Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

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

Synthetic Turf Failure at Big10 Championship Delays Game

Original article written by Morgan Moriarty,

The 2017 Big10 Championship had it’s share of drama this year, and it wasn’t just related to the score. Viewers and attendees witnessed the bizarre event at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana which stopped play for at least 10 minutes to make repairs.

Video of the incident and the full story can be seen here: 

TPI Board Member John Coombs Receives Distinguished Award

Each year the Salem County Board of Agriculture selects an individual who they feel has been of great service to the agriculture industry in their local community. It was in high school that John realized the farm life was for him. After graduating from Penn State with an Agricultural degree, he returned home to join the ranks of the family farm as an 8th generation farmer. He enjoyed many daily farm tasks but seemed to especially like disking the ground ahead of planting as well as planting potatoes. He likes it so much that he often joked he would plant the moon if they would let him, and his family states that he would actually do it if he could figure out a way to get his John Deere Tractor up there.

John has always been involved in the community and has held various positions with the Salem County Board of Agriculture, the NJ State Agricultural Museum, the Upper Pittsgrove Township Land Use Board, the Salem County Utilities Authority, the NJ Cultivated Sod Association, and more. He has always instilled the love of the land and a passion for growing plants in all three of his children, inspiring future generations to carry on the family tradition of growing things from the land. Leading by example, he has taught future generations to not be afraid of getting involved and taking on leadership positions in things they find important to them.

It’s his love of agriculture and his commitment to being involved in his community and agriculture industry that has earned John Coombs, Sr. the Distinguished Service Award.

A Night to Remember with Jim Novak

 When my wife Kathy and I were informed months ago that the TPI Board wanted to throw a goodbye/thank you dinner to acknowledge my retirement I was somewhat apprehensive. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the food be good? Would anyone care to sit with us? Would I have to chip-in for our portion of the meal? 

Upon arriving at Morton’s Steakhouse promptly at 6:30 as requested, Kathy and I advised the hostess that we were there for the TPI function. She had no idea what we were talking about. We said, “Perhaps it’s under the name Reynolds? (Sandy or Casey),” she said, “No, we don’t have anything under TPI or Reynolds.” We were somewhat concerned that we might be at the wrong Morton’s Steakhouse, there are six in the Chicagoland area and I am noted for often getting lost. Kathy then asked, “Could it be under Turfgrass Producers International?” The hostess responded, “Oh, you mean the turfgrass people!”  

We were then led through several dining areas, down a dimly lit hallway, made a few turns and finally arrived at a room filled with many familiar faces. Greetings were exchanged. And after some friendly conversation everyone scampered off to a table for dinner. The meal was delightful and so too was the conversation.  After everyone finished eating Sandy Reynolds began what could be described as a poor man’s roast and I was to be the roastee!

Sandy was joined by Geri Hannah in recalling some humorous stories regarding a few of my misadventures over the years at TPI and everyone had a laugh including yours truly. 

Sandy had a half dozen blown-up head shots of me, all of which depicted a seemingly troubled soul, and had placed them on ping-pong paddles. She waved each photo and proceeded to describe my expression in each photo; it went something like this: “This is the not so happy Jim. This is the grumpy Jim. This is Jim when he’s in a good mood, I know it’s hard to tell the good mood Jim from the grumpy Jim, but that’s Jim.”  

After Sandy and Geri did their tag-team comedy routine, Linda Bradley advised everyone that I visit the old TPI office once a week to check the building and run the water. She then presented me with a few gifts from the board. They included a toilet plunger, a roll of bathroom tissue, a toilet scrub brush, a can of air freshener and a pair of yellow latex gloves. It can’t get much better than that after twelve years of dedicated service.   

Following Linda’s presentation, Jimmy Fox got a bit more serious as he kindly acknowledged my contribution to TPI, the board and its members during my career. His thoughtful remarks, the recognition extended to me, and the response from those in attendance was deeply moving.  Jimmy also presented me with a personal gift from the Board to show their appreciation for my years of service. 

At the close of the evening I shared a few light-hearted and personal stories and expressed my sincere gratitude to everyone for their thoughtfulness and told them how much I appreciated the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone in such a warm setting.

After Kathy and I left the restaurant we sat in the car for a while, we looked at one another and agreed, we’re going to miss working with such wonderful people. It truly was a night to remember.

