Research & Development

PGG Wrightson Turf are leaders in the research and development of innovative products for the Australasian turf market. From our world class research and development site at Kimihia Research Centre based in Christchurch, we utilise the latest technology advances to thoroughly evaluate products before bringing them to the market. Our commitment to R&D is at the heart of everything we do at PGG Wrightson Turf, ranging from breeding climatically adapted turfgrasses specifically bred for Australasia's unique environment to conducting field trials on various products to determine quality as well as suitability for our clients.

The two main activities that occur at Kimihia Research Centre are the production of trial seed samples and the evaluation of the quality of these seed samples. Seed is grown once a year so typically seed is sown in the autumn and harvested the following summer. Many varieties of mainly cool season grasses (including ryegrasses, tall fescues, fine fescues and browntops) are grown from small samples of trial seed in an effort to 'bulk up' the seed. Promising material from each grass type is then evaluated either as a single plant or in rows or plots in order to evaluate their performance and qualities as a potential new cultivar.

PGG Wrightson Turf have partnerships with AgResearch, STRI-UK, NTEP-USA, ANTEP-AUS, NZSTI-NZ and PLANTwise (Lincoln University) and work with these organisations to produce new cultivars and technology.

Innovation is always at the forefront of our research programmes, an example of this being our innovative new avian deterrent grass range AVANEX unique endophyte technology developed with AgResearch and Grasslanz with assistance from FAR and CIAL. Through our extensive research and development programmes we constantly aim to find solutions to common turf related problems and bring these new technologies to the market to make them accessible to all customers.



Turfgrass Breeding

PGG Wrightson Turf specifically select and breed turfgrasses for Australasia's unique temperate environment. The process of plant breeding involves correctly selecting plants, both locally sourced and from international germplasm, that are genetically crossed, and back-crossed and then further selected for the characteristics that are sought after for the desired environment. From there, the suitable plants are rigorously tested in multiple turf trials spread throughout Australasia where only the elite cultivars are finally selected for commercial production.

Read more on our current trials.


Establishment Guidelines for Princess-77 using Conwed hydromulch

PGG Wrightson Turf field trials in Melbourne and Auckland have demonstrated that sowing Princess-77 with hydromulch is the fastest, cheapest and most efficient way of establishing couch. Further more, oversowing couch each autumn with perennial ryegrass will improve the playing quality, durability and colour of the surface, without compromising couch recovery the following spring (go towww.pggwrightsonturf.com.au to read the full reports, ‘Success with Princess-77 seeded couch’ and ‘Assessment of football surface quality and couch grass recovery with or without winter oversowing with perennial ryegrass’ and our ‘Guide to winter oversowing’).

Read and download the establishment guide and 10 point plan here


Comparison of establishment of seeded couch vs sprigged couch cultivars, Dr. Phil Ford

A couchgrass surface is an excellent choice for sportsfields, golf fairways, lawns and parklands due to its superior drought resistance, wear tolerance, performance under low inputs and its creeping growth habit. There are dozens of cultivars to choose from, some available from seed and some that can only be grown by vegetative means (i.e. sprigging). Since the 1980s a great many high quality vegetative cultivars have been used, such as Santa Ana, Wintergreen, Legend, WindsorGreen, TifSport and the dwarf and ultradwarf types used on greens. Turf Managers are familiar with these cultivars, and also the onerous process of establishing them by sprigging or line-planting. But some seeded couch cultivars rival the best of the vegetative cultivars for quality, density and short dormancy. A major advantage of seeding couch is the ease and rapidity of establishment. As this report will show, a full couch cover can be achieved in six weeks from seed, while sprigging takes around 12 weeks and line planting more like 15 weeks to reach full cover. 

Read the full report here



Success with Princess-77 seeded couch, Dr. Phil Ford


Couchgrass (Cynodon dactylon and hybrids, known as bermudagrass in many countries) provides an excellent quality natural turfsurface suited to a wide range of sports. Its main advantage over cool season (C3) grasses such as perennial ryegrass, tall fescue orKentucky bluegrass is drought resistance. Couch drought resistance is due to a combination of factors:

1. It has around 30% lower daily ET rate than C3 grasses

2. Couch roots improve through summer, unlike C3 roots which decline over summer

3. Couch is not susceptible to Heat Stress

4. Couch resurrects quickly after rain or irrigation, even after prolonged drought

Couch is so drought resistant that irrigation can be considered optional in all but the driest climates. It may go into summer dormancy after prolonged drought, but it survives with an intact surface which will green up rapidly whenever rain falls. Many sports fields and fairways in Melbourne for example, are simply not irrigated despite regular droughts and summer temperaturesup to 45ºC.

Read the full report here



Ryegrasses for Racetracks, Dr. Phil Ford

There are several different types of ryegrass (Lolium species). This report will provide information that should help Racetrack Managers choose which type is best for their situation.

Ryegrass is a tillering plant, with only a very limited ability to move laterally. Some cultivars are promoted as creeping, but their lateral spread is minimal, not at all like the creeping behaviour you would see with Kentucky bluegrass, couch or kikuyu. Tillering is where the original plant that germinates from a seed starts to develop a crown, with multiple shoots (tillers) growing from that central crown,


Read the full report here