Turf Seed: What's going on with Supply & Pricing?

We always try to bring the most relevant information to our readers whether it's useful tips and tricks to get rid of pests or how to get the most out of your products.

Sometimes we have to inform everyone when things aren't necessarily going as planned… which is the case today.

Those in the turf and ornamental markets by now are quite aware of the grass seed shortages going on across the country. There are a few reasons why that is, and we wanted to go over them with you so that you have a better idea of what's going on.

COVID-19's Affect on Grass Seeds

As COVID-19 shut down the world, more people had to stay at home. This led to increased interest in their own lawns, causing a high demand in grass seed. As the restrictions have eased, people are hitting the greens again and causing excessive damage on the turf, hence the demand for more seed for all the golf courses.

Until COVID-19 becomes less of an issue, we expect a high demand in grass seed for homeowners, lawn professionals, golf course management and other turf and ornamental fields.

Extreme Heat and Drought

Oregon grows as much as 98 percent of all the orchardgrass seed in the United States, as well as 93 percent of fescue seed and 91 percent of ryegrass seed, according to the state's Department of Agriculture.

One crop in particular gaining popularity with farmers in the Willamette valley is Hazelnuts or Filberts.  These nut crops are sold into many markets including the nut spread Nutella® which is experiencing increased demand from Asian countries across the world.  So many turf seed acres have been taken out of production in favor of these nut crops putting additional pressure on turf seed prices.” 

Many experts in the turfseed industry are calling 2021 THE PERFECT STORM!

Unfortunately, extreme heat and drought have plagued Oregon's seed crops, causing shortages and limiting the availability of seed for the whole market. This has a two-fold effect. One, it means seed varieties will be limited as shortages continue. Two, it causes prices to rise. Bruce Jump, our Turf Seed Manager, has been quite vocal about what he's been seeing in the turf seed business:

"We are entering unprecedented times in the turf seed business. Volatility is extremely high. Pricing is as high as I have ever seen seed pricing in my 33 years with Land O’ Lakes/WinField. As I stated before, it is imperative that we manage inventory. Besides demand increasing and yields falling due to extreme temperatures/weather, Oregon farmers have choices on what crops they grow.  They don’t have to grow turf seed and they have the option of growing corn, soybeans, vegetable and flower seed crops and many others depending on profitability."

We won't know for sure about the extent of the damage caused by heat and drought until after the harvest. However, if it continues, it won't be good for the turf seed market.

Purchases in the Industry

Some major companies, such as Scott's, have purchased seed production and marketing companies to help secure their inventory and production needs. When Scott's bought an Oregon-based seed production company, it took away up to 60 million pounds of seed from the professional market.

Barenburg did the same thing when it bought Jacklin Seed, removing a lot of bluegrass seed and inventory off the market.

Mountain View Seeds is a fantastic supplier of seeds but has struggled to meet the demand as well. MVS intends to purchase Landmark Seed to secure its own inventory and needs. Consolidation in the turf seed industry will most likely continue throughout 2021 and possibly into 2022.

In the end, we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach, but hopefully the shortages will subside soon. Until then, expect 0/0 seed to be more difficult to obtain from the July harvest as well as the August harvests in 2021.

Turf seed

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