NFL’s Washington Redskins installing OSU developed turfgrass on home fieldSat, 11 May 2013 06:31:52 CDT
When the NFL’s Washington Redskins open their home season this fall, they will do so on a new playing surface sodded with an award-winning turf bermudagrass created by researchers at Oklahoma State University. The team announced in April it will install OSU’s Latitude 36 at FedEx Field in June.
“The NFL is the ultimate for any football player so we are delighted that a bermudagrass created by OSU experts has reached this pinnacle of success,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “The NFL also is the ultimate test of a turf’s durability and we’re confident the Washington Redskins will be pleased with the performance of Latitude 36.” FedEx Field becomes the first NFL field to showcase Latitude 36. The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens also have installed the new variety on two practice fields, and the University of Virginia and Bradley University home football fields are sodded with Latitude 36 as well. The grass is ideal for use in parts of the eastern, western and southern United States for sports fields, golf course fairways/tee boxes, commercial grounds and residential lawns, in part, because of its excellent tolerance for traffic and recuperation rate once it is damaged. It has improved cold hardiness and excellent color, texture, density and uniformity.
The fact that Latitude 36 is gaining notice nationally is a good indication researchers did their jobs well, said Dennis Martin, OSU Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist and one of the five OSU researchers credited with the development of the new grass. “It’s very important the intended audience is confident enough to install and use Latitude 36. That means that not only did we do our job and assess the market correctly, but also that the market is accepting the product,” Martin said. “If anything had gone wrong along the way, the process could have fallen apart. It’s very important to us that the product got to this point and it appears everything is going well.”
Latitude 36 was intensively tested for seven years internally at the university before entering a national testing phase. The grass then underwent rigorous independent evaluation by researchers at land-grant universities across the southern United States and the central transition zone through the renowned National Turf Evaluation Program (NTEP). At the conclusion of the 2007-2012 NTEP trials, Latitude 36 claimed overall top honors in the national bermudagrass test, beating out many strong competitors, including several others produced by OSU.
Latitude 36 will return in the 2013-2018 NTEP trials as a standard for top-notch quality and performance. Initial sales of Latitude 36 began last year after its release in 2010. Nine outlets across the nation, including two in Oklahoma, are currently licensed to produce the grass through OSU’s licensing firm Sod Solutions. Because it takes three to five years to gear up the production of the variety, Martin anticipates the list of facilities using Latitude 36 is only beginning to expand, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region of the country. Oklahoma-based producers of Latitude 36 are still building their supply, but will soon offer the product as well.
“Latitude 36 is another in a long line of high quality products developed by our outstanding turfgrass research program at OSU,” said Mike Woods, interim vice president, dean and director of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
“The program has a strong history of success as evidenced by the high profile national and international venues that use its products. We’re proud of these accomplishments and look forward to continued cutting-edge research.” Riviera, a previously released OSU seeded bermudagrass, was used on two baseball fields at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Another OSU variety, Patriot, is installed at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, the Indianapolis Colts’ practice field, the Purdue University football field and the Chesapeake Energy Green Roof Sports field in Oklahoma City.
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