Which Brand and Variety of Seed Do You Use

davidnjNovember 17, 2010

Last time I reseeded (6 years ago) I used Pennington coated TTTF/BGW mix. Coated, but the varieties varied with no specific pattern. This time I probed a bit further since lots of seeding guides recommend specific varieties.

Tall Fescure for Sports Fiejds

I found this history of turf-type tall fescue:

TURF-TYPE TALL FESCUES by Richard Hurley, Vice President, Lofts Seed, Inc., Bound Brook, NJ

And there are regional and national rankings of different varieties:

Performance of Tall Fescue Cultivars and Selections in NJ Turf Trials

Performance of Kentucky Bluegrass Cultivars and Selections in NJ Turf Trials

Many of these varieties are from specific manufacturers like Lebanon Turf in PA and Turf Merchants in Oregon. They sell seed and mixes, but generally you are constrained to what distributors that will sell to home owners carry.

This is Lebanon's list of products: Lebanon Turf Grass Seeds. Note that each mix has specific varieties.

Some of the TTTFs have been bread to have rhizones and some spreading capability. Turf Mechants labels them as SRP: Self-Repair Potential.

So, what varieties do people like most? Which mixes? Is any NJ distributor particlularly good? From talking to dealers it seems golf courses using this for the rough are primary uses.



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Golf courses, parks, and their ilk grow particular types of grass for definite purposes.
It would look kind of silly for a golf green to grow Kentucky Blue or Fesuce when the grass type for such use is Bentgrass. Roughs also have a specific job to do, to confuse the guy hitting a ball out of it so they'll put something like what the Scots do, throw a monkey into the mix, like heather or fescue or some other way to take hits from the irons without tearing it out.
I've always had the idea that one should grow what does best in climatic conditions prevalent for the area. St Augastine, zoysia, and other southern types for southern locales; K.B., fescue, rye's and their kind for northern cool season lawns. To try to fool mother nature into thinking a southern type can do just as good where the snow flies is taking on somebody who you just cant win....so why try.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 12:53PM
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When I decided to renovate my front yard in 2009 I spent a good bit of time deciding which culitvars of TTTF I was going to use. I used the current NTEP trials (www.ntep.org) and picked three cultivars that tested well in turf quality, blade thickness, color, and disease resistance. I decided to use Firecracker LS, Cochise IV, and Faith. Finding suppliers for TTTF isn't as easy as KBG, but with a little research and some phone calls I located all three varieties. The Hogan Company (Tenn) carries many of the newer TTTF's, and they have Faith and Cochise IV. I had to buy 50 lbs. of Firecracker, but it was only about 100 bucks including shipping. FM Brown and Sons (Penn) carries that particular cultivar. If you can't find a seller online for a particular variety call the grower, they will help you find a distributor.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 2:13PM
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To tiemco: You were very wise to consult the NTEP trial results for your choices of turfgrass seed. It's what I use to choose turf seed varities from year to year.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 7:55PM
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I just did my first TTTF renovation this fall and I basically did what Tiemco suggested. I used information from this forum and information I got from the NTEP trials (http://www.ntep.org/contents2.shtml)focusing on the results for my region (Raleigh NC).

I ended up using SC-1 seed from The Hogan Company. I also got a Faith, Rhambler and Firecracker mix from Seed Express (https://www.seedsuperstore.com/cookiesrequired.asp) in your area (NY).

So far, other than some chickweed, the lawn looks great. I think getting good quality seed based on the NTEP results for my growing area was a very good decision. I don't think I will ever buy seed any other way.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 8:23PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

The NTEP is excellent, but so is reading the seed bag. I did a survey this year of many, many seed purchases and determined that people buying big-box seed bags are getting a bad deal. When adjusted for cost-per-1000-sq-ft, "Elite KBG" was the CHEAPEST solution at $12.50 per 1000 sq ft. TTTF and PR lawn seed purchased online was a bit more expensive, ranging up to $18 per 1000 sq ft. The worst? Pennington "Sun and Shade" purchased at HD at $74 per 1000 sq ft, and Scott's EZ-Seed at almost $275 per 1000 sq ft!!!! Read the bags and know what you're buying! That coating and "fluff" in the bag of the new all-in-one seeds is very expensive, and is as little as 8% seed.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 11:06PM
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There is some virus on this site tonight trying to bring up a dead website when you click on the page, including this editing area. Annoying.

