Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International

H2A Seasonal Labor Program Survey

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee is seeking comments from farmers about seasonal labor/workforce issues. A bipartisan working group of House members from the committee created earlier this year is now asking producers to provide input on ag labor issues including the H2A program. One of the most serious complaints about this ag visa program are its high costs, especially the annual AEWR wage rates issued by the USDOL. Go to the House Ag Committee website to learn more, or you can also click the green button below to go directly to the survey. Please complete this survey and have your voice heard on this important topic.

TPI Member Farm Hosts Research Group

The State Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) was in West Tennessee from June 5-7 to tour farms and discuss pesticide issues relevant to U.S. Farmers. As part of their conference, they spent the morning of June 6th on TPI President Bob McCurdy’s sod farm in Dyer, TN where Bob McCurdy and Casey Reynolds, PhD shared information about the sod farming industry. You can read more about this event by clicking the link below. Thanks to Kim Brown, Extension specialist at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and lead organizer of the event for organizing this tour.

National Turfgrass Federation Proposals for Farm Bill

The National Turfgrass Federation is seeking help with two proposals for current and upcoming Farm Bill discussions. Those proposals include seeking new potential research avenues under the current farm bill’s High Priority Research & Extension section.  NTF got turf language in the 2018 bill (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) which defines its research priorities under the National Turfgrass Research Initiative.  Traditionally, AFRI awards have been allocated almost exclusively to traditional row crop/food and fiber agriculture.  NTF believes the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI) would open opportunities for more turfgrass research which addresses critical needs.  Among those would include environmental protection, consumer health and athlete safety, solutions for sustainable turfgrass cultivars and management systems, and increased innovative techniques to address these and future issues.  NTRI’s proposed annual authorized funding level would not exceed $20,000,000 per fiscal year, and matching funds and performance reviews would be part of this proposal as directed by Congress.

The second initiative is a Turfgrass Economic Value Statistics Study. It would be national in scope and conducted once every five years by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).   NTF proposes a TurfgrassEconomic Value and Utilization survey to be conducted every five years by USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS).  Comprehensive data would be collected to provide detailed analysis of total acreage (residential, commercial, recreational, governmental, and other areas); also, commercial and retail-related employment, equipment sales, and other economic items.  National and regional economic impacts would also be covered.  Both of these proposals could enhance and showcase the value of the natural grass industry to legislators, policy-makers, and the general public.

For enactment of these two proposals, NTF is focused on the following Members: leadership on both House and Senate Agriculture Committees (Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-PA and Rep. David Scott, D-GA; and, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI and Sen. John Boozman, R-AR).  Additional Members include House Reps. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Jim Baird (R-IN), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), and Andy Harris (R-MD) and Senators. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and both of Iowa’s Republican Members Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst. If you have any connections with these representatives or their offices and would like to be involved, please reach out directly at or (847) 737-1846.

2023 International Turfgrass Congress Recap from Toledo Spain

2023 International Turfgrass Congress Recap from Toledo, Spain

The 2023 International Turfgrass Congress in Toledo, Spain brought together the turfgrass production, golf, and sports field industries across Europe for three days of education and field demonstrations. TPI and the European Turfgrass Producers Association, among many others, were sponsors of this event and met to discuss how to continue to serve turfgrass producers from around the world. The over-arching theme of the event was Sustainability and Technology and included speakers from many European countries, as well as the United States, who primarily spoke about how to continue to address sustainability in the green industry through new and improved practices, technologies, varieties, and so on. I was there myself to share recent consumer research on the new and emerging trends of how sustainability is now showing up as a motivating factor in purchasing decisions.

Did you know that between 51 and 95% of consumers are willing to pay more for products, including turfgrasses, that they perceive as more sustainable? Inversely, if consumers do not see products as sustainable, they increasingly will simply just not purchase them. How do we as industry continue to meet consumer demands with grasses, practices, and technologies that fit within these emerging trends? For a full recap of the 2023 International Turfgrass Congress and to read more about sustainability, be on the lookout for more on this topic in future issues of Turf News magazines.


