Published on 04/26/17

UGA-Tifton set to host annual turf conference

By Clint Thompson

The 71st annual Southeastern Turfgrass Conference will be held on Tuesday, May 16, at the Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia.

The conference will focus on plant breeding, fertilizer and herbicide management, and will feature researchers from five universities, according to Brian Schwartz, turfgrass breeder on the University of Georgia Tifton campus.

“Every year the turfgrass conference brings together some of the top researchers in the South, who discuss their findings. This year is no different. We are expecting at least 30 different scientists to be in attendance to discuss topics such as turfgrass varieties, computing irrigation requirements for turfgrasses and how to establish insect pest management strategies for Georgia citrus,” Schwartz said.

The response of grasses to the unseasonably warm temperatures over the winter is expected to be a major topic of discussion. 

“We had an early spring green-up in our grasses and plants due to the very warm and mild winter, and then we had a frost. It’s been hard on some varieties, but some of our newer varieties seem to have handled it OK,” Schwartz said. “One of the challenges this year will be for those people who got out early and fertilized. In places like Tifton, Georgia, they might be OK, but up north (Georgia), they might have done it too early.”

Turfgrass that was fertilized prematurely may have died back temporarily when freezing temperatures moved through the South in early April. Schwartz said in extreme cases, the turf would die entirely and have to grow back in from the sides over the course of the rest of this year.

Last year, the release of UGA’s new turf cultivar, ‘TifTuf,’ generated much discussion at the event. Schwartz said that as many as 35 growers across the United States are using the new variety, and five more are going to sign on to grow it this spring.

Sod growers tell Schwartz they like ‘TifTuf’ because it’s easier to grow and uses less water.

This year’s conference will begin at 8 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m. An optional field tour of turfgrass research plots will be held after the conference.

For more information or to register for the event, go to or call 229-386-3416.

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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