Fall Renovation: Seed (Part 1)

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In case you have not yet purchased your seed (tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass) for fall renovation, let me tell you what to expect. First, significantly higher seed prices. Second, you may only find coated seed for some species.

Seed prices will likely be between 30 and 50% higher than what you spent last year. This is not a problem unique to a single supplier or retail store. It is a result of several factors. First, demand in the spring was unusually high which largely depleted carry-over seed (which can stabilize supply in the current year). The second disruption of supply has been seed yields. A historical dry spring followed by the extraordinary June heat in Oregon reduced seed yields by as much as 50% on fescues and perennial ryegrasses. The third part of this supply equation has been the logistics and freight issues which continue to affect shipment of all goods, not just seed. Remember, all of our country’s cool-season turfgrass seed is grown in the far northwest (mostly Oregon) so 100% of it must be shipped across the country. Shipping companies have been quick to add peak-season surcharges this year.

As a result of the reduced seed supply, some seed companies have made the decision to increase the use of coatings on seed as a way to decrease their cost. Previously, coated seed were just in the residential seed market. But this year expect to see more in the commercial seed supply. If coated seed is purchased, seeding rates will need to be increased proportional to the percentage of the seed coating (e.g., bag has 20% seed coating, 80% seed, then seeding rate will need to be increased by 20%). In Part 2, I will discuss the agronomic approaches to consider with fall renovation.

bagged cool-season turfgrass seed

Cool-season grass seed