What You Need to Know about Grass Seed

Posted by Mark Wilton on

What you need to know about grass seed is based purely on most asked questions l receive and l hope this blog answers a few of your own Grass Seed Questions.

Do bags of grass seed contain Poa annua or other weed seeds and if so, what percentage?

How much chaff should a groundskeeper reasonably expect in a bag of grass seed?

Grass seed must be certified to a minimal standard to be legally sold in the UK.  For Perennial Rye, the legal minimum standard for purity is 96%. This means that a bag should contain a minimum of 96% viable seed with no more than 4% inert matter or weed seed.

There is a HVS (Higher Voluntary Standard) to which Limagrain UK adhere. That is a minimum of 98% viable seed and no more than 2% inert matter or weed seed.

Limagrain UK endeavor to provide as close to 100% viable seed in each and every bag.

Importantly, batch numbers ensure every bag’s contents are traceable and accountable.

Grass Seed

What makes the best seed for your site and how do groundskeepers choose the right seed?

All sites and scenarios are different and may require different approaches with regards to sward composition. 

Different pressures on turf may include drought, disease and high volumes of traffic and wear.  It is important to choose not only the correct species but also the correct cultivar.

The best seed mixture is the one that performs to the highest standard required for the venue. Speak with your Limagrain UK area technical manager whom can advise on your specific circumstances. 

Another useful guide is the BSPB Turfgrass Seed booklet, within this document you will find independent trials data on different species and cultivars. 

A mixture is what is used in a sports turf sward rather than a single cultivar, however all individual components of a mixture can be found within this document.

Grass Pitch

How many Groundskeepers/Greenkeepers get their own seed mix made up and do you see this as a big advantage to them?

By far, the majority of turf managers purchase branded mixtures. These mixtures have been created and trialed successfully and are constantly evolving as cultivars continue to improve.

Ranges and mixtures are created to cover a wide range of sports turf scenarios which include winter sports, golf, summer sports, equine and professional landscaping.

All mixture’s components have undergone trials and have proven capabilities.

Bespoke mixtures can be created upon request if a need is established and an off the shelf mix doesn’t fulfill a unique situation.

How much factors into the price of a bag of grass seed? Prices can vary, do you get what you pay for?

Ultimately, the cost will be reflected by the quality and cleanliness of the product.  The species and cultivars within the MM and designer ranges are trialed and tested and receive professional technical support.

Size and weight of seed are also factors which dictate pricing.  Using two examples of species from either end of the size spectrum, A bag of Perennial Rye is much cheaper than a bag of Browntop Bent. 

Perennial Rye seeds are approximately 750 seeds/g. Bent seeds are 10000 seeds/g, all species have different size seeds which affect how much is added to a mixture.

The percentage on the label is the amount per weight of the bag’s contents, not the established sward composition.

Production and cleaning costs will vary by species. Typically, finer species require more cleaning to achieve the required standard of purity.

Non-coated vs coated seed?

Seed coatings or treatments may be applied as fertiliser, wetting agent, fungicide or bio stimulants.

The principle of seed treatment is to sustain the plant to enable successful establishment.  In effect, the seed is carrying its own survival kit. The product is, directly accessible to where the seedling plant requires it to be i.e. around the seed. 

The benefit of establishing a sward more quickly is to get the seedling through the danger zone where desiccation is a real threat. A faster establishing sward also prevents Poa annua from establishing on bare ground or thinner swards.

Trials show that treated seed will establish more quickly than untreated. Seed treatments can also benefit the infant plant during various environmental times of stress. 

All mixtures within MM and Designer ranges are treated with the headstart gold formula. headstart gold is a seed treatment formulated using micro nutrients, biostimulants and seaweed to ensure rapid establishment.

Grass Pitch

Can you tell us a bit about creeping ryegrass and what sports turf this suits best?

Creeping ryegrass, Lolium perenne

Creeping ryegrasses are Ryegrasses that produce determinate stolons just below the soil surface.  These stolons can develop rooting systems and create independent plants capable of reproduction.

Many Perennial Rye cultivars show the potential to produce determinate stolons in a laboratory environment.  Several of these cultivars are listed in USA as a sub species Lolium perenne ssp stoloniferum.

Typically, creeping varieties tend to be used in hard wearing turf where any weakness in the sward would allow the plant to produce stoloniferous growth.

These mixture compositions tend to not be used in very short mowing scenarios such as cricket or tennis where the plants crown directly affects sporting performance.

What makes your seed mixes stand out from the competition?

MM range is trusted by many high-end sports facilities. From premiership football and rugby stadia, championship tennis, golf, national hunt and flat racing and professional landscapers.

Mixtures have proven themselves time and time again.

Limagrain UK has a solid reputation for providing high quality and clean products.

All MM and Designer mixtures are treated with the headstart gold formula.

From the technical managers to the customer service department to the warehouse staff, everybody at Limagrain is committed to providing the customer with first class service.

If you have any further Grass Seed Questions, just leave a comment below and myself or Brian will get back to you.

Sam Horner

Limagrain Field Seeds

Amenity Seed Sales Specialist – Southern England

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