Acreage shrinks for grass seed
First grass seed survey since 1978 drew 80 percent participation
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Oregon's first official grass seed survey in more than 30 years showed grass seed acreage available for harvest in 2013 is down in three of the four major species, with only turf type tall fescue acreage up from a year ago.
The 123,000 acres available for harvest in annual ryegrass are down 3 percent from 2012, according to the survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The 101,000 acres available for harvest in perennial ryegrass are down 3 percent from 2012, according to the survey. And the 17,000 acres of forage type tall fescue available for harvest this year are down 5 percent from 2012 harvested acres.
The 107,000 acres of turf-type tall fescue available for harvest in 2013 are up 5 percent from 2012 acreage. And the 7,000 acres of Kentucky 31 and other varieties of tall fescue available for harvest in 2013 are 2 percent more than were harvested in 2012.
The survey, the first USDA has conducted on Oregon grass seed since 1978, drew 80 percent participation, said Oregon State Statistician Chris Mertz.
"I was very impressed with the response rate," he said.
NASS conducted the survey under contract with the Oregon Ryegrass and Oregon Tall Fescue commissions. The Oregon Seed Council, Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association and Oregon Seed Association also signed on as supporters of the survey in a letter mailed growers.
"It is huge when all those organizations put their name on that letter and say, 'This is important,'" Mertz said.
Mertz said the first time NASS conducted a grass seed survey in Oregon, in 1976, just 10 percent of growers responded. The survey was abandoned in 1978 for lack of interest.
Asked if he plans to do more grass seed surveys, Mertz said that is up to the industry.