How Oregon grass seed found its way to the World Cup

CANBY, Ore. — Like billions of people worldwide, Crystal Rose-Fricker has found herself glued to coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

But unlike most soccer fanatics, Rose-Fricker is paying close attention to one detail in particular — the quality of the playing surface.

Rose-Fricker, president of Pure Seed in Canby, Ore., has a keen interest in this year’s tournament, with her company providing tens of millions of pounds of grass seed for the eight stadiums and 71 practice fields. It is a monumental task, made possible by years of research and development.

The result is that Oregon turf is again featured on the world stage. According to NBC Sports, an estimated 5 billion viewers are expected to tune in to the World Cup.

“It’s a long process of building relationships and connecting Oregon grass seed with that end market,” Rose-Fricker said. “This is one example of an international connection.”

Building relationships

Pure Seed is a wholesale producer of commercial turf and forage grasses, founded by Rose-Fricker’s father, Bill Rose.

Over the course of five decades, the company has supplied grass seed for golf courses, football fields and soccer pitches around the world. New varieties are tested at Pure Seed’s research farms in Oregon and North Carolina, carefully bred to match each customer’s unique needs.

“You have to go out and travel the world,” Rose-Fricker said. “You have to meet and work with people.”

In the case of the 2022 World Cup, Rose-Fricker said the opportunity came thanks to a collaboration with another turf grass producer, Atlas Turf International.

About eight years ago, Pure Seed and Atlas Turf, based in LaGrange, Ga., started a joint venture called Pure Turf, marketing a perennial ryegrass blend named Pure Sport.

While it was Pure Seed that developed the variety, it was Atlas Turf that had connections to markets in the Middle East, where the company sells seashore paspalum — a type of warm-season and salt-tolerant grass well suited to the region.

John Holmes, president of Atlas Turf, said it was 2016 when they were contacted by Aspire Zone, a sports training facility in Qatar, interested in testing grass seed blends.

Officials there ultimately selected paspalum as a base for the fields, over-seeded with Pure Sport, the ryegrass blend cultivated in Oregon.

That is what is now being used for the World Cup, having demonstrated it can withstand Qatar’s hot climate and the rigors of 64 soccer games played in 29 days.

“It wasn’t just something that happened overnight,” Holmes said. “It was a long process, working with the client there and working with what they need, and making sure their specifications were met.”

Breeding varieties

Breeding grass seed itself is a lengthy process that takes about 10 years, Rose-Fricker said.

Pure Seed is constantly looking for traits to make grass seed more drought-tolerant and disease-resistant, she said. The company contracts with growers in the Willamette Valley to grow the seed, which is then distributed globally.

“As you know, you can’t just create seed next week,” Rose-Fricker said. “It’s not a widget you can build in a factory. It’s a living plant.”

In addition to heat and disease resilience, Rose-Fricker said the grass had to be shade-tolerant given the partially closed stadium roofs.

Shipping the seed in time for the World Cup was another logistical challenge, Holmes said. The seed was shipped in May via ocean carrier, arriving in mid-July. Once in Qatar, groundskeepers had a 10-day window to plant the seed in October so it would be ready for the start of the tournament on Nov. 20.

Holmes said he is so far pleased with how the grass has performed.

“It’s been so exciting to see how well it’s held up during the matches,” he said. “So far, I don’t believe there have been any turf-related injuries.”

Rose-Fricker said the event is another example of how Oregon grass seed growers leave their imprint all over the world.

“I just think our growers deserve to know their grass is being used around the world, and it’s making a difference,” she said.

Originally published by George Plaven, Capital Press, 12/13/2022

Rose Bowl Selects Mountain View Seeds as Official Seed Supplier

Changes to the Rose Bowl field include new approach using top-rated Kentucky bluegrass varieties from Mountain View Seeds.

After more than a year of on-field trials and testing, Will Schnell, Head Groundskeeper, has selected Mountain View Seeds to be the official seed supplier to the Rose Bowl. Mountain View Seeds will provide the seed used on the Rose Bowl for the NCAA championship game.