TPI Sec-Treasurer Eric Heuver and TPI President Linda Bradley taking turns toasting Jim Novak

Turfgrass Producers help out after Southern US Hurricanes

 One of the farms that experienced temporary flooding was Doguet’s Diamond D Ranch Turf Farm in Nome, TX. Owner Mike Doguet is a brother to member David Doguet of Bladerunner Farms and Doguet Ventures. While much of the farm was under water, his warehouse facility was high and dry. Mike reports that his local veterinarian called and asked if the facility could be used as a staging area for hay and other livestock and pet foods. Even though Mike and family had to be rescued from their home by boat, the house itself did not flood, and he lost over 300 round bales of hay himself, he said, “Sure, anything we can do to help.” With the assistance of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service they set up a distribution system to accept donated hay and feedstuffs and disseminate it throughout the affected area. Mike reports that donations poured in from all over the country. In one afternoon alone, over 500 round bales were delivered from the supply point. Mike’s son-in-law, Matt Willey, reported, “There were trucks lined up all along the road. We had an assembly line inside the warehouse getting dog and cat food unloaded.” The supply yard was still in operation the second week of October, but was winding down. 

Keith Wittig, Central Turf Farms owner, is a TPI Board of Trustees member, reported an average of four to five feet of water over his entire farm. Some areas had as much as six to eight feet and some with as little as two feet. The entire area not only had to deal with the rain falling (about 25 inches), but the amount of rainfall caused the Colorado River to flood, adding to the deluge. The major flooding occurred three to four days after the 

hurricane. The rain water was being absorbed into the soil but with what wasn’t running off, the river flooding was too much. 

Almost all of Wittig’s employees were affected. There was a great community effort to help. All employees were back to work by the first part of October. Wittig also wanted to make it known that he was very appreciative of the TPI members’ outreach. On Saturday, September 2, TPI Associate Executive Director Karen Cooper, who lives in New Braunfels, TX, delivered 221 pounds of chicken, 20 bags of potato chips, 350 paper plates, napkins, and plastic-ware to provide meals to over 200 first responders in the Wharton area. Wittig says, “We have been really blessed. People brought food. Calls from all over the country offered trucks, generators, anything that we might need or use.” 

In addition to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma hit Florida on September 10th, and after roaring through West and Central Florida it started breaking down as it traveled North and affected parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina before officially dissipating September 16. Central Florida turf farms received the brunt of the damage. Gary Bradshaw, our Field Day host last February at SMR Farms, reports that they fared far better than some just a county away. Some of the homes on the property also suffered roof damage. Bradshaw says, “We were really blessed, many people had it far worse.”

Betsy McGill is executive director of the Turfgrass Producers of Florida. She also reports that the damage across the state was sporadic. She said that there are two farms with potential total damage. She adds, “There is going to be a lot of wait and see. Lost production and harvest time was very significant.” Damages are still being tallied, but totals to sod producers will be in the millions of dollars. There will be a definite impact on supply and on timing.

TPI attends National Turfgrass Federation Meeting in Washington, D.C

 Approximately 40 attendees participated in a professionally facilitated workshop on September 19th and 20th, 2017 hosted by the National Turfgrass Federation and the U.S. National Arboretum to discuss turfgrass research needs, priorities and funding strategies. Attendees included representatives from golf, parks, seed and sod, lawn and landscape, irrigation, equipment, plant protection/enhancement industries as well as university researchers, non-profits and the federal government.  

The historical context and development of the 2004 National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI) was presented, as well as presentations outlining USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), non-profits (United States Golf Association and other turf organizations) and commercial turf industry research accomplishments. Participants were then divided into six groups, with each group being asked to identify and develop their top 5-6 research needs. From these groups, a total of 28 research needs were compiled and presented to all participants and voted on before being consolidated into 18 broad research topics.

Participants came from across  the United States and represented the following entities: 

  • Government: 38%
  • Non-profits: 29% 
  • Industry: 25%
  • Universities: 8%

There were many research topics identified which included, but were not limited to, social research to identify green industry perceptions and benefits, quantifying turfgrass, best management practices, alternative turfgrass species, genome sequencing, new cultivars, turf phytobiomes, carbon sequestration, turfgrass water use, urban microclimates, minimum levels for sustainable nutrition, and more…

Participants were then updated on potential funding mechanisms, as well as encouraged to discuss implementation strategies. The group decided to utilize the 2004 National Turfgrass Research Initiative as a framework, and update NTRI based on research priorities identified by participants. Several participants volunteered to help with an NTRI update, while others offered to further efforts in developing, funding, and implementing these research priorities.

Casey Reynolds, PhD was there on behalf of TPI and The Lawn Institute to participate as well as offer their resources and support for the National Turfgrass Federation. Special thanks to the all of those who participated by devoting their time, resources, and expertise to move this initiative forward and support the future of the turfgrass industry.

Tuckahoe Turf Reel Mower Makes Big Impact on Twitter

 As the saying goes, “The only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys.”

