Pick a low-maintenance lawn grass this month


CORVALLIS — Lawn looking lackluster? Mid-August to early October is a sweet spot in the calendar year to sow fresh grass seed or replace an existing lawn throughout the state, according to Alec Kowalewski, turfgrass specialist for the Oregon State University Extension Service.

If you wait until November, you’re too late — the next best bet to establish a new lawn comes around the following April to May.

“The problem is that when you get later into the year, annual bluegrass takes over,” Kowalewski said. “If your turfgrass seed germinates late in the fall, it will not out-compete annual bluegrass, a very problematic, profuse weed due to our wet climate.”

Wondering which type of turfgrass is best? If you live in Western Oregon and full sun embraces your lawn, Kowalewski recommends perennial ryegrass. If your lawn lies in the shade or you don’t irrigate much, fine fescues are a great choice, he said. But Kowalewski advised picking tall fescues if you don’t water much and your lawn gets full sun.

“Fescues are very drought-tolerant,” Kowalewski said. “Tall fescue is the most drought-tolerant and fine fescue is both drought- and shade-tolerant.”

For Eastern Oregon homeowners who deal with a significant amount of snowfall, Kowalewski suggested Kentucky bluegrass. But remember, it needs irrigation.

Science has not created a kind of turfgrass that stays green all year without any water — yet.

“Tall fescue is the closest thing to it,” Kowalewski said.

To establish a new lawn, decide first whether you are completely redoing your lawn or freshening up scruffy-looking patches of turfgrass. If you’re tearing out your old lawn, see the OSU Extension article “Two ways to uproot your lawn” athttp://bit.ly/19Lndd0.

If you’re repairing an old lawn, first aerate it with a core-cultivating machine and seed the turfgrass into the existing lawn. It’s a practice known as inter-seeding or renovation, Kowalewski said.

“The most important part is adding fertilizer while seeding,” Kowalewski advised. “From now until the rainy season starts, you’ll need to irrigate lightly every day to every other day to keep the grass moist. About one-tenth of an inch each time you water is adequate.”

Select turfgrass-specific starter fertilizer. Perennial ryegrass will germinate in about 7-10 days and will establish deep roots in 2-3 weeks. Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and fine fescue will germinate in about 21 days and take about two months to take root. When grass has developed strong enough roots, it’s time to start mowing it and playing on it.

Want to support Oregon grass seed growers with the purchase of your new lawn?

“The cool thing is that most of the grass available on the market is grown right here in Oregon,” Kowalewski said.

Click here to read the original article from the Mail Tribune.

Inclusion of GMO crop policy in PERS, tax negotiations riles some Democrats


A policy staunchly opposed by environmentalists has entered the negotiations over a package of public pension cuts and new tax increases, The Oregonian has learned.

Senate Bill 633 would have prevented local governments from regulating the propagation of genetically modified plants. It passed the Senate in May, but died in the House during the Legislative session under pressure from environmentalists and some farmers.

Now, a modification of that policy is back on the table. In discussions Tuesday on a budget package aimed at boosting funding for schools and public services, legislative leadership included a new version of the policy from SB 633 as a bargaining chip.

What left the plan, which was shown to lawmakers earlier this week, is a reduction in money match benefits for people who left state employment without retiring.

Cutting benefits on so-called “inactive” members of the Public Employees Retirement System is considered legally risky by some lawyers, who think the Oregon Supreme Court is more likely to strike down a policy reducing money match benefits for a certain class of retirees.

Removing the money match portion of the PERS cuts would reduce the long-term savings envisioned by the package from $5 billion to $4.6 billion.

In brokering the deal, Democrats allowed a modified version of SB 633 to be included in the increasingly complex package of legislation.

Under terms of the latest deal shown to rank-and-file lawmakers last night, the rules barring local governments from passing limits on genetically modified crops would exempt Jackson County, where voters will weigh in on a ballot measure banning the crops next year.

Some Democrats are privately scoffing at the new package, which also includes tax cuts for some businesses and new tax revenue that together would raise roughly $200 million in new revenue over the next two years.

Republicans are also unhappy with the reduced PERS savings.

It’s unclear what the deal’s fate will be in the coming days. Lawmakers are in Salem for routine meetings but aren’t in session. But Gov. John Kitzhaber has taken the opportunity of having lawmakers in town to try to broker a deal between the parties on new PERS cuts and increased taxes.

Kitzhaber has said he would call the Legislature into a special session Sept. 30 if lawmakers can reach an agreement.

