Seeds 4 Thought…Drew Kinder’s seed blog

Intrigue chewings fescue; not so deadly afterall
June 29, 2010, 10:41 am
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In August 2007 I posted a blog about Intrigue Chewings Fescue (Intrigue…a Natural Born Killer) that referred to research at Cornell University which was reported in the March 2007 edition of Science News. 

The jist of the Science News article was that Intrigue has a natural ability to kill common lawn weeds.  In the article Dr. Leslie Weston, at the time a Cornell weed scientist, was quoted as saying “Intrigue generally keeps a planted field 95% percent weedfree (sic) without use of supplemental herbicides”. 

I was skeptical of this claim so in the spring of 2008 I began an informal test of  Intrigue under heavy weed pressure with no herbicide or fertilizer use.  

I have a neighbor in Buffalo, NY whose lawn is infested with a wide array of broadleaf weeds competing with a thin stand of fine bladed grasses.  He believes in zero input lawn care and does nothing other than mow his lawn; no fertilizer, no herbicide, no water. 

In May 2008, with his permission I  overseeded Intrigue into a square patch of his lawn using my garden weasel.  I didn’t skimp on the Intrigue seed and fortunately we had frequent rains for several weeks so I was able to get a good stand of Intrigue in that portion of the lawn. 

I pretty much ignored the test in 2009, and in April 2010 I took this photo of the Intrigue (inside the yellow tape).  

Dandelions in Intrigue chewings fescue 2 years after planting

You can see that the lawn is pretty much  infested with dandelions.  The area with the Intrigue has somewhat fewer dandelions than other parts of the lawn, but it is certainly not weed free. 

In June 2010, at the conclusion of an unusually wet spring, I went back for another look.  I found the entire lawn, including the Intrigue test, completely over-run by clover and other dicot weeds. 

My unscientific conclusion from this zero-input lawn is that Intrigue may show some weed suppression under laboratory conditions, but under severe weed pressure with no fertilization Intrigue did not keep common broadleaf weeds out of the lawn. 

I still use Intrigue in the SS6000 shade mix at based on its performance in the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) Trials for overall turfgrass quality and dark green color, but I would caution against expectations that it will keep your lawn weed free without herbicide use.

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