Friday, April 11, 2014

What is the difference between Poa and Bentgrass?

Some ask what is the big deal between Poa annua and Bentgrass?  Both grasses are found on golf courses and both seem to be good grasses for greens, right?  There are very distinct differences a few are:

Poa annua- likes; does better in shade and wet areas.  Dislikes: Heat, Cold and prone to disease.  There is more, but that is the basics.  Nobody purchases poa seed for greens.

Bentgrass - likes: sun, heat, cold.  Dislikes: shade and poor draining areas.  Can handle more stress has less diseases and new varieties are well suited for golf courses.  The new varieties are far better than the old ones.  Breading work is done on bent, not poa.

Ok, bent is better - why do we have poa?   Poa is very good at moving into environments that bent does not do well in.  It produces lots of seeds at green height (another issue with why poa is bad for golfers and ball roll), bent does not seed (at green height).

Many courses are now converting older greens to bent.  They have to first address the two pit falls of bent - shade and drainage.  At Biltmore we have addressed the drainage issue, but not entirely the shade issue.  We work towards bentgrass, but sometimes you just need to start fresh and when you do the results are dramatic.

The next time someone says - whats the big deal between poa and bent take a look at #10 or #13 green and compare it to the others, there is a BIG difference.

What's wrong with this green?  Nothing!  A pure bent green (007), no covers were ever used and even though the green is less than 1 year old it came through the winter in perfect condition.  Why would you not want all your greens to be like this, I know I do!  It costs less to maintain and performs far better than an old poa green.

#17 green showing what a poa / bent green can look like after being affected by ice.  Some of the green is bent but some is poa - anything that is brown is poa.  It will recover in time and become more bent but it is a slow process without starting fresh.  We will fix the damage and in a few weeks memories will fade, but we need to always think about how nice it would be to have all bent greens, because there is a difference.