Click here to read the original article from The Oregonian.

Grass seed prices on the rise


Lower production and higher demand have boosted the 2013 prices for perennial and tall turf-type fescue grass seed to near-record levels, industry insiders say.

“These are the highest prices we’ve seen since 2007,” Oregon Seed League Treasurer Drew Bell said of fescue. He began working as operations manager at Coleman Seed and Hay in Gervais, Ore., in that year.

Mark Simmons, executive director of the Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association, said Missouri produced an oversupply of Kentucky 31 tall fescue, but the K-31 market price is “holding its own.”

He added an oversupply of perennial ryegrass from Europe has found its way to the East Coast and is selling for about $1 per pound.

“It has put a ceiling on Oregon perennial grasses,” said Simmons, although he believes the stagnated perennial prices will be “short-lived.”

“I think things are setting up to have continued strong prices into 2014,” Simmons said.

Oregon Seed Association President Bryan Muntz said perennial ryegrass had a 40-million-pound carryover this year, which has helped move seed from harvest into the market quickly. It’s a much lower number than the 100 million he estimates the industry experienced at the height of the recession.

“There wasn’t a lot of carryover this year, so everybody needs everything,” he said. “Warehouses are cleaning seed around the clock.”

In 2012, 377,420 acres of fescue and annual and perennial ryegrass valued $337.7 million were harvested in Oregon, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service figures released in July.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service 2013 forecast released in February, estimated that crop acreage planted will vary less than five percent per variety. Still, yields were less than previous years.

“Because of the dry weather last fall and dry May weather, the crops did not get the harvest we normally get,” Simmons said.

Growers are also opting to scale back grass seed production in favor of other crops, said Simmons.

“It’s not that demand has cut back,” Simmons said. “It’s that production has been cut back dramatically.”

Matt Herb, research director of Oregro Seeds and past president of the Oregon Seed Growers Association, said the 2008 economic downturn and an overstock of grass seed led Oregon growers to seek new revenue-generating crops. Many turned to wheat — as many as 200,000 new acres were planted — and other crops, according to Herb.

“We’ll never go back to the heyday of grass seed,” Herb said. “It’s a good thing when you have diversity among species and markets.”

One hurdle facing grass seed growers is a lack of information to base crop projections on, Simmons said.

“We desperately need better information. In 2008 and 2009, we were over production for a number of years before being hit by the dramatic recession, and it caused a great deal of damage to the seed industry,” Simmons said.

Click here to read the original article from the Capital Press.

5 year trend of Oregon Ag

OREGON NATURAL RESOURCE REPORT — Five-year trend shows ups and downs in Oregon Ag.

Oregon agriculture’s tremendous diversity is reflected in the fact that most crops and livestock are on the upswing the past five years while a handful are slow to reach 2007 production levels. Despite the ups and downs, the state once again enjoyed a record high agricultural production value in 2012 at $5.4 billion. That bottom line number is a half billion more than reported in 2007.

Newly revised figures released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), with assistance from Oregon State University, contain preliminary numbers for the 2012 value of production. The overall trend shows farms and ranches have not only bounced back from the days of recession, they have eclipsed 2011’s high water mark of $5.3 billion. Out of the top 40 commodities, only nine saw decreases in 2012 from the previous year. Compared with 2007 production, only eight have dropped.

Over the past 20 years, the leading Oregon agricultural commodities have generally stayed the same, with an occasional newcomer entering the picture. Oregon’s 2012 value of agricultural production– the total value of crops and livestock sold off the farm– includes a top ten list that contains familiar names but a rank order that varies from year to year:

​Greenhouse and nursery products: ​$745 million
​Cattle and calves: ​$653 million
​Hay: ​$638 million
​Milk: ​$497 million
​Wheat: ​$472 million
​Grass seed: ​$411 million
​Potatoes: ​$172 million
​Pears: ​$134 million
​Corn for grain and silage: ​$119 million
​Onions: ​$115 million

At least one longstanding member of the top ten has dropped out– Christmas trees ranked #12 last year with a value of $102 million. At different times in recent years, both blueberries and cherries have cracked the top ten but now find themselves at #11 and #14 respectively.

Over the past two decades, greenhouse and nursery production has been Oregon’s top ranked agricultural commodity nearly every year. At $745 million, the sector is up slightly from 2011 but remains 28 percent below its record high of more than $1 billion in 2007. The recession’s impact on
the housing market negatively impacted sales starting in 2008. It has been a long, slow journey back for the industry sector, which is still way short of that billion dollar mark of five years ago.

