Beginning the fall of 2003 we planted observation plots and have every year since. They are 4’ by 22’ plots planted in 4 rows by an Almaco push planter at a rate equivalent to 5 lbs./acre, seeded the third week of August every planting season. In 2014, we constructed a cone seeder to automate our planting process. This facilitated greater accuracy in the distribution of the seed. It also allows us to plant a larger number of cultivars to evaluate.
We are attempting to achieve many goals with our observation plots:
- We plant all of the Kentucky bluegrass seed stock we have planted in commercial fields.
- We plant multiple known cultivars of Kentucky bluegrass for comparisons.
- We plant multiple experimental cultivars from many different commercial turf grass breeders.
After planting we evaluate emergence and while the plants are vegetative we observe; sward width, sward density, and genetic color. As the growing season matures disease observations are the next step. Primary disease pressures that we see and take note of are powdery mildew and stem rust. Next is relative maturity dates, we note experimental cultivars against much known varieties. The last step is making judgments about the harvestability characteristics of experimental cultivars against known cultivars. We evaluate seed size, seed quantity, cotton or no cotton, bushel weight and relative harvest dates.
Our climate and cultural practices facilitate fall planting of cool season grasses and a full harvest the following June. Our latitude Washington production 46° latitude and Oregon production 45°50” latitude, day lengths (almost 16 hrs. at the longest), average growing degree days (western states regional climate center) and available water make our region ideal for seed production.