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Kentucky bluegrass and rough bluegrass are the two major grasses grown for seed in central Oregon. The COARC focus has been on pest management, crop nutrition, evaluation of plant growth regulators, and non-thermal residue management.
Central Oregon is not competitive with the Willamette Valley for seed production of ryegrass, tall fescue and hard red fescue grasses. However, areas east side of the Cascade Mountains are more competitive for the production of Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) seed and rough bluegrass (Poa trivialis).
Production of grass seed in central Oregon began back in the 1950’s with Merion bluegrass. A number of Kentucky bluegrass varieties have been grown over the years. Production of bluegrass seed has remained relatively stable in recent years, but is less than historic highs. The Kentucky bluegrass market for seed produced in central Oregon includes the midwest and east coast of the United States.
Increased production of rough bluegrass has competed for acres and impacted the Kentucky bluegrass industry. Rough bluegrass was first grown in central Oregon in the mid 1970’s. Rough bluegrass now accounts for one-third to half the bluegrass acreage in central Oregon. Rough bluegrass seed is shipped to the southern portion of the United States where it is used for overseed golf course greens and landscape areas in the winter.
Kentucky bluegrass is planted from mid to late August and harvested during July, while rough bluegrass is planted in early to mid September and harvested from late June through early July. Rough also has a shallower root structure and requires more water than the Kentucky bluegrass.