Barenbrug’s New Winter Sports Blend: Elite Sport from Barenbrug is the new number one rated Winter Sports blend. The top-performing product blends perennial ryegrasses for the renovation and construction of winter sports pitches.
Cultivar trials at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) under the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB) protocol analyse the performance of sports perennial ryegrasses under intensive wear pressure in line with a winter sports season. The trial plots are sown in spring, and a “wear simulation machine” is applied from autumn through to the following spring. Individual cultivars are replicated three times and scored for traits such as Visual Merit; Live Ground Cover; Shoot Density and Recovery; each scored on a scale of 1-9 (9 is highest).
A ryegrass cultivar must be subjected to three successive wear trials (sports seasons) to be listed in Table S1 of the annual publication “Turfgrass Seed” (aka “the STRI/BSPB booklet”). Table S1 represents a ranking of Mean scores (the combined average of Visual Merit and Live Ground Cover) of approximately 100 perennial ryegrass varieties.
Elite Sport features four of the top-six cultivars in the S1 table and contains 40% by composition of the new #1-ranked Europitch (Mean = 8.1). Overall, the product blend has an outstanding Mean score of 7.92. This score translates into Elite Sport being the industry-leading performing product for winter sports use in the UK.
In addition to performance underwear, the blend has other traits of interest to grounds managers of elite winter sports surfaces. Barcristalla (25% of the mix) is ranked #1 in the top-60 listed varieties for dark green colour and has exceptional Drechslera leaf spot and Fusarium (Microdochium) tolerance (source: turfgrass-list.org). These two factors are particularly important to stadium environments under intensive disease pressure and the scrutiny of high-definition TV cameras.
Three of the four varieties have also been put their paces at Barenbrug’s dedicated UK research station, Cropvale, in Worcestershire. Here, wear simulation is monitored using Digital Image Analysis (DIA) to objectively analyse performance.
Elite Sport is being successfully tested in pilot form at Heart of Midlothian FC, following a full pitch reconstruction in the summer of 2018.
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