Oregon grass seed acreage available for harvest this summer is about the same as last year, indicating the industry has stabilized after some rough years during the recession.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service in Portland estimated farmers will harvest 125,000 acres of annual ryegrass, 109,000 acres of perennial ryegrass, 125,000 acres of turf type tall fescue, 16,000 acres of forage type tall fescue and 11,000 acres of K-31 and other types of tall fescue. The figures closely match 2014 harvest totals.
Oregon leads the nation in grass seed production, but the industry was hit hard by the recession starting in 2009. Grass seed demand often parallels development, as it is used for lawns, sports fields, parks and pastures.
In years past, Oregon farmers planted up to 190,000 acres in annual ryegrass alone. Industry officials don’t expect a return to those levels, as some grass seed fields have been replaced by permanent crops such as hazelnuts and blueberries.
Grass seed production is worth an estimated $411 million annually, ranking fifth among Oregon crops in 2013, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
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