Here in southern Wisconsin we’ve only received 0.14″ of rain in June, and the month is already half over. Any part of the yard that I do not irrigate (basically, anything not around the BTEP plot, my vegetable garden, young fruit orchard, or small reno patch from last fall), is now dormant.

I did let the BTEP go longer than usual without irrigation, to get an initial sense of the more drought-resistant cultivars. This is far from scientific, and all cultivars showed at least some level of drought stress, but there were three cultivars that looked significantly better than the rest. They are:

1. Bedazzled
2. Moonbeam
3. Blueberry

Interestingly enough, the one cultivar that specifically markets itself as a water miser, Diva, looked like one of the most stressed.

It looks like we will be getting some rain over the next couple of days. I will continue to monitor drought tolerance throughout the summer. Maybe the results will be different next time.

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Here is an updated composite photo of the BTEP. I took photos from about 3 feet above each plot, using the same manual camera settings throughout. I think you can really see the differences in color, density, disease pressure and blade width.

Regarding disease, Midnight Star, Blue Velvet, and Midnight had Powdery Mildew. I treated it with an organic product called Organocide and the PM has seemed to have cleared up, but visible damage still remains. You will also notice that most cultivars are suffering from the “brown blades down low” problem that many Bestlawn members are experiencing. The cultivars that seem to be avoiding the “BBDL” issue are the Compacts Bewitched, Blueberry and Moonbeam, Compact America Boutique and to a certain extent Bedazzled, and the aggressive Emblem.

I also took the opportunity to walk barefoot on all the plots. In general, the finer the grass blade, the softer the feel underfoot. This is purely subjective, but the “softest” and most pleasurable grasses to walk on were Moonlight SLT, Diva, Julius, Prosperity, and the king of comfort, the aptly named Blue Velvet. The least comfortable (but still nice) were Moonbeam, Emblem and Bedazzled.

In summary, the new leaders in terms of color, density and overall appearance in my opinion are Emblem, Moonbeam and Blueberry. My old favorite Prosperity is still nice, but has fallen a bit out of favor due to brown blades down low. I cracked and sprayed Serenade on all plots yesterday, so I will see which plots recover the best (if at all).

Click the thumbnail below to enlarge. Click a second time to see an even bigger photo!

BTEP20120528

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I have uploaded new photos that were taken on 5/9/2012. Hopefully they can be better compared as I tried to keep the same photo angle and white balance. jglongisland is also creating a composite picture for me. I will upload it as soon as I get it.

Full Plot
BTEP 20120502

Composite Photo (Thanks jglongisland! Click photo again for FULL size)
Combined White Adjusted

Boutique
Boutique20120509

Prosperity
Prosperity20120509

America
America20120509

Bedazzled
Bedazzled20120509

Midnight Star (Note: slight rust issues)
Midnight Star20120509

Midnight II
Midnight II20120509

Blue Velvet (Note: has noticeable case of powdery mildew)
Blue Velvet20120509

Midnight (Note: also has powdery mildew)
Midnight20120509

Moonlight SLT (Note: disappointed by the color. Seems yellowish. Might be due to my high pH soil).
Moonlight SLT20120509

Moonbeam (Note: beautiful gunmetal blue color. Shaggy looking)
Moonbeam20120509

Diva
Diva20120509

Bewitched (Note: my new favorite alongside Prosperity)
Bewitched20120509

Blueberry
Blueberry20120509

Julius
Julius20120509

Emblem
Emblem20120509

Scotts/Schultz Big Box Mix
Scotts Schultz20120509

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This will be the last update for the BTEP until spring 2012. I might get one more mowing in and will apply urea winterizer at the appropriate time in November.

This fall my lawn had issues with rust and possibly some other fungus (might be leaf spot). The BTEP plot was not immune, but it is also not uncommon for new KBG to have rust issues in its infancy. Some cultivars did better than others, but none were affected to the point of noticing any diseased blades or discoloration from afar. Here is a closeup of the worst affected area in the Midnight Star plot:

P1020152

The following are my subjective and unscientific observations regarding Leaf Width, Color, Effect of Tenacity (2 sprays 7 days apart in October at 5oz/acre), and the presence of Fungus (rust and perhaps leaf spot). Keep in mind that the grass is only about 10 weeks old, so these results should be taken with a grain of salt (or potassium ;) ).

LW: Leaf Width – Fine, Medium-Fine, Medium, Medium-Coarse, Coarse
C: Color – Light Green, Medium Green, Dark Green, Dark Blue Green
T: Tenacity Effect (Bleaching) – None, Light, Medium, Heavy
F: Fungus (Rust/Leaf Spot) – None, Light, Medium, Heavy

Year 0 Summary

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The grasses are all grown up and have had a couple of haircuts! However, as you will see from the pictures, the weeds have moved in and I’m having a heck of a time trying to control them.

The weeds I am getting span from broadleafs, to clover-like, to chickweed-like, to grassy. I first used Quinclorac w/ MSO. No effect. Then I used plain Weed-B-Gon. No effect. Last weekend I brought out the heavy artillery and sprayed Tenacity with a NIS at the spot spray rate. I’m hoping for some white weeds in the near future, and will be interested to see how the individual cultivars react to the Tenacity. I will report on that once I start to see results.

60 day pictures
NOTE: you will notice a lot of light colored blades and weeds interspersed among the plots. These are weeds, not the actual cultivars or Tenacity effect.

