysiagrass to survive winters in the field or cold temperatures in the laboratory. In general Z. japonica cultivars are more winter hardy than Z. matrella (38), and seeded Z. japonica cultivars are more winter hardy than vegetatively established cultivars (38). However, there is great variability in winter hardiness among these genetically unique cultivars.
Belair, Chinese common, Midwest, Sunburst, and Zenith have winter hardiness similar to Meyer (Table 4) and these are the only cultivars recommended for use in northern fringes of the transition zone or in areas north of the transition zone (10,18,32,38,50). DeAnza, Diamond, Empress, JaMur, and Victoria are the least winter hardy and should only be used in areas south of the transition zone (18,38). The winter hardiness of Cashmere is also reported as poor (59). A large group of cultivars are grouped as having intermediate winter hardiness including Carrizo, Cavalier, Compadre, Crowne, El Toro, GN-Z, Himeno, Marquis, Omni, Palisades, Royal, Zeon, and Zorro (10,18,32,38). Cultivars with intermediate winter hardiness are generally considered safe to use in central and southern areas of the transition zone. The winter hardiness of many other cultivars, including BK-7, Cashmere, Empire, Marion, Matrella, PristineFlora, Rollmaster, Serene, Shadowturf, Southern Gem, UltimateFlora, Y2, and ZoyBoy, remains largely unknown.
Environmental Stress Tolerance
Drought tolerance and water use are becoming increasingly important in the USA in light of increased urbanization, recent droughts, water shortages, and water restrictions. Zoysiagrass is classified as being less drought resistant than bermudagrass (3). Among zoysiagrass cultivars there are differences in irrigation requirement, rooting depth, and leaf firing.
The amount of irrigation required to prevent water stress (wilting)
was studied in Dallas, TX, by White et al. (60). In addition to an average annual
rainfall of 1118 mm, White et al. (60) reported that El Toro, Palisades, and
Crowne required the least supplemental irrigation (< 149 mm); Meyer required 282
mm of supplemental irrigation; and Diamond, Matrella, Emerald, Zorro, and
Cavalier required the most supplemental irrigation (> 360 mm) (Table 5).
Plants are known to tolerate drought by enhancing water uptake through increased rooting depth, which prolongs the need for supplemental irrigation. Using root tubes and controlled growing conditions, Marcum et al. (29) documented that Belair, Crowne, El Toro, Emerald, Marquis, Meyer, and Palisades were among the cultivars with the highest average maximum rooting depth (AMRD) (> 295 mm), while Cavalier, Diamond, Royal, and Sunburst had the lowest AMRD (< 256 mm) (Table 5). They also found that the AMRD was related to survival under severe (0% ET) and moderate (35% ET) drought stress (29), indicating that zoysiagrasses tolerate drought by maintaining high tissue water potential through deep rooting.
Turfgrass has a number of functional roles including evaporative cooling, air pollution mitigation, and athlete safety among others. However, the ability of turf to maintain these functions is minimized during drought. One common method that is used to measure interspecific differences in response to drought is leaf firing (green turf color retention). Kim et al. (27) reported that Meyer had high leaf firing (> 50%) or low green color retention during drought in College Station, TX, and that El Toro, Emerald, and Matrella had low leaf firing (< 10%) or high green color retention during drought (Table 5). In a follow-up field study, Beard and Sifers (4) reported that Matrella and Diamond had less than 20% leaf firing when average across three dates (60, 90, and 120 days of drought stress) in College Station, TX, while Belair, El Toro, and Meyer had more than 40% leaf firing during the same period. More recently, drought tolerance was evaluated in San Antonio, TX (9). Leaf firing after 20 days of drought in 2006 was lowest among Cavalier, El Toro, Emerald, Empire, JaMur, Palisades, and Zeon and highest among Y2 and Zorro. Leaf firing after 30 days of drought in 2007 was lowest among Y2, Cavalier, El Toro, Emerald, Empire, JaMur, and Palisades and highest among Zeon and Zorro. As illustrated by these reports, choosing a drought tolerant cultivar will help reduce water use while simultaneously improving turfgrass performance and aesthetic quality.
