Greenkeepers at BTME were able to take home the latest information on Velvet Bents, the exciting cultivars which are saving inputs and boosting the environmental performance of golf clubs across the country. The seminar aimed to provide a background to the history and breeding of Velvet Bents and the benefits they can offer to UK greenkeepers.
British Seed Houses hosted the seminar entitled 'Introducing Velvet Bents to Your Course'.as part of Harrogate week's comprehensive educational programme, with Amenity Field Sales Manager Richard Brown introducing the company's new Velvet Bent seed mixture, Level Par.
The first company to introduce modern cultivars to the UK market, British Seed Houses now offers the excellent Avalon and Vesper Velvet Bents, as well as Level Par, a combination of the two.
Richard explained: "Many greenkeepers are nervous of making changes to the species composition of their greens due to pressure from the members and green committee. This is based on perceived changes that may be seen in the playing surface and interruption of the playing calendar.
"What we're saying is that rather than continue with what you've always done (i.e. continue to sustain predominantly Poa annua based greens) aim to establish Velvet Bent that will ultimately require far less nutrients and water, exactly the thing that keeps the Poa annua going. The idea is to make a gradual change to a leaner nutritional regime and starve the Poa annua out."
After introduction of the new Velvet Bent seed mixture, Richard interviewed Gary Hawley of Henbury Golf Club, Westbury on Trym, Bristol. Gary is already using the Velvet Bent mixture with considerable success.
He explained that he is currently applying 80-100kg/ha of N per year but is looking to reduce the level to reduce the competitiveness of the Poa annua. Richard commented that although Avalon is comfortable at high N rates, it will tolerate much lower levels down to 30kg/ha. "This benign neglect provides the perfect conditions for Avalon to thrive and Poa annua to decrease."
Asked if he had noticed a build up of thatch since using Avalon, Gary replied: " Although Avalon has an extremely high shoot density, I have never found thatch to be a problem. With modern greenkeeping equipment and management, thatch should never be a problem whatever species you are managing."
The seminar proved very popular with a strong attendance and provoked a good reaction from the audience. There was also an informative Q and A session with the audience at the end.