NASS: Oregon Grass Seed Acreage Increases

By Eric Mortenson
Capital Press–

In a contiinued modest recovery, Oregon grass seed plantings increase slightly from 2013.

A survey of Oregon grass seed growers shows they’ve planted more perennial and annual ryegrass than in 2013, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service.

Tall fescue plantings for turf also are up slightly from last year, NASS reported. Forage and K-31 lawn type tall fescue plantings are the same as 2013.

Roger Beyer, executive director of the Oregon Seed Council, said the increased acreage available for harvest in 2014 is evidence of a continued modest recovery of the grass seed industry, which like nursery plant production is linked to development and fell hard when the housing market collapsed five years ago.

“I’m pleased it’s up, I’m also pleased it’s up only slightly,” Beyer said. “In the past we’ve had a habit of over-production.”

As things now stand, growers are looking at a “pretty positive market” and are cautiously optimistic, Beyer said.

Grass seed production of all types was Oregon’s sixth most valuable crop in 2012, worth $411 million.

Annual ryegrass plantings total 129,000 acres this year, up from 128,000 harvested in 2013. Perennial ryegrass plantings are at 112,000 acres, up from 99,000 last year. Tall fescue turf plantings are at 118,000 acres this year, compared to 110,000 in 2013. Forage fescue and K-31 and other fescue types remain stable at 15,000 acres and 13,000 acres, respectively.

Beyer said annual ryegrass plantings have held steady at about 120,000 acres a year, but in peak years growers planted 180,000 to 190,000 acres of perennial ryegrass.

Growers reported overall crop conditions to be “fairly good,” according to NASS, although some stands have browning due to freeze damage. Some growers reported having trouble establishing new plantings due to slugs, cutworms and voles.

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