Penn State
ForagesPeopleTopicsResourcesSelection ToolContact Info

Topics : Species and Forage Variety Trials : Species Fact Sheets : Kentucky Bluegrass

Species: Kentucky Bluegrass

Additional tall fescue information via the Forage Information System (FIS)

Characteristics & Adaptation of Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) is a short- to medium height, cool-season, long-lived, highly palatable, perennial grass that has smooth, soft, green to dark green leaves with boat-shaped tips. It grows best during cool, moist weather on well-drained, fertile soils with a pH between 6 and 7 (Table 1) and spreads via rhizomes to form a dense sod. Although Kentucky bluegrass is found throughout the United States it is most important agriculturally in the north central and northeastern regions. It is best adapted to areas where the average daily temperature during July does not exceed 75 F. Warm summer temperatures are the most limiting environmental factor to Kentucky bluegrass production.

Kentucky bluegrass is found in most pastures in the northeast U.S. because it tolerates close and frequent grazing better than other cool-season forage grasses. This ability makes Kentucky bluegrass and ideal species in permanent pastures that are continuously grazed. In addition, the dense sod formed by Kentucky bluegrass rhizomes make it ideal for erosion control, particularly in grass waterways.

Adapted Kentucky Bluegrass Varieties

Most varieties of Kentucky bluegrass have been developed for use in lawns, consequently, it is widely considered the most important lawn grass in the U.S. Only three forage-type Kentucky bluegrass varieties, 'Park', 'Troy', and 'Ginger', have been released in the past 45 years. Unfortunately, turf-type varieties compared with forage-type varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, in general, require higher nitrogen fertilization, greater irrigation, and dethatching to remain productive.