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Annual Bluegrass


Annual bluegrass ( Poa annua ) is considered one of the world's most troublesome turf weeds. Commonly referred to by its genus name “Poa,” this weed can infest both warm and cool season turfgrass. In sports fields or home lawns in cool-season climates, annual bluegrass disrupts the color and uniformity of darker green turf types. On golf course putting greens, annual bluegrass can drastically impact the playability of the surface. In warm- season turf, this weed can create voids in the turf canopy during spring green up, which can allow other weeds to establish as annual bluegrass naturally senesces or dies. It doesn’t matter if you are a golf course superintendent, sports field manager or lawn care company, odds are you are likely dealing with this weed.


Annual bluegrass has a shallow root system, so it thrives in compacted areas that receive frequent irrigation or stay wet for prolonged periods of time. It can grow both in full sun and shaded areas where it out competes desirable turf. Poa has an ability to produce viable seeds at multiple mowing heights and does well in soils high in phosphorus, so annual bluegrass balanced fertility can be an important factor in cultural management.


Annual bluegrass is a winter annual weed with a keeled or boat-shaped leaf tip. There have been biotypes that have characteristics of a perennial. The annual biotype ( Poa annua var. annua ) is a bunch type weed with a pale green color and is a prolific seed producer. Research has found that annual biotypes can produce 70 to 110 viable seeds per square inch depending on mowing height, which can remain viable for several years. Most of the annual bluegrass seed germination occurs in fall and early winter once soil temperature drops below 70°F. Perennial biotypes (var. reptans ) can be dark green, do not produce as many seedheads as the annual variety and produce short stolons. The ligule is tall and membranous. On the back side of the leaf near the base, small wrinkles may be observed. Each leaf has a distinct midrib, almost like the leaf has been folded in half. During spring, annual bluegrass produces several seedheads giving a white cast over the turf.

Management Cultural

Reducing shade and improving drainage favors turfgrass competitiveness that can beat annual bluegrass. Irrigating as needed with deep, infrequent irrigation cycles will assist in reducing annual bluegrass. Applying fertilizers low in phosphorus and nitrogen in fall will maintain turfgrass growth and not encourage excessive Poa growth. As this weed thrives in compacted soils, aerification can discourage Poa growth and development.


Several strategies are available for chemical control of annual bluegrass. On golf greens, the most common approach is using plant growth regulators. In higher cut turf, effective control can be achieved with properly timed preemergent herbicides applied in fall, from late August to October. Due to increased levels of resistance to multiple modes of action, sound rotational practices should be implemented to reduce the risk of selecting resistant populations. Echelon ® 4SC and Xonerate ® 2SC Herbicides are excellent options for both pre and postemergence annual bluegrass control and resistance management. Echelon for preemergence Poa control will also help clean up and prevent any remaining sedge or kyllinga plants and provide effective winter annual broadleaf weed control on select weeds. Xonerate is an excellent option for postemergence Poa control


Color Atlas of Turfgrass Weeds: A Guide to Weed Identification and Control Strategies.

L.B. McCarty et al. 2nd ed. 2008 John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Annual Bluegrass Turf Fact Sheet.

Z. Reicher and R. Gaussoin. Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Pub. 2010c Pro Series. ID and Control of Annual Bluegrass and Rough Bluegrass in Lawns.

Reicher et al. 2006. Purdue Univ. and Univ. of Illinois Extension. AY-41-W, IL-IN TW 34