Bermuda grass was first introduced into the United states from Africa as early as 1751. It was used primarily in agriculture for grazing livestock. In the early 1900's when golf became popular, the use of Bermuda grass on golf courses did as well. From here, the success of turf grass breeding in the U.S. began. Common Bermuda grass, a widely used term, is used to classify many different types of Bermuda grass. All of these common Bermuda grasses reproduce sexually and produce seed. The seed is spread by wind, erosion, birds, etc. The plant can also re-produce vegetatively with its roots, (rhizomes and stollens) being spread in a similar manner, continuing the propagation of the species. As reproduction occurs, characteristics change. Because of this type of reproduction, Common Bermuda grass will continually cross breed and change. Its gene pool never remains the same due to the random breeding. Dr. G. W. Burton began a Bermuda grass cross breeding program at the Coastal Plains Substation in Tifton, Georgia in the mid 1950's. From this program many successful cross-bred Bermuda hybrids were developed. Tifway 419 was developed and released in 1960 by Dr. Burton. It was chosen for turf because of its superior turf characteristics. Tifway 419 is a triploid hybrid cross that does not reproduce sexually. It has 27 chromosomes and is incapable of reproducing, so the characteristics remain unchanged. The original breeders' stock of this Tifway 419 is still maintained and highly protected. Shelby Sod Company, Inc. maintains a four acre plot of this original cross and uses it to plant its fields.
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