Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

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

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 CReynolds@TurfgrassSod.org 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.

TPI Seeking Member Updates to New Edition of Sod As Agriculture Document

Turfgrass sod producers, here is your chance to help protect important local, national, and international agricultural exemptions for sod. TPI is currently updating the current edition of the book “Sod As Agriculture”. This resource includes state and federal regulations which document sod’s status as agriculture. It is often important to sod farms locally when various agencies or jurisdictions question whether or not sod should receive often important agricultural exemptions. If you are aware of any local, state, or national codes and regulations that grant our industry any particular exemptions please pass them along, and we will include them in the newest edition of Sod As Agriculture. This TPI member-only resource will be printed and mailed to members in early 2022.

Please call or email Dr. Casey Reynolds at 847-737-1846 or CReynolds@TurfgrassSod.org with any exemptions you wish to be included in this new member benefit.

H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act

Reps. Cuellar (S-TX), Joyce (R-OH) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers just introduced the “H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act,” which would create a permanent H-2B returning worker cap exemption and include some program efficiency and integrity measures. AmericanHort and the H-2B Workforce Coalition have been working with the bill sponsors to create a common sense permanent solution to the H-2B cap issue.

Click Read More below to learn more.

USDA to Begin Processing Payments for Turfgrass Producers under CFAP2

The USDA announced on March 24th that they will be re-opening and expanding pandemic assistance programs to provide Covid-19 relief to producers. This announcement included 4 parts with the following focus:

  1. Investing $6 billion to expand help and assistance to more producers
  2. Adding $500 million of new funds to existing programs
  3. Carrying out payments under CFAP 1, CFAP 2, and CFAP AA
  4. Re-opening the CFAP 2 sign-up period to improve access and outreach to underserved producers

This announcement also provides further clarity on when farmers who applied for CFAP 2 assistance by the February 26th deadline will begin to receive payments. The USDA will be finalizing routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on current and past applications and begin processing payments for certain applications that were filed as part of CFAP assistance, including those filed by turfgrass sod farmers. They will also re-open CFAP 2 for a new sign-up period for at least 60 days beginning April 5th, 2021.

As always, TPI will work with the Farm Service Agency to provide and updates and clarity to turfgrass sod farmers and we are always here to help if you have questions. You can also contact your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov, or click Read More below for additional information.

Sod Farmers Eligible for CFAP2 Relief Funds beginning January 19th 2021

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), expanding eligibility for some agricultural producers and commodities, including sod, as well as updating payments to accurately compensate some producers who already applied for the program. Producers who are now eligible and those who need to modify existing applications due to these updates can contact USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26. Some of these changes are being made to align with the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 while others are discretionary changes being made in response to ongoing evaluation of CFAP.

TPI has been working with the US Farm Service Agency on CFAP2 relief since the fall of 2020. “We always enjoy working with FSA officials and thank them for their cooperation”, says TPI Executive Director Dr. Casey Reynolds.

Newly eligible producers can submit a new CFAP 2 application or producers who need to modify an existing one can do so between Jan. 19 and Feb. 26, 2021 by contacting their local USDA Service Center. New applicants can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364.

Please contact your local Farm Service Agency office for more information.

 

Farmers Encouraged to Apply for CFAP2 funds by December 11th

The United States Farm Service Agency encourages farmers to apply for CFAP2 funds at their local FSA office prior to the December 11th, 2020 deadline. Producers interested in CFAP2 are encouraged to submit an application to the program before December 11th. TPI has been in close communication with FSA throughout the pandemic sharing the impacts COVID-19 has had on our members. Although there are not specific details, we do anticipate future changes to program eligibility and we will let members know if there are any updates to COVID response programs from USDA.

Click the link below to learn more or begin the application process.