Lawn Seed Quality

April 21, 2021

So, how do you really know whether the seed you are spreading to your lawn is any good? Will it germinate? Will it be true to type? And will it be weed free?

Often, these are the questions that are asked by homeowners after they’ve spent hours upon dusty hours preparing their yard for sowing their new lawn.

Well, you‘ll be pleased to know that the majority of lawn seed is tested by an independent testing laboratory for all these attributes. This international seed certification program is undertaken throughout the world and is an initiative by the OECD, WTO & the UN. Initially, it was commenced to improve the quality of seed used for agriculture. It allows the buyer to determine germination percentage, number & type of weed seeds, the amount of foreign material such as chaff or straw and that it is true to cultivar.

It’s the next part where this becomes interesting!

The seed that has been tested and meets the appropriate criteria has a blue tag stitched into the bag.  If that bag is then re-opened to be blended with alternative seeds, it no longer qualifies as certified seed.  Typically, the highest quality seed grown in NZ is exported.  Furthermore, all the seed still gets sold, regardless of its weed content or its tested germination rate. Much of the lower grade seed get covered with pretty coloured coatings that are described as being “bird repellents”, “fertilisers” and/or “fungicides”.  These are normally available as domestic packs often sold in cut price or bulk stores as lawn seed for residential homes. Interestingly, international scientific research has for a long time proven that these treatments will decrease the germination percentage. Secondly, much of the weight of the seed being purchased is comprised of these coatings. This implies that for each kilo of coated seed beng purchased, the homeowner is actually receiving less that 50% of the weight in actual seed!

FINELAWN is one of the largest buyers of lawn seed in New Zealand. All our seed goes through an exacting process to be sure of the quality of the seed that is being purchased. Obviously, as the largest turf producer in the country, we simply can’t afford to sow a 20 hectare field for turf in a seed that is either weed infested or is not true to type. For that reason, we only buy “sod quality “seed. This is seed that has been tested to determine that it has no impurities and is the highest grade and highest priced seed available internationally.  If we cannot source an appropriate line within NZ (which is our preference) then we will source it overseas, normally from the USA.  Sometimes, our production staff will actually travel to mid-Canterbury pre-harvest to visually assess the fields before the seed is harvested. Furthermore, if we are uncomfortable regarding the source we will also ask for it to be re-tested before agreeing to purchase that line.

This great seed is the lawn seed we sell to our customers. Pure, unblended, certified, sod quality seed. Undoubtedly, the highest quality seed on the open market and packaged into convenient sized bags. For environmental reasons, these are currently in the process of being converted from plastic bags to paper bags.

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