USDA Disaster Relief Programs for Specialty Crop Producers

he U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2020 and 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments totaling approximately $6 billion through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset crop yield and value losses.

“For over two years, farmers and ranchers across the country have been hard hit by an ongoing pandemic coupled with more frequent and catastrophic natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “As the agriculture industry deals with new challenges and stressors, we at USDA look for opportunities to inject financial support back into the rural economy through direct payments to producers who bear the brunt of circumstances beyond their control. These emergency relief payments will help offset the significant crop losses due to major weather events in 2020 and 2021 and help ensure farming operations are viable this crop year, into the next growing season and beyond.”

Click Read More below to learn more about this and other USDA programs.

EPA Releases Interim Review Decision on Oxadiazon

On April 28th, 2022 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Interim Review Decision on several pesticides as part of its periodic review of pesticide registrations. One active ingredient that is of key interest to sod producers is oxadiazon, a pre-emergence herbicide labeled for use on many weed species of annual grasses, primarily crabgrass and goosegrass.

TPI has been working with EPA on this registration review since at least August of 2021 when the Proposed Interim Registration Review Decision was posted to the EPA’s public document in the U.S. Federal Register. As a result, TPI and nine individual sod producers from the states of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas submitted comments for EPA’s consideration on oxadiazon’s importance in sod farms and the potential impacts of this registration review decision on those who use it.

Most of the proposed changes to the oxadiazon label revolve around rate reductions, limitations on liquid applications, post-application irrigation, and others. A summary of the EPA’s recommendations from the Interim Registration Review are as follows:

For Sod Farms

  • Oxadiazon will be classified as a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP)
  • A yearly maximum application rate of 6.0 lbs ai/acre/year for all use sites, reduced from a previous maximum of 8.0 lbs ai/acre.
  • A single maximum application rate of 3.0 lbs ai/acre, reduced from a previous maximum of 4.0 lbs ai/acre.
  • Up to two liquid applications per year of oxadiazon
  • A 60-day re-treatment interval is required between applications
  • A 10-foot vegetative buffer is required between treated areas and surface water
  • Thorough post-application irrigation is required as soon as possible on the same day of application

For other Turf Sites (golf courses, parks, athletic fields)

  • Oxadiazon will be classified as a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP)
  • A yearly maximum application rate of 6.0 lbs ai/acre/year for all use sites
  • A single maximum application rate of 3.0 lbs ai/acre, reduced from a previous maximum of 4.0 lbs ai/acre.
  • Limit of one liquid application per year at a max rate of 3 lbs ai/acre
  • Golf courses only – Restrict treatment of up to 30% of golf course managed turf with a required 10-ft vegetative surface water buffer
  • Golf courses only – Allow up to two granular applications at 4lbs ai/A in areas of heavy weed pressure only
  • Prohibit Mechanically Pressurized Handgun (MPHG) on all sites except golf course turf
  • Restrict liquid backpack applications in turf to spot treatments only (1,000 sq ft or less)

One particular comment worth noting is that continued registration on non-agricultural, non-golf turf sites (athletic fields, parks, institutional turf, etc.) will currently be allowed until a pending review of new required studies are complete regarding the transfer of residue under these new labeling requirements.

TPI will continue to work with EPA to provide public comment on these recommended changes in the Interim Review Decision for oxadiazon. A Federal Register Notice has announced the availability of the oxadiazon Interim Decision, and a final registration review decision for oxadiazon will only be made after EPA completes additional requirements.

As always, we seek and welcome input from sod producers on these and other regulatory affairs. Last but certainly not least, thanks to those sod producersand representatives of other industries who logged onto provide public comment on this important product. Thanks also to EPA staff for working with our industry on this and addressing many of our needs in this decision.


Zoysiagrass Production – Sod Farm Survey

Are you a producer of Zoysiagrass?  If so, we need your help! The goal of this survey is to understand production issues that sod farmers may experience with Zoysiagrass. Researchers from Texas A&M AgriLife, Kansas State University, and Purdue University want to understand sod producer concerns with Zoysiagrass management and gain an idea of the economic impact of those issues that may include abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living) stresses. Your response to this survey will aid researchers in addressing and finding solutions to any issues with Zoysiagrass from the production to the transplant success to the end-user.