Cattle and calves have regained second place with a strong showing in 2012, gaining 7 percent from the previous year and an impressive 40 percent from its production value in 2007. The commodity was ranked #3 both in 2011 and five years ago.

At #3, hay remains one of the leading crops in Oregon, but its value last year dropped 12 percent from 2011. However, compared to 2007’s production value, hay has increased 38 percent. Remaining at #4, milk also saw a one-year drop in 2012 (6 percent) but remains 21 percent higher in production value than 2007’s number.

Wheat prices have been relatively high the past couple of years, allowing the one time leader of Oregon agriculture to bounce back into the top five. Prices softened a bit in 2012, dropping the value 6 percent from 2011. That’s still 31 percent better than 2007, making wheat another commodity that is generally trending up.

At #6, the story of grass seed parallels greenhouse and nursery products. The recession and corresponding housing market slump reduced demand and sales following 2007. While last year’s 20 percent increase in production value from 2011 was encouraging, grass seed’s value is still 19 percent below what it was in 2007, when it ranked second of all Oregon ag commodities.

Potatoes have ranked #7 for many years, but its value dropped 4 percent from 2011. That is still nearly 18 percent better than it was five years ago.

After greatly struggling in 2011 and dropping out of the top ten for a year, pears rebounded nicely in 2012, reaching #8 and increasing in production value by 73 percent from the previous year. That’s the highest percentage jump of any of the top commodities. The value of pears has also increased 58 percent from 2007.

For the second straight year, corn grown for grain and silage is in the top ten at #9, increasing in value by 10 percent from 2011. No other commodity has grown more dramatically over a five year period as the production value for corn grown for grain and silage has increased a whopping 138 percent since 2007.

Rounding out the top ten is onions, which dropped off the list in 2011 after being a mainstay for many years. Onions have shown good growth over both a one-year period (+25 percent) and a five-year period (+135 percent). Its return to the top ten pushed out blueberries and Christmas trees.

Outside the top ten, only a handful of commodities have trended down over the past five years– and none dramatically. Christmas trees, apples, grass and grain straw, horses and mules, cranberries, and strawberries have all seen production values drop from 2007.

Notable growth over the five-year stretch has been recorded for blueberries (+65 percent), wine grapes (+37 percent), cherries (+52 percent), mint (+67 percent), and blackberries (+56 percent). Watermelons (+204 percent) and sheep and lambs (+95 percent) have grown considerably as well, but the percentage growth is a little misleading since their overall value is not quite as high as some of the others that are trending up.

It’s hard to predict 2013 production values, but a five-year history suggests the general trend will be up.

For more information, contact Bruce Pokarney at (503) 986-4559.

Click here to read the original article from the Oregon Natural Resource Report.

Sprague Pest Solutions Unifies Oregon Brand Presence

Eugene, Oregon – Blue is coming to the south coast of Oregon and we aren’t talking about the crystal blue skies of late summer and early fall.

The blue we are talking about is that of Sprague Pest Solutions, one of the Pacific Northwest’s longest serving and respected pest management service providers. Sprague, which was founded in 1926, has been doing business as South Coast Xterminating since it acquired the Oregon company in June 2012.

Like South Coast Xterminating, Sprague is family-owned and operated and services both residential and commercial customers. The company, entering its fourth generation of family management, has built its business on the core principles of providing innovative pest management solutions and exceptional customer service.

“During the transition period our clients have shown they care the most about our people and the friendly, personalized service they receive,” says Alfie Treleven, CEO of Sprague Pest Solutions. “We respect the trust and confidence they have placed in us and look forward to continuing those relationships.”

Among the changes customers can expect to see include the service technicians wearing the traditional blue Sprague uniform, new Sprague decals on service vehicles, and updated service reports with the Sprague name and logo. The company’s website (www.southcoastxterminating.com) will also be redirected to the Sprague website (www.spraguepest.com). The changes are expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Sprague, the 32nd largest pest management service provider, has been servicing commercial and residential customers in the Oregon market since the early 1990s. In addition to serving the South Coast communities of Bandon, Brookings, Florence and Gold Beach, Sprague has service centers in Portland and Eugene.

Sprague Pest Solutions delivers innovative pest solutions to commercial and residential pest management customers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Colorado. Sprague is a Copesan Services partner.

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Media Contact:
Carrie Thibodeaux
Sprague Pest Solutions
253/405-2590 / carriet@spraguepest.com

Read the original media release here.