World Cup pitches to feature Man. turfgrass seed

Professional-grade perennial ryegrass seed, harvested in Manitoba, is coming up green on the soccer pitches for this year’s FIFA World Cup events in South Africa.

Seed Research of Oregon and Pickseed Canada, both owned by the Ontario-based Pickseed Group, on Thursday confirmed their lead supply role to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, running June 11 to July 11.

In a release, Pickseed’s sister firm in Oregon quoted FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke as saying Cape Town’s ryegrass pitch should be treated as the “benchmark” for all World Cup stadiums.

“It’s just an amazing stadium, and all the teams who play in Cape Town, they will play in the perfect place,” Valcke said of that city’s 68,000-seat stadium.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup pitches feature four turfgrass varieties from Seed Research of Oregon: SR 4600 perennial ryegrass, Zoom perennial ryegrass, SR 2284 Kentucky bluegrass and Touche Kentucky bluegrass.

Those include seed from Pickseed’s turfgrass seed producers in Manitoba, which was then provided to Seed Research of Oregon’s facility at Corvallis, Ore., about 140 km south of Portland.

There, according to Pickseed, the Manitoba product was blended with Oregon-produced varieties of perennial ryegrass for shipment to South Africa.

Agricol, the distributor for Seed Research of Oregon’s products in South Africa, used a blend of 85 per cent perennial ryegrass and 15 per cent Kentucky bluegrass to provide “excellent, uniform playing surfaces for all sites,” noting the seed was “produced to exacting quality specifications in Oregon and Manitoba.”

The four varieties are on 75 game and practice pitches in new stadiums on bare new soil, as well as in renovated stadiums over existing Bermuda or kikuyu bases, and over existing cool-season turf bases.

The World Cup project began four years ago for Agricol, which noted it already supplies most of South Africa’s rugby stadiums and said it began seeding and reseeding in late February and early March for the World Cup events.

Loubser Wille, Agricol’s turf products manager, was quoted in the Oregon firm’s release as saying it’s “immensely satisfying to see the progress and the good feedback from FIFA’s turf reports on the various playing surfaces.

“The support and work being done by Seed Research of Oregon to supply us with these superior products was invaluable.”

The World Cup games are expected to be seen live by about 450,000 fans, 20,000 journalists and 300 broadcasters. The cumulative audience of the 64 World Cup matches starting June 11 is expected to be over 26 billion.

The Pickseed Group, based at Lindsay, Ont., bought Seed Research of Oregon, a producer and supplier of bentgrass, warm season grasses and forage crop seeds, from U.S.-based Land O’Lakes in 2004. Pickseed has operated a seed contracting and production unit in Manitoba since 1960.