The deadline to submit responses is October 22, 2021

TPI Requests Farmer Comments on Impending Changes to Oxadiazon in Sod Farms

EPA Proposes changes to Oxadiazon label in Sod Farms and other sites

The EPA has posted a Proposed Interim Decision for oxadiazon and TPI is working on behalf of sod farms to provide much needed feedback on the impacts to our industry. With significant changes to the oxadiazon label proposed, EPA needs to hear your expert opinions on the proposed mitigations in order to maintain the utility of this tool for weed control in sod farms. We would greatly appreciate your feedback to our questions below and your willingness to submit comments to EPA by November 3rd. The industry is currently seeking an extension but have yet to confirm whether or not it will be granted.

Summary of EPA Identified Issues with Oxadiazon and Proposed Mitigations 

Proposed pattern and rate reductions for all liquid and granular formulations

  • Use on turfgrass will be limited to golf course fairways and sod farms only
  • Yearly maximum use rate to be reduced from 8 lb ail/A to 6 lb ai/A
  • The single maximum application rate reduced from 4 lb ai/A to 3 lb ai/A
  • Applications are limited to 2 per year – spring and fall
  • Liquid applications will be limited to 1 per year
  • There must be a 120-day retreatment interval between applications
  • Applications to sports fields is prohibited, included at planting/new construction

Key Impacts on Sod Farmers

“Flexibility in use and timing is one of the key items we need to address with EPA”, says Dr. Casey Reynolds of TPI. Sod farms don’t always follow the typical timing of golf courses, athletic fields, and other sites. Many of those sites will apply oxadiazon at the same time each spring to prevent summer annual weeds, but in sod farms it is often applied after harvest and at new plantings throughout the year. Another item that needs to be addressed is new construction and sprigging of athletic fields. If sod farmers who also install natural grass sprigs or sod on newly constructed athletic fields lose oxadiazon in these scenarios, then it will almost certainly have a significant impact on those projects.

“We have not lost sight of the fact that we will retain oxadiazon as a key tool for weed control in sod production and need to share that with the EPA as well”, says Dr. Reynolds. “We have been working with other key industry partners and the EPA on this important topic and will continue to work on this on behalf of all sod farmers.”

Instructions for Providing Comments to EPA 

We would greatly appreciate direct submission of comments by sod farmers to EPA on refining the use patterns and rates for sod farms. The public comment docket is located at Oxadiazon Public Comment Docket or at the “Comment Here” link below. Once you have entered into the portal, click the blue box in the top left corner titled “Comment”

All comments must include Docket# EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0782.

Please reach out to Dr. Casey Reynolds at or 847-737-1846 for more information or for assistance with providing public comment.

Fall Armyworms Marching Across Much of U.S.

Sod farmers, athletic field managers, and landscapers in the southern United States are used to seeing their fair share of Fall armyworms, but this year seems different. According to several entomologists at various universities, the outbreak and damage this year is much more widespread than usual. Fall armyworms have made it much farther north this year into Ohio, Michigan, the northeast U.S., and as their name suggest the damage is done quickly. Be sure to be on the lookout for brown grass with defoliated leaf blades, and if possible treat quickly to avoid the worst damage. Warm-season grasses typically recover due to their stoloniferous and rhizomatous growth habits, but cool-season grasses can often be more susceptible to irreversible injury. Click the link below to learn more about this cumbersome pest, how to identify injury, and how to treat it.

USDA Adds Grass Seed to CFAP2 Relief Program and Sets Oct 12 Deadline

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is updating the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry and producers of specialty crops and other sales-based commodities. CFAP 2, which assists producers who faced market disruptions in 2020 due to COVID-19, is part of USDA’s broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set an Oct. 12 deadline for all eligible producers to apply for or modify applications for CFAP 2.