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Throwback Thursday: August 1988

January 23, 2014 -  By

I often wonder what long-time subscribers of Landscape Management think of current issues of the magazine.

This week my mind is on those who subscribed to LM in 1988. What would their thoughts be on the January 2014 issue, primarily our st

Aug. 1988

Landscape Management aug. 1988

ory “The new norm?

The article reported there’s been a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in grass seed prices over the past four years, and the turfseed industry devalued by $200 million after the recession.

Moreover, suppliers said landscape professionals should plan ahead for shortages of the following varieties in 2014:

  • perennial ryegrass;
  • tall fescues;
  • some Kentucky bluegrasses;
  • fine fescues; and
  • hard fescues.

Was such a dramatic change in turfseed supply and prices even fathomable to subscribers 26 years ago?

Oh how times have changes.

Gander at the cover story from the August 1988 issue of LM and you’ll quickly get a sense of the how good the good times really were for the seed industry.

Titled “Blending to please” by then-Managing Editor Will Perry, the story cuts to the chase about the strong turfseed market in its first line, “With so many blends and mixes available, finding the right seed for a particular growing situation is easier than ever before.”

“Blends and mixtures tend to show off the best qualities of each variety,” added Virgil Meyer, Ph.D. at O.M. Scott. “From a professional standpoint, blending and mixing take a lot of the guesswork and trouble out of turf management.”

Accommodated by a seed blends chart that spans three pages of the issue, the article centers on Meyer’s remarks, the advantages of using seed blends and mixes over using a single seed. And appropriately, the top-mentioned varieties to mix with included:

  • ryegrass;
  • Kentucky bluegrass; and
  • tall fescue.

(Noticing some crossover with “The new norm” yet?)

In 1988, tall fescue was coined “the ‘new darling’ of the turf industry,” said Tom Voigt, assistant horticulturist at University of Illinois—Urbana. Due to its average cultural intensity level, deep roots and germination rate, Voigt said a mix of 90 percent tall fescue and 10 percent Kentucky bluegrass offers a more tolerant, thicker turf that can fare well in the cold months.

A similar relationship is seen between Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass, Meyer said. The strong recover rate of Kentucky bluegrass enhances—or makes up for—ryegrass’s slow recovery rate, while ryegrass lends its wear tolerance to Kentucky bluegrass.

Returning to present time and the January 2014 issue of LM, Bruce Jump, turfseed production manager at WinField Solutions, said with those aforementioned varieties now in short supply, it’s more important than ever to keep your mind open to using new ones or varieties you may have overlooked in the past.

His advice: Tell distributors what you’re looking for out of your grass, not the type of grass you want.

“The earlier you can have those conversations, then we can get your seed locked in,” he said.


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About the Author:

Former Associate Editor Sarah Pfledderer is a West Coast-based contributing editor for Landscape Management.

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