ProVista Kentucky Bluegrass Cuts Mowing Requirement in Half
ProVista Kentucky Bluegrass are new cultivars that have been bred with two novel traits: half the mowing requirement and complete weed control. Exactly how were these cultivars developed that only need mowing twice a month plus complete weed control? Both novel traits were developed through transformation via gene bombardment techniques. For the value-added mowing trait, an overexpression of the gibberellin (GA) 2-oxidase reduces functional GA levels in the plant resulting in a reduced height phenotype. For the complete weed control trait, a modified enzyme 5-enolpyruvyl-3-phosphoshikimate synthase (EPSPS) transgene confers glyphosate tolerance.
To put the half-as-much mowing claim to the test, Dr. Fidanza at Penn State University conducted a research trial with the primary objective to quantify the required number of mowing events of PV compared to various standard turfgrass blends and mixes. Dr. Fidanza’s results are published in Crop, Forage and Turfgrass Management (a peer-reviewed journal article). There were 20 entries in the research trial: 4 PV cultivars and various Kentucky bluegrass blends, tall fescue blends, or mixtures containing predominantly perennial ryegrass or the previously two mentioned species. Four cultivars in the top statistical group over the 2-year research period were the PV cultivars averaging ≤ 21 mowing events, while the other turfgrasses averaged ≥ 41 mowing events. All other turfgrasses were statistically similar regarding mowing events across all seasons. Mowing data in this field research trial confirms the GA-2-oxidase overexpression resulted in PV cultivars requiring half as much mowing compared to the other standard entries.
What segment of the market is ProVista technology suitable for? Based on market data, this technology can solve challenges across many different segments of the industry. For example, in a 2021 survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, a strategic initiative in landscape designs is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, eliminating high-maintenance lawns was a strategy identified that would reduce the reliance of fossil-fuel-powered lawn mowers, blowers, edgers, and string trimmers. Labor is another major challenge across multiple segments of the industry, including lawn care operators and golf course superintendents. For lawn care operators, in a 2022 Landscaping Industry Trends Report, 84% of respondents struggled to find qualified labor. For golf course superintendents, in a 2022 nationwide capital and budget survey conducted by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, 63% of respondents described the labor market for general staff members as very bad or bad, while only 9% described the labor market as very good or good. Utilizing ProVista genetics that cuts mowing requirements in half helps ease environmental concerns and labor challenges to many different segments of the industry.
ProVista technology represents new turfgrass genetics with the novel traits of reduced mowing and herbicide tolerance. Turfgrasses are an integral part of society and offer many environmental, functional, and aesthetic benefits. However, turfgrasses require the labor-intensive practice of frequent mowing in order to provide the benefits previously described. The benefits of PV to the industry are numerous, which include complete grassy weed control, reduced mower emission, noise, and use, as well as flexibility in labor allocation for turfgrass practitioners since mowing frequency can be extended.
Christian Baldwin, Ph.D.
ProVista Business Development Manager