pennington seed

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by captdevo, Sep 19, 2001.

  1. captdevo

    captdevo LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 932

    my seed dealer is starting to carry pennington seed.

    We don't have a Lesco near by, i used to get bulk from them, but always ended up sitting on a bunch.

    pros?

    cons?
     
  2. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476

    If you live near a major Turf Science or Ag School, you may allready have access to the answer. Check the varieties that Pennington is marketing & go look at the test plots yourself. Try to learn who the universities professor in charge of test plots is and get to know that person. If you're an alumni or ask to be installed on a mailing list, they may send you copies of the periodic updates before they are even published. These periodic updates are how NTEP produces it's performance tables.
    NTEP (National Turfgrass Evaluation Program) is our only tool available to evaluate how the big seed companies are really doing and they are as unbiased as it gets. NTEP is at least partially funded by our tax dollars. But the source of NTEP's data is the big Turf Schools like Penn State, Rutgers, & URI (the ones nearest me)etc, etc. I get really nervous whenever a turf seed producer contributes a big cash donation to one or several of these schools to help fund research. These donations sound innocent, but I've seen a shift in preference at "some" schools following a donation. Got my drift?
    That said, point the old browser to:

    www.ntep.org/data2.htm

    Navigate this site to lookup the varieties being offered & compare them to what you've been using. Some varieties that are commercially marketed aren't listed on this site and you may not find them in the archives either. That's because some smaller seed co.'s don't own any quality patented varieties, so they sell old stuff that hasn't been submitted by anyone for the trial tests in many years. Try to stay away from this junk. Great, cutting edge varieites are real easy to get and probably won't cost any more. In the long run, proper varietial selection will save money for you, because your lawns will look better on a more attractive budget. So you end up with happier customers that help sell your services.
    Some points to consider when veiwing the data.
    1.) Every table has a LSD value. LSD = Lowest Statistical Difference. If a variety you like has obtained a value of 6.7, and the LSD for the site you are veiwing data from is .7, then all the listings with values from 6.0 and 7.4 are then considered equal in performance. When you take these LSD values into honest consideration, most of the vlaues on the NTEP tables are much easier to work with. Without the LSD, the number of values seems unfathomable. In reality, there are only 3-4 groupings on any given report (ie the first 3 pages of data in a 4 page report) worth looking at. The final page of an "order ranked" report is usually the bad page with old or very bad entries as well as the common un-improved grass type which is there for comparison only.
    2.) Different locations differ widely at times. In some cases it is environmental (weather, soil). In others it is cultural practices. Just try to remember what I said about "financial/political preferences". Also consider who does the judging at these sites. It may be tenured professors. It can be graduate students.
    3.) Test plots look different depending on where the sun is when the evaluation is done. Mower direction alters the look of the plot too.
    4.) Try to place your decision making weight on more than one site location that shares your areas basic agronomic conditions. Don't over-weigh just one location because it's near you or because you went to school there. There could be flawed data coming from that site, so look at a few.
    5.) Seed companies often have new varities in the trials, but the published varieties aren't available for sale. This drives me crazy (I sell seed among other things). Some published data is for seed types that may be several years away from your being able to purchase them.
    6.) Likewise, I have a few varieties of Perennial Ryegrass & Kentucky Bluegrass available for sale that are too new for NTEP progress reports. The test plots are installed every 5 years or so. If a seed company has a new "super-variety" for sale, check NTEP. It may not be there. Ask the sales people to provide the varieties history in writing. If it's an old worn out variety, the smoke show will start pretty fast. If it's a credible new entry, the management should be able to provide you with it's historical origin as well as some preliminary performance data. It may not be easy for sales people to obtain this data, they may not even know who to call for it. If it means much to you, be persistant, managers will get you the info you seek if you're buying enough seed to make it worth their while.
    7.) Don't place any decision making value on the so-called "reprinted university test data" that often appears in trade magazines and direct mailers. I can customize the NTEP data (legally!) right from the above mentioned URL just as easily as anyone else. I could omit all my competitors, if they're kicking my butt and I don't want you to know. I can include those whi I'm beating instead. I can then ask for and get NTEP's permission to circulate the shadowy data and noone can stop me. Gotta love marketing people huh?
    8.) If a seed tag dosen't list the name of a variety, then it's probably either common (stay away unless you're hydro-seeding a park or road side) or a named variety that for some reason, cannot legally have the name on the tag. Seed co.'s may sell off surplus seed to their competitors rather than holding it too long. Depending on the price it's sold for, and who's buying, the 2 companies will create a binding contract that makes the determination. You'll probably never know. Assume the worst.
    9.) Some of the best varieties are available from a number of sources. Not just the owner of that variety. Also, some varieties are no longer patent protected, but are so good that they still go into all the trials. Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass hasn't been patented for years but has become a standrd entry. Midnight can be purchased from many, many suppliers. So don't get too nervous if your favorite supplier dosen't produce a great showing at the NTEP trials. They may still have access to the good-stuff. But you could pay a lot more for it, so watch out.

    Keep in mind too, that some seed companies more or less specialize in retail or consumer seed. This junk is grown on the lower slopes of Oregon on fields that (thankfully) the "good" seed producers won't use. These older field are pretty much "cropped-out" and loaded with weeds. The more desirable northern slopes are harder to get to. As such they haven't been over-used & under-managed. But, it costs more money to grow in these disrable locations. That's why the good stuff costs more. I am fortunate to work for a company whos seed division won't go near the bad fields. It costs more for us to contract the better fields, but it pays off in the long run. None of the "good guys" are going to waste 5-8 years contracting a grower who's land and professional practices are in question. The seed from these fields usually ends up in the "big-box" department stores, right next to the laundry detergant. But there's allways some "wholesale landscaper store" ready to take a shot a duping you out of your money with this stuff if they can. If you do your homework, they won't be able to burn you.

    Learn how to read a seed tag. A blend of the best varities is still no value if it contains a lot of inert material (chaff, dirt, etc), or contains a large amount of weeds. Hint, ungerminated Perennial Ryegrass is listed as "Other Crop" on a seed tag. This won't harm the blend at all if all else is good. So learn what the tag means!!!

    Some of the biggest seed buyers aren't concerned with quality. They buy 20 tons at clip for hydro-seeding subdivisions, highway road sides, parks, landfills, etc.) and price is their biggest concern. Recognizing this, you must keep in mind that the seed company big hitters blend all sorts of offerings. We sell everything form Gold Tagged Maryland Sod Growers Association seed (the toughest state) to the worst bags of DOT roadside garbage and everthing in between. We even do the best certified Creeping Bentgrasses for putting greens on the best golf courses in the world. BUT WE DON'T USE THE SAME MIXERS. We can't, our reputation and the potential for legal disputes makes using the same mixers a no-brainer decision. But a small seed compamy may not have a choice. They'll instaed try to clean their eqipment between odd runs. This is costly as well as nearly impossible to pull off during the busier times of the year. They HATE companies that have the resources to own and mantain multiple mixers. I don't blame them for being a little jealous, but I've heard some pretty creative justifications for a variety of corporate "differences" over the years.

    Since I work for LESCO, I don't think it would be ethical to use this forum to try to sell anyone on our materials. You can use the above provided data to make your own decisions. I will say, however that most all seed companies (including us) ship seed to those who are not close enough to pick up. Our freight paid minimum is $600-$800, which is not exactly a boat load of seed. Less than that & you pay the freight. Calling for a quote on material+freight may still be cheaper in many cases, than buying seed from a reseller instead of a producer.

    I hope this helps. Steve
     
  3. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Posts: 3,486

    Great post.

    No way would I use Pennington seed.
     

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