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Grass Seed Update

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As we approach the fall seeding season, we want to make you aware of the current seed harvest situation, market conditions, and the impact on price and availability.

Grass Seed Crop Is Finite

There is only so much grass seed produced each year. It is harvested once a year in July, and there will be no more new seed available for 12 months. Some years are better than others for the crop, and it can affect prices. 

Demand Has Increased

Market demand for grass seed is typically pretty stable, so it is not difficult to predict—lower crop yield equals higher prices and vice versa. Last year threw a wrench in this system with unprecedented demand from both retail stores and lawn care businesses. Evidently, a lockdown is good for seed demand.

Typically, there is about a 15-20% crop carry-over of inventory from one year to the next. Because of the extreme demand, most seed companies are out of many types of grass seed and are waiting for this year’s harvest to begin. This market condition alone is sure to drive up prices.

Yield Is Expected to Be Down

The Willamette Valley, where most of the world’s grass seed is grown, has had an excessively dry and hot summer. These conditions result in a lower yield of grass seed.

The Impact on Price

Remember, low yield equals high prices, and high demand equals high prices. We are expecting both.

The farmers that grow Tall Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass are part of the OGSBA (Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association), and they negotiate the price paid for their crop with seed marketing companies every summer. This year those prices are at record highs.

We are still assessing the exact impact, but we expect prices on many seed blends and mixtures to increase by 30% or more compared to last fall. As we wait on the new seed crop to be harvested and cleaned, the current purchase prices are even higher on what little seed is still available from last year’s crop.

What Can You Do to Manage the Impact?

Plan accordingly for inevitable price increases.

Now is an excellent time to consider using coated seed to decrease cost. Also, evaluate the agronomic effectiveness of the seed varieties you are using. Perennial Ryegrass has been added to many mixtures in the past to keep costs down and add an instant green that customers love to see. Different species may now get you more bang for your buck.

Meet with your Advanced Turf Solutions sales representative to learn more about seed varieties, coated seed, and other strategies for managing the impact of rising seed costs.

This is not meant to be a doom and gloom message. As your trusted supplier, we simply wanted to keep you abreast of the impact of the increased demand and decreased yield of the new seed crop harvest. We certainly cannot predict what will happen moving forward and do not want to promote any overreactions. As the new seed crop is harvested and cleaned, we will have a better idea of where the market will settle out, but we wanted to make you aware that seed prices will be substantially higher than last year.

Rusty Stachlewitz
Seed Product Manager

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