CitraBlue St. Augustine – Bred for Disease Resistance

Getting a blue color was not one of the breeding objectives of the research and development of the University of Florida’s newest grass release CitraBlue™ St. Augustine. The best grass selected after many years of tireless research just happened to have a unique color. But finding a St. Augustine variety with a better resistance to damaging disease was one of the objectives. That is an area where CitraBlue shows some significant improvement.

Three of the most common diseases to infect St. Augustine varieties are large patch, grey leaf spot and take-all root rot. A study was conducted at the UF IFAS Plant Diagnostic Center to evaluate disease severity and turf quality across multiple St. Augustinegrasses over the course of a year. The study states that CitraBlue is as resistant to large patch as Floratam St. Augustine and more resistant to gray leaf spot and take all root rot than Floratam. Click on the study below for more details:


The images below were taken on October 24th, 2018 at the Citra Field Day. The second photo shows Dr. Phil Harmon sharing the St. Augustine disease research results.


CitraBlue breeder, Dr. Kevin Kenworthy talks about how CitraBlue compares in disease testing.

“CitraBlue has a similar level of tolerance to large patch as Floratam (St. Augustine),” says Kenworthy. “It will get less large patch compared to other tested commercial cultivars of St. Augustinegrass. With grey leaf spot, CitraBlue will get some but will incur less damage from this disease compared to other cultivars of St. Augustinegrass. Finally, CitraBlue has performed well and maintained good stand persistence under conditions suitable for development of take-all root rot. In these tests, CitraBlue outperformed Floratam and Palmetto.”

Disease and shade in grass go hand-in-hand in the turfgrass world. Based on testing and real world applications, CitraBlue looks to be one of the most shade tolerant varieties for Florida (see CitraBlue Turf Talk article on shade tolerance). When a grass typically gets placed into low light situations, water on the grass blades and wetness in the soil remain longer as drying time is increased. The expanded exposure to that moisture, when conditions are right, leads to disease outbreaks. As a very shade tolerant variety, inevitably CitraBlue will be put in shady areas where those outbreaks happen. So having an ability to maintain and survive in those conditions meets the need of many homeowners and professionals maintaining commercial landscapes.

CitraBlue™ ‘FSA1602’ St. Augustine grass was developed by the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program under a sponsored Research Service Agreement with the Turfgrass Producers of Florida, Inc. (TPF). CitraBlue St. Augustine is exclusively licensed to TPF by Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc., a direct support organization of the University of Florida. CitraBlue is marketed by Sod Solutions, Inc. and is now available throughout Florida.

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