With decreasing freshwater sources for turfgrass irrigation becoming more limited, the use of low-quality recycled water sources is becoming more common. Zoysiagrass is classified as being moderately tolerant to salinity stress with significant differences among cultivars (3). Similar to drought tolerance, leaf firing measurements (green turf color retention) are often used as a measurement of salinity tolerance. Marcum et al. (30) reported that Z. matrella cultivars were more tolerant to salinity than Z. japonica cultivars. Among cultivars, Diamond is the most tolerant to salinity; Cavalier, Crowne, DeAnza, El Toro, Emerald, JaMur, Marquis, Palisades, Royal, and Victoria have intermediate salinity tolerance; and Belair, Meyer, Omni, Sunburst, and Zeon are the least tolerant to salinity (30,41) (Table 5).
Another common environmental stress of turfgrass is shade. Zoysiagrasses are generally considered to have good shade tolerance (3). The most comprehensive study to date on the shade tolerance of zoysiagrass was completed in Dallas, TX, under 90% shade from southern live-oak (Quercus virginiana Mill.) by Riffell et al. (49). Cultivars were assigned a turf performance index (TPI) value of 1 each time they appeared in the top statistical grouping when rated for coverage, quality, color, and density and a value of 0 when not in the top statistical group. There were a total of 38 evaluations in this study with a maximum TPI of 38. Diamond had the highest TPI (TPI = 34); followed by Zorro (TPI = 33); Crowne, Palisades, Royal, Emerald, and Marquis (TPI = 31); Cavalier (TPI = 28); El Toro (TPI = 25); and Sunburst (TPI = 22) (49) (Table 5). Belair and Meyer had the poorest shade tolerance (TPI = 16) and were in the top statistical category less than 43% of evaluations (49). Others have also looked at the shade tolerance of zoysiagrass. A greenhouse study evaluated four zoysiagrass cultivars under 90% simulated shade and found Diamond and Shadowturf to have good tolerance to shade with Meyer and Zorro performing poorly in shade (53). Trappe et al. (56) reported that Cavalier, Diamond, El Toro, Palisades, and Zorro all performed well in 50% shade; Meyer performed fair; and Zenith performed poorly. All zoysiagrasses do not grow equally in shade. Selecting shade tolerant cultivars will improve playing conditions while also decreasing reestablishment costs.
Turfgrass resistance or tolerance to pests including insects,
mites, nematodes, and disease can have a beneficial effect on turfgrass growth
as well as the overall reduction of maintenance inputs. Identifying resistant
cultivars and using them when available should be a first priority of any pest
control program. Table 6 provides a summary of the zoysiagrass
resistance/susceptibility ratings for various pests.
Numerous caterpillars feed on turfgrass: fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith) and tropical sod webworm (TSW) (Herpetogramma phaeopteralis Guenée) are among the most injurious to zoysiagrass. The fall armyworm is distributed throughout the majority of the United States, whereas the TSW is mainly distributed from Texas to Georgia. Crowne, Meyer, Palisades, and Royal are moderately susceptible to fall armyworm feeding, while Belair, Diamond, El Toro, and Emerald are moderately resistant to fall armyworm feeding (5,44,46,48) (Table 6). Meyer is highly susceptible to TSW feeding; Belair, Crowne, Diamond, Emerald, Marquis, Royal, and Sunburst are moderately susceptible to TSW feeding; and El Toro and Palisades are moderately resistant to TSW feeding (43,45). Cavalier and Zorro are both highly resistant to fall armyworm and TSW feeding (5,43,44,45,46,48).
