Oklahoma-Developed Turf Grass Takes Center Stage at Super Bowl LVII

KOKH - February 13, 2023 5:06 pm

Oklahoma-developed turf grass takes center stage at Super Bowl LVII. (KOKH)

Super Bowl LVII may have been played in Glendale, Ariz. between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles — but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a little bit of Oklahoma there too.

Researchers at Oklahoma State University developed the turf grass that took center stage at State Farm Stadium on Sunday.

Fox 25 took a trip to OSU’s turf grass research center to see if the grass there is any greener.

On Friday, it was winter brown — but looks can be deceiving. Researchers specifically developed the grass for sports like football — and to tolerate wear and tear from cleats and low mowing.

According to Ryan Earp, a master’s student at OSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, “It’s really awesome just to be a part of something that’s kind of on, on the national level. You know, we put in work every day to try to make these grasses better.”

Earp helped develop the Tahoma 31 bermudagrass. He and his team at Oklahoma State, under the leadership of professor and self-described “grass breeder” Dr. Yangqi Wu, told Fox 25 about the efforts that went into the development of the grass — and their pride in their work making it to the Super Bowl.

Dr. Wu, a professor at the department of plant and soil sciences, shared that, “We got a little bit excited about this, using in the football leagues, and finally get a Super [Bowl].”

Oklahoma-developed turf grass takes center stage at Super Bowl LVII. (KOKH)

Oklahoma-developed turf grass takes center stage at Super Bowl LVII photo 2

According to him, the process to breed grass to such specific purposes and traits takes years.

“Oh that’s a long time [of] work. Plant breeding [is] always many years work. Averagely, anywhere between 10 to 15 years. These grasses we started… [in] 2006,” he explained.

Greenhouse, lab, and field testing were all a part of the process that led the Oklahoma-grown grass making it to the national stage.

Earp added that he is, “definitely going to be watching, and just kind of seeing a little bit a part of us out there,” on Sunday.

According to OSU, turf grass is a $40 billion annual industry — and brings approximately $1 billion each year to the Oklahoma economy.

When asked about the selection process that led to his department’s turf grass being selected for use in the Super Bowl, Dr. Wu shared that, “I’m happy with their selection, the decision they made.”

According to OSU, Tahoma 31 bermudagrass also features at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. — home to the Kentucky Derby — and Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.


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