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.

Intrigue Chewings Fescue….A Natural Born Killer
August 1, 2007, 11:21 pm
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In a recent article, Science News reports that Intrigue Chewings Fescue has been discovered by scientists at Cornell University to have allelopathic characteristics, which is the ability to exude an unusual variant of a common amino acid that is fatal to at least 20 of the most common urban weeds (“Herbal Herbicides, Weed Killers manufactured by Mother Nature”, Science News, March 17, 2007). The roots of weeds “soon become deformed and stunted, and death quickly follows” after absorption of Intrigue’s unique amino acid, according to Science News.Dr. Leslie Weston at Cornell found that of the many fescues that exude the toxic amino acid, Intrigue Chewings Fescue stands out. “Intrigue generally keeps a planted field 95% percent weedfree (sic) without use of supplemental herbicides, Weston notes”.

In addition to its unusual ability to kill weeds, Intrigue also produces high quality turf. Based on the 1999-2002 National Fine Fescue test, we rate Intrigue “Very Good” for high, medium and low input conditions. It has a dark green color. (See the Intrigue Chewings Fescue “Stat Sheet” under the Products tab for more information.)

North of the transition zone, we recommend Intrigue for planting in shady conditions (less than 4 hours of direct sun daily) and for use as a 20%-40% component of a sunny lawn mix where chemical weed control is not desired or is prohibited.