NTEP has three maintenance schedules. Many of the seeds report there performance on Schedule A. In their own adds they highlight a test for an obscure year. NTEP doesn't seem to rank by Schedule C, but does by A&B. I looked at the Schedule B rankings for NJ.

Also had a conversation with the seed guy at Lebanon, tried to track down different seeds. It is off season, and if a distributor is stocked out, they are stocked out until March. SeedSuperstore only lists two Turf Merchants cultivars (both good ones) and a blend of those two and a third (also good). I did find Lebanon's Winning Colors, Winning Colors Plus (adds bluegrass), and SportTurf (80% specific fescues, 10% rye, 10% bluegrass about an hour away. Note, I need about 500#, shipping is an issue.

I sorted the Schedule B list my NJ1, New Brunswick. Using the links you guys posted I identified the #2 Bullseye, #3 Mustang 4, and #5 Cochise IV. Now the question is it worth getting these shipped over a mix from Lebanon that includes #7 Van Gogh and an unranked on this scale DaVinci? I noticed another unranked one which was deep green and had roadside as an application. Several claim high rhizome growth, not a TTTF characteristic, and not included in the NTEP reports. All the ranked ones were 8.0 or 8.2. Could we really tell a 7.0 from an 8.0 without a back-to-back comparison?

I'm wondering if getting the Winning Colors from the local distributor is the best choice. $.90 or $1.25/pound, without and with bluegrass, respectively. I guess the bluegrass nearly doubles the amount of seed. Net, probably around the same cost.

SCHEDULE A (High Maintenance/Fairway)
1. Mowing height: 0.5" to 0.75"
2. Nitrogen rate (lbs. N/1000 sq. ft./growing month): 0.5 - 0.75
3. Irrigation: To prevent visual drought stress or dormancy
4. Fungicide use only if severe stand loss is possible
5. Weed and insect control to prevent stand loss
SCHEDULE B (Medium Maintenance/Athletic Field)
1. Mowing height: 1.0" to 2.0"
2. Nitrogen rate (lbs. N/1000 sq. ft./growing month): 0.5 - 1.0
(high rate used during establishment only)
3. Irrigation: To prevent dormancy, only during severe stress or none
4. Fungicide use only if severe stand loss is possible
5. Weed and insect control to prevent stand loss
SCHEDULE C (Home Lawn)
1. Mowing height: 1.5" to 2.5"
2. Nitrogen rate (lbs. N/1000 sq. ft./growing month): 0.3 - 0.5
3. Irrigation: None, only during severe stress or to prevent dormancy
4. No fungicides or insecticides used
5. Weed control to prevent significant stand loss 2

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 12:38AM
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My estimate is equipment rentals will be over $400. Soil prep treatments (lime, etc.) could be another few hundred. And it will probably take over 40 hours of work.

A difference in seed cost between $500 and $1000 is important. But $600-700 in other expenses plus 40 hours of moderately hard work outdoors in December weather is also a big investment and getting it right is important.

I epect to leave the current dead grass. The soil will be treated, aerated, and then the seed dropped in north-south/east-west pattern using a Ryan overseeded which cuts slits 2" apart and trops the seed through tubes into the slits.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 12:49AM
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I guess shipping cost is a factor when you need 500 lbs. I was only seeding ~ 5500 sqft. I did find some decent seed per the NTEP trial in some pre mixed bags. But that was after I purchased my seed. I also noticed a few things. Some varieties were tested in previous years but not in other subsequent years. I noticed DaVinci as being mentioned favorably in one of the years.