Schnell made the decision to convert the Rose Bowl from a bermuda grass base overseeded with perennial ryegrass to a 100% Kentucky bluegrass sod for the Rose Bowl game for its superior density, tensile strength and ability to recover quickly after use. Schnell explained that the bluegrass sod is ideal for use during their 6-month cooler season from November through May. At this time UCLA plays and the annual Rose Bowl game takes place along with other major events. “During those months, in this part of California, it’s great bluegrass growing weather,” said Schnell.

The 3-way bluegrass brand called 365 SS (consisting of Bolt, Legend, and Blue Note) was also selected for its dark green color and excellent leaf texture. “It looks beautiful from the stands and on TV,” said Schnell. The 2016 Rose Bowl game and 2016 spring and early summer months showed Schnell that the bluegrass sod would hold up to the rigorous demands made on the field. “This field is used more than any other in the country and it has to be able to stand up to those extreme demands” said Schnell. “It also has to look great doing it. That’s why picking the right blend is so important – it has to do everything extremely well!”

The Rose Bowl is used roughly 300 days each year. In addition to the football season, the field is used for filming television ads, movies, and numerous events including soccer tournaments (2016 America’s Cup), concerts and even a moto cross event.

When Schnell began researching new species and varieties for the Rose Bowl, he relied heavily on the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP). The NTEP reports provided him with University data to make unbiased comparisons between cultivars. He noticed that Mountain View Seeds’ Kentucky bluegrass varieties consistently ranked at the top of the NTEP lists. After discussions with his partners at West Coast Turf, Schnell made the decision to plant a trial of 365 SS that would eventually be chosen for the Rose Bowl. After evaluating the test plots growth pattern and testing its strength, the decision was made to grow a field for use.

Mountain View Seeds worked with West Coast Turf and Schnell to grow the sod that would eventually become the Rose Bowl game field. Constant attention was paid to every aspect of growing the sod to ensure the highest quality product was delivered to Pasadena. Twenty-four truckloads of sod were used and the field was laid in 24 hours. The management practice used at the West Coast Turf sod farm in southern California was identical to the management practice Schnell would use at the Rose Bowl. This ensured a smooth transition when the sod was installed in Pasadena. Every detail was managed for optimum success, including matching the soil profiles at both locations.

This partnership marks a continued focus on top-quality customers for Mountain View Seeds. These partners include Shinnecock Hills (host of the 2018 US Open), Dodger Stadium (home of Major League Baseball’s LA Dodgers), FedEx Field (home of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins) and even The White House. “Being part of Will’s winning team really means a lot to our group,’ said Troy Kuenzi, President and CEO of Mountain View Seeds. “We pride ourselves on providing the best quality products to all of our customers and that’s something we have in common with Will and the Rose Bowl. We look forward to many years of success as partners.” said Kuenzi.

Mountain View Seeds is a global grass seed research, production, packaging, and marketing company. Based out of Salem, Oregon; in the heart of the Willamette Valley and the grass seed capital of the world, Mountain View Seeds provides top-quality varieties to customers around the world that demand the best cultivars.


For more information, contact Aaron Kuenzi at Mountain View Seeds 503-588-7333 or

More than Marketing…

Oregon Seed Association is more than just a group that markets seed to the world, we provide not only a foundation that is solid for today, but will bring lasting benefits for generations to come. Why in the United States alone, turf grass covers 46.5 million acres, from homes and recreation parks, to golf courses and sports fields. The benefits derived from the grasses we market include the cleansing of air—converting CO2 to oxygen. A 50 foot by 50 foot area of healthy turf grass will supply enough oxygen for a family of four. Another amazing attribute is its cooling capabilities. Eight front yards will have the same cooling effect as 70 tons of air conditioning!

Turf grass is hard on pollution as well, from cutting noise pollution, trapping dust and dirt that run off hard surfaces and also filtering the water and putting it back into the ecosystem. A good looking, healthy lawn can increase the value of your home by as much as $1,400. As for the return on investment of turf, almost half a million people are employed in the turf grass industry, with the turf grass industry being worth an estimated value of $45 billion dollars. So the next time you mow your lawn, go to the park or watch your next sporting event, remember these facts.

OSA is pleased to be part of the one of the original green industries, bringing enjoyment, beauty, and, of course, recreation to everyone. The Oregon Seed Association does more than just sell seed; we are part of the solution that makes life better and truly gives back to the environment.