Fescue – RTF (rhizomatous) Varieties
You might have seen the television ads with the bald guy stating that he can’t repair his hair but that now you can have a fescue lawn that will repair itself. I recently got a PR package from Barenbrug USA, which has done investigations on the fescue, describing the fescue. As a class, they refer to the grass as “RTF” : “Rhizomatous Tall Fescue”. It evidently was developed in New Zealand and is now being grown in Oregon.
Barenbrug named their RTF fescue ‘Labarinth’ but Cascade Seed Company also has one named ‘Ceres’ Torpedo tall fescue which is claimed to have rhizomes as well. Home Depot and K-Mart both sell fescue seed from Barenbrug.
At K-Mart I found bags of WaterSaver fescue from Barenbrug. The 10# bag contained ‘Earthsave’, ‘Wildcat’ and ‘Mohawk’ fescue varieties. Oddly enough, the WaterSaver 5# bag contained ‘Earthsave’, ‘Wildcat’ and ‘Heritage’ fescue varieties. None of these K-Mart varieties are rhizomatous, as far as I can tell.
Home Depot, on the other hand, also sells WaterSaver fescue but the 10# bag contains ‘Labarinth’, ‘TF66’ and ‘Barrera’ varieties. The K-Mart and Home Depot WaterSaver bags are identical as far as I can see. No idea why they all contain different varieties!
For online purchases, try Barenbrug USA.
Notes from Dr Clint Waltz, Extension Turf Specialist:
“As for the difference between Tall Fescue cultivars in the “Water Saver” blend, Barenburg owns the “Water Saver” name and can change the cultivars based on individual performance in different regions of the country. For example, if cultivars A, B, & C perform better in the northeast while X, Y, & Z do better in the southeast they can market it all as “Water Saver” and just change the blend. This allows them to save money in marketing while appealing to the environmental consciousness of the public.
“I’m not familiar with any public / peer reviewed data that shows any of their cultivars to have superior drought tolerance over another. I’ve taken a lot of words to say it’s a marketing strategy. Also, I am unaware of the RTF in the current NTEP trial which contains 160 cultivars (I have this study here on the Griffin Campus). Barenburg and Cascade have entries, some named (no ‘Labarinth’ or ‘Ceres’) and several numbered materials, so if they have an RTF it’s a numbered material.”