The zoysiagrass mite (Eriophyes zoysiae Baker, Kono, and O‘Neill) is becoming a more widespread problem on zoysiagrass since its introduction into the United States in the 1980s. Among the zoysiagrass cultivars, Belair, Cavalier, Diamond, and Meyer are highly susceptible; Palisades is moderately susceptible; Crowne, El Toro, and Marquis are moderately resistant; and Emerald, and Royal are highly resistant to zoysiagrass mite (47) (Table 6).
Mole crickets are serious pests of warm-season turfgrasses including zoysiagrass from the southeastern United States to Texas. The tawny mole cricket (Scapteriscus vicinus Scudder) is particularly problematic in areas where zoysiagrass is grown. Among the cultivars, Meyer is highly susceptible; Crowne, El Toro, and Royal are moderately susceptible; and Cavalier, Diamond, Emerald, and Palisades are moderately resistant to tawny mole cricket injury (6).
One of four common chinch bug pests of turfgrass, the western chinch bug (Blissus occiduus Barber) is a pest of zoysiagrass in addition to buffalograss, especially in Nebraska (11). Overall, zoysiagrasses are classified as being moderately susceptible to western chinch bug feeding: Buffalograss is classified as being highly susceptible to western chinch bug feeding (11). Among zoysiagrass cultivars, Crowne, Meyer, and Zenith are moderately susceptible to highly susceptible; DeAnza is moderately susceptible; Cavalier, El Toro, Palisades, and Royal are moderately resistant to moderately susceptible; Diamond, Emerald, and Zorro are moderately resistant to western chinch bug feeding (12).
The two-lined spittlebug (Prosapia bicincta Say) is typically more problematic on centipedegrass turf in the southeastern United States, but recently has been causing problems to zoysiagrass turf as far west as Arkansas. Crowne is moderately susceptible to the two-lined spittle bug, while Cavalier, Diamond, El Toro, Emerald, Palisades, and Royal are moderately resistant (52).
Billbugs cause turf damage that is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized. The hunting billbug (Sphenophorus venatus vestitus Chittenden) has proven to be a formidable pest of zoysiagrass sod farms, lawns, and golf course turf and its incidence is increasing (42). Zoysia matrella cultivars are more resistant to hunting billbug feeding than Z. japonica [(25), J. A. Reinert, personal communication, 2007]. Among the cultivars, Meyer and Zenith are the most susceptible; Belair, Cashmere, Compadre, Crowne, DeAnza, El Toro, JaMur, Palisades, are susceptible; Cavalier and Diamond are moderately resistant; and Emerald, PristineFlora, Royal, UltimateFlora, Zeon, and Zorro are resistant to hunting billbug feeding [(25,42), J. A. Reinert, personal communication, 2007].
The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) (RIFA) continues to expand its areas of distribution and it is becoming more problematic as each year passes. This pest does not feed on turf but does construct mounds that are problematic for maintenance and problematic for golfers due to their sting. Increasing irrigation and lowering mowing heights are two options to help reduce RIFA mound construction and colonization [(8), J. A. Reinert, unpublished data]. Additionally, Crowne, Palisades, and El Toro are susceptible to colonization; Cavalier is moderately resistant/susceptible to colonization; and DeAnza is resistant to RIFA colonization.
Nematodes are also a damaging pest of zoysiagrass. Although there are many species of nematodes, root-knot nematodes [Meloidogyne graminis Sledge & Golden) Whitehead], and sting nematodes (Belonolaimus longicaudatus Rau) are reported as problematic in zoysiagrass (7,35). Matrella and Meyer are classified as very susceptible to root-knot nematode while Emerald and Midwest are classified as susceptible to root-knot nematode (35). Cavalier, Emerald, and Empire are all susceptible to sting nematode and Meyer is reported as very susceptible (7,51).
