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URBAN AG Tricked or treated?

Understand what you’re getting when buying seed by Adam Russell, Pennington Seed

The main tag colors bought by consumers are white, blue, and gold. It’s extremely important to under- stand the legal standards at each quality level, and that it is more im- portant what is left in the seed rather than what is cleaned out.

As fall descends on the Atlanta area, the landscape industry turns to the long-standing practices of aeration and overseeding of cool-sea- son turf. While many can expound of the values given to fields and customers from implementing these practices, there seems to be a lack of understanding on the most valuable part that produces the lush results we all love. That part is seed, that simple commod- ity that starts its life between Portland and Eugene, Oregon, but causes so much bartering back and forth during a short window of time that crucial details are oſten overlooked in the rush to get the item and get it into the ground.

Hopefully this article

will offer some help by explaining how we as seed companies label cool-season seed produc- tion, how quality levels are tested, and how anyone on the consumer side can make more educated decisions on the many facets of buying and selling in the overseed market.


For a $225 million yearly farm gate, the overseed business of our two favorite overseed crops are mostly harvested and cleaned in the Willamette Valley, an area about 40 miles wide by 100 miles long containing around 1,500 farms bounded on both sides by mountains. It is the ideal place for growing un-irrigated fescue and perennial ryegrass crops that thrive between 45-80 de- grees Fahrenheit. Te valley receives cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, allowing vast

But did you know that for the most com- mon seed bought by landscapers, Blue Tag Qualified blends, a certain amount of other crop seed is allowed?

Most ask that no weed seed is in the bag, but oſten it is annual rye in either perennial rye or fescue that causes problems. Annual rye is listed as a percentage of the total seed in each bag un- der “Other Crop Seed” because it is a crop grown for sale in Oregon, but in terms of the end result on a monostand field or yard, it can be a noxious weed difficult to control once established along- side desirable grass. Gold tag lists by species anything showing up in a bag regardless of spe- cies or type, but this involves additional testing

arrays of crops to be cultivated side-by-side. Tis presents part of the challenge of a seed cleaning operation. Clover, orchard grass, bushel crops are oſten separated from our two yearly buys by only a road or fence line. Tis is why it is such an undertaking to keep seed pure why trying to placate demands for the highest quality from the landscape industry.

Seed tags explained To provide a conduit between farmer and con- sumer, seed tags were created and made legal items sewn onto every bag of seed. It is a win- dow into the cleaning process and over time has divided into certain color levels to make it easier for consumers to understand quickly the quality of their purchase.

Te main tag colors bought by consumers are white, blue, and gold. It’s extremely important to understand the legal standards at each quality level, and that it is more important what is leſt in the seed rather than what is cleaned out.

For example, all seed at all three levels must exhibit at least 90% germination.

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