Also, your question about the difference between an 8.0 and a 7.0 score is valid. NTEP includes the LSD value (1/ TO DETERMINE STATISTICAL DIFFERENCES AMONG ENTRIES, SUBTRACT ONE ENTRY'S MEAN FROM ANOTHER ENTRY'S MEAN. STATISTICAL DIFFERENCES OCCUR WHEN THIS VALUE IS LARGER THAN THE CORRESPONDING LSD VALUE (LSD 0.05) ). When you factor this in you may not âÂÂseeâ much difference between some of the rankings of seeds. I am not a statistician but have worked with and supported them for 25 plus years and I know that sometimes there is not as much difference between things as it may appear to be.

I want share my experience with reading the seed label on the bag. Here in NC I looked at the seed content of a 25 lb. bag of Rebel. I then picked up a 5 lb. bag of the same Rebel. Was the exact same bag as the 25 lb. bag. Not one bit of difference. Same store, same city, same state. But the content displayed on the seed label was different.
So now I am curious. I then went to the two big box stores and a smaller store. Upon close inspection saw the same thing with different brands. I found an example in each store I went to.
So clearly someone bought a 25 lb bag and a 5 lb bag with the expectation that they were getting the same seed when in fact they were not. So I learned that you have to read the label on each bag you purchase and donâÂÂt assume anything.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 9:41AM
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The schedules you posted (A B and C) are for KBG, not TTTF. If you read the maintenance schedules for TTTF you will see they are similar, and no irrigation is provided in the summer months for either schedule.
1. MOWING HEIGHT: 2.0" TO 3.0"

1. MOWING HEIGHT: 2.5" TO 3.5"

TTTF doesn't vary as much as KBG, but obviously certain cultivars look and perform better in NJ than others, and it is worth your effort to buy those. Since you need 500 lbs. it would be a pain to mix your own blend in that quantity, and much easier to have it mixed for you. Shipping costs are also a factor in that amount, so I understand you want to buy locally, but that means you are bound to what your local provider carries. I wouldn't put too much stock in TTTF with high rhizome activity. I have a small area of a newer cultivar that is suppose to have great spreading ability, yet I haven't witnessed much yet. Also a 2005 U of Kansas study has shown that regular TTTF has as much spreading ability as some of the earlier high rhizome TTTF, and spreading usually starts when the grass is 3-4 years old. Since you are having trouble finding top cultivars I took a look at The Hogan Company's seed list and the NTEP rankings and they have Faith, Cochise IV, Van Gogh, and Falcon V which are ranked between 7.8-8.2 in NJ1. It might be worth your time to give them a call and get an idea what it would cost to ship 500 lbs to you.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 10:52AM
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Thanks for the maintenance schedule correction. That means we are closer to "A" than "B".

I called Hogan; they can put together a Cochise IV (the real Cochise would be in a state of shock to have grass seed named after him), Falcon V, and Van Gogh for about $1.60/lb. My guess is shipping will bring that to about $2/lb, double the local Winning Colors.

The knock on Winning Colors is that DaVinci and Rembrant, about 2/3rds the mix, are older varieties and are below the top LCD range. Actually, DaVinci wasn't submitted for the 2006 test. The counter is Lebanon delviers a good consistant seed and the differences aren't big enough for 99+% of experienced observers to tell the difference. It would also be $500 less.

Going straight TTTF without KBG it will probably be essential to do a fall overseeding. So I could add Cochise/Falcon then.

Another thing that has come up is when to seed. i was going to leave the dead grass (a light mat that can withstand an Echo 770 backpack blower). However two companies have recommended waiting to February and using a spreader to drop/broadcast the seed, letting the snow take it down to the ground. They felt if dropped in slits in December it would be pushed to deep over the winter reducing and delaying germination. What is the right answer?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 1:37PM
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I don't have that much experience with dormant seeding, but if that dead grass mat prevents the seed from making contact with the soil then you will have reduced germination. Instead of slit seeding you might want to power rake the areas and remove a lot of the dead stuff to expose the soil, then broadcast your seed before a good snowfall.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 12:48AM
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