An important constraint to more widespread use of zoysiagrass is large patch disease (Rhizoctonia solani Kühn). This pathogen infects zoysiagrass grown in the transition zone and is sometime problematic in the southeastern United States. Large patch will not completely kill zoysiagrass, but causes considerable thinning leading to encroachment of bermudagrass and other weeds. This decreases performance and increases maintenance costs. Cavalier, Meyer, and Zorro are thought to be moderately resistant; Diamond and Marquis are moderately susceptible; and Belair, Crowne, El Toro, Emerald, Omni, Palisades, and Sunburst are highly susceptible to large patch (31). Dollar spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa F.T. Bennett), take-all root rot [Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis (Sacc.) Arx & D.L. Olivier], and fairy ring (multiple soil-inhabiting basidiomycete spp.) are other common diseases of zoysiagrass, but there are no reports of resistance among zoysiagrass cultivars to these diseases.
The greatest difficulty in producing this guide is not in collecting, assembling, or interpreting the information about a particular cultivar, but in deciding how to report the attributes of a cultivar with little available research or anecdotal information. There is no "author’s pick" or "best selection" since each region or site specific location has different requirements and because practitioner preferences vary. However, there are cultivars in each region that perform well due to their quality, growth, and tolerance to one or more abiotic or biotic stresses. In areas north of the transition zone, such as Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, or Maryland, the cultivars Belair, Chinese Common, Meyer, or Zenith should be used (Fig. 2). Cavalier, Emerald, El Toro, Himeno, Meyer, Zenith, Zeon, or Zorro zoysiagrass should be used in transition zone states such as Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. In other states, such as Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, the cultivars Cashmere, Cavalier, Crowne, Diamond, Emerald, El Toro, Empire, GN-Z, JaMur, Palisades, PristineFlora, Shadowturf, UltimateFlora, Zeon, Zorro, or ZoyBoy should be used. Drought and/or salinity tolerant cultivars should be used in the southwest USA in states such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas. There are other cultivars which may perform well in these regions, but information on their performance is restricted to locally available anecdotal observations either due to their recent release or limited marketing and distribution.
Practitioners in states with diverse climates, such as California and Hawaii, should choose a cultivar based on their local climate. Additionally, cultivar recommendations in each state vary by location. For example, a cultivar well-adapted to Mobile (southern Alabama) may not be well-adapted for use in Huntsville (northern Alabama).
As stated earlier, your choice in cultivar will likely be greatly limited to local availability. For example, in Arkansas, Meyer is the predominant cultivar sold (39) whereas Empire is the predominant cultivar sold in Florida (16). In both respective states, at least 25 sod producers grow these respective cultivars. In other states like Texas, Cavalier, El Toro, Emerald, Empire, and Palisades zoysiagrass are readily available from six or more sod producers with at least seven other cultivars available from one or more sod producers (58). Similarly in North Carolina, Emerald, Empire, and Meyer are readily available from five or more sod producers with at least eight other cultivars available from one or more sod producers (36). Cultivar availability may be further limited to large acreage sod farms or sod farms growing golf course quality sod depending on the quantity and quality of turf needed. Not all practitioners will be able to purchase the cultivar they desire in their state or region or have the funds necessary to purchase sod out-of-state. Therefore, be prepared to select a well-adapted cultivar that is also regionally or locally available.
This publication merely serves as a guide to help in assembling information in order to select the best zoysiagrass cultivar for your particular location. As new data becomes available, it too should be used in conjunction with this publication to aid in selecting cultivars. Regardless of location, practitioners and producers should vet the cultivar they have selected prior to purchasing and planting by interviewing and visiting others currently growing the same cultivar in their region.
I thank Drs. Mike Richardson, University of Arkansas, Kevin Kenworthy, University of Florida, and James Reinert, Texas A&M System, AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solutions Center at Dallas, for providing a review of this manuscript and helpful suggestions on its development. I thank Drs. Ali Harivandi and Bernd Leinauer, University of California Cooperative Extension Service and New Mexico State University, respectively, for their assistance in developing Fig. 2.
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