Full Plot
P1020128

Compact America. Clockwise from Top Left: America, Bedazzled, Prosperity, Boutique.
Prosperity is still the darkest of the group. I also like the thinner blades. America is nice and lush, but lighter than I expected. Boutique is also very nice.

P1020129

Compact Midnight: Clockwise from Top Left: Blue Velvet, Midnight, Midnight II, Midnight Star.
Blue Velvet and Midnight Star are the darkest of this group. Surprisingly, at this point Midnight is darker than Midnight II.

P1020130

Aggressive: Left to Right: Julius, Emblem.
Julius has darkened a bit and Emblem has filled out, but is full of weeds.

P1020131

Big Box Blend: Top half: Schultz (mostly Barrister, a Compact Midnight), Bottom Half: Scott’s (mostly Abbey, a BVMG type).

P1020133

Compact: Diva.

P1020132

Compacts: Clockwise from Top Left: Bewitched, Blueberry, Moonbeam, Moonlight SLT.
We really like the gunmetal blue color of Moonbeam, but are not fans of the thick lades and prostrate growth habit, Moonlight SLT is very nice and Bewitched is nice as well.

P1020135

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I was out doing some yard work today, and it was overcast, so I felt the conditions were good for a photo update. The colors showed up well on camera. Once again, I took pictures according to type.

Compact America. Clockwise from Top Left: America, Bedazzled, Prosperity, Boutique.
Prosperity is my (and my wife’s) early favorite. Darkest and the most mature out of all the cultivars after 36 days.
2011 09 23 16 02 05

Compact Midnight: Clockwise from Top Left: Blue Velvet, Midnight, Midnight II, Midnight Star.
All four are doing great. Blue Velvet is my top pick in this group.
2011 09 23 16 02 20

Aggressive: Left to Right: Julius, Emblem.
One of the lightest and one of the darkest. I’d be surprised if either of them made my reno short list.
2011 09 23 16 02 35

Big Box Blend: Top half: Schultz (mostly Barrister, a Compact Midnight), Bottom Half: Scott’s (mostly Abbey, a BVMG type). Darned if I can tell the difference. One of the lightest.
2011 09 23 16 02 47

Compact: Diva. Couldn’t fit all 5 Compacts in the same frame, so Diva fits its name and gets its own picture. I really want to like Diva because of its purported water-miser tendencies, but man is it bright green, almost neon :)
2011 09 23 16 03 01

Compacts: Clockwise from Top Left: Bewitched, Blueberry, Moonbeam, Moonlight SLT.
They’re all fairly dark, and fairly slow to establish.
2011 09 23 16 03 11

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Here is an 30 day overview picture, and my subjective opinions on color:

Dark Green: Prosperity, Midnight Star (lightest), Blue Velvet (lightest), Moonbeam, Bewitched, Blueberry, Emblem (darkest)

Medium Green: Boutique, Midnight II, Midnight, Moonlight SLT

Light Green: America (darkest), Bedazzled, Diva, Julius, Schultz/Scotts

30 Day Plot

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I took some photos to show how the cultivars “look” and so you can get a better idea on germination progress. I can’t think of a good way to measure the time at which 100% germination has taken place since some of the “laggards” may have been caused by bad seed, washout, erratic seed distribution on my part, etc. I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

Whole Plot
2011 09 09 13 48 35

Compact Americas – Clockwise from top left: America, Bedazzled, Prosperity, Boutique. All are doing quite well and are at or near full germination. A corner of the Bedazzled got washed out and germinated “outside the box”.
2011 09 09 13 49 19

Compact Midnights – Clockwise from top left: Blue Velvet, Midnight, Midnight II, Midnight Star.
2011 09 09 13 49 30

Aggressive – left to right: Julius, Emblem. I’m just waiting for day 50 to see if Emblem really takes off like Andy says it does. Regardless, Emblem would not be a good cultivar to use to overseed. It would not get established quickly enough to oversome the existing grass and the mowing.
2011 09 09 13 49 45

Big Box Store Mix – Hey it looks great right now. Can’t complain. We’ll see next year.
2011 09 09 13 49 59

Compact – top row, left to right : Bewitched, Blueberry. Bottom row, left to right: Monlight SLT, Moonbeam, Diva. I really don’t know what’s going on with Blueberry. It took off like a rocket, but ever since day 7 or 8, it has looked pretty much the same. Bewitched and Moonbeam have been slow from the beginning. I have been impressed with Diva. If it ends up being dark enough, I will seriously consider it, assuming the claims that it is a water miser are true.
2011 09 09 13 50 34

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All cultivars have germinated, some faster than others. Also, some are racing out of the gates as far as growth and coverage, while others seem to be stuck at the starting gate. There are simply too many variables to come to definite conclusions so early in the game. I will be more interested in how things look come October, and especially next May.

Here are the official germination days and an update pic from this morning. Those that seem to be lagging right now are: Boutique, Moonbeam, Bewitched and Emblem.

Germination Times

Plot 2011 08 29

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It hasn’t been quite 6 days since I seeded, and already I have germination in 9 of the 17 cultivars:

Compact: Blueberry, Diva, Moonlight SLT
Compact America: America, Bedazzled, Prosperity
Compact Midnight: Midnight II, Midnight Star
Aggressive: Julius

A couple of other plots had a few stray seedlings, but not enough for me to definitively call it “germination”. I expect them to join the germination club tomorrow.

Here is a pic of Bedazzled, probably the strongest germinator so far:

P1020067

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