Can You Develop Cold Tolerant St. Augustine Grass?

Q: I want you to develop a really cold tolerant St. Augustine grass. We had a cold winter and only half of my ‘Palmetto’ St. Augustine grass survived. 

A: My own St Augustinegrass lawn was started from sprigs that were harvested from a 20-year-old lawn near downtown Atlanta. I figured that if the grass had survived that long, it was cold hardy enough for my lawn in north Decatur. I have never had any cold damage. Developing a brand new St Augustinegrass variety is tough because modern varieties do not produce viable seed. You have to collect pollen from wild plants and individually fertilize grass plants growing in a greenhouse. It’s not a job I want to attempt!