TPI members attending the Tuckahoe Turf Farm tour as part of the 2017 TPI Summer Conference in New Jersey got a real treat during the Wednesday session when they witnessed a larger-than-usual mower in action. This unit, with 31 reels and an approximate cutting width of 60 feet, was one of the many highlights of the tour. It also made quite the impression on Twitter. Dr. Casey Reynolds, who manages the The Lawn Institute Twitter account says, “Its always fun to see tweets like this take off. This tweet literally made 10 times the impression on Twitter than any other tweet I’ve made since joining TPI.” I can see why too, because I never get tired of seeing farm and turf equipment in action. Especially when its this size!”

TPI and ITRC hold joint conference in New Brunswick, NJ

The 2017 TPI Summer Convention was held alongside the International Turfgrass Research Conference (ITRC) from July 16th – 21st in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Over 450 turfgrass researchers and professionals from around the world gathered to discuss the latest turfgrass research findings, see the sights of NYC, and more.  

The International Turfgrass Society (ITS) is a not-for-profit scientific organization established in 1969 to encourage research and education in turfgrass science, and to promote personal communication among the international community of turfgrass researchers by organizing international conferences to present turfgrass research and information on all phases of turfgrass production and use. ITRC meetings are held every 4 years and this year’s theme was “Meeting the Challenges of a Changing Environment”.

The week began with a welcome reception on Sunday and was followed by two days of scientific presentations from leaders in turfgrass science from at least 30 states and over 26 countries. Research areas of interest that were presented included: climate, plant health and physiology, management, planting practices, pest control, nutrient fate, plant breeding, stress tolerance, sports field drainage, new technologies, market trends, consumer preferences, and more.

In addition to classroom educational sessions, ITRC members were treated to several technical tours, which ran concurrently with those scheduled as part of the 2017 TPI Summer Conference. These sites included Yankee Stadium, Red Bull Arena, Met Life Practice Field (home of the NY Giants), Monmouth Park Race Track, Central Park in NYC, Bronx Botanical Gardens, Rutgers Horticultural Research Farms, Trump National Golf Club (home of the 2017 US Women’s Open), Tuckahoe Turf Sod Farms, and the USGA Museum and Testing Facility in nearby Far Hills, New Jersey.

Tour Stops

Each of these sites had something special to offer anyone interested in turfgrasses, and they certainly rose to the challenge. The  faculty and staff at Rutgers University highlighted research on Wednesday afternoon followed by a BBQ dinner and live entertainment and then again on Friday where attendees toured additional research sites. Attendees got a chance to see turfgrasses under shade, drought, traffic, minimal nutrients, and other stresses designed to meet the challenges of a changing environment.

TPI and ITRC attendees interested in golf really received a special treat on Thursday’s site visits as the tour stopped at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ and the USGA Museum and Testing Facility. Highlights included a  tour of where golf equipment is  tested for conformity with USGA rules and a stop in the museum where legendary and timeless golf history is archived including the US Open championship trophies, the moon club that used to hit two golf balls on the moon, and temporary rules of golf in wartime London in 1941. 

Rob Wagner, golf course superintendent at Trump National Golf Club, who was kind enough to host us, spent time speaking with TPI members about his relationship with local turfgrass producers and his boss Donald Trump, the President of the United States.

This educational and exciting week was capped off  Thursday night with a harbor cruise of New York City which included dinner, dancing, and some unbelievable views. Sites included the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, Empire State Building, and others. Thanks to everyone who attended and we hope to see you again at  future conferences!

Green Street Challenges comes to Pennsylvania

The Green Street Challenge is a day-long event that creates the opportunity to celebrate the importance of outdoor, unstructured play by laying down sod and creating temporary parks on prominent streets in communities across North America. It is sponsored by Come Alive Outside, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works closely with partners in the landscape profession, as well as college horticulture and landscape architecture departments, in order to get people off the couch and back outside in communities across North America. Its mission is  to inspire collaborative community systems that create the awareness, intention, and opportunity for people to live healthier lives outside. 

TPI Board of Trustees member John Coombs decided to get involved after hearing a “Come Alive Outside” presentation at a recent TPI event. As a result, at 5am on May 27th, 2017 Coombs Sod Farm delivered 6,000 sq ft of Kentucky bluegrass sod to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to be laid on Monroe Street prior to the 8am opening of the Saturday Morning Farmer’s market. Hula hoops, straw bales, balls of various kinds, lawn games, and more were provided for kids and their families to just enjoy the day. 

One attendee and mother stated to a reporter, “It’s good to explore because nowadays  you don’t see kids playing with toys or just outside enjoying. Everybody is in front of a 

screen, and I look back to my childhood and I loved just running outside.” Another person stated, “What a great project, thank you!”

Come Alive Outside has plans for 12 events in 2017 in Canada and is looking to expand further into the United States in 2018. For more information on their organization and future Green Street Challenges, please check out their website at

TPI Staff Attend Local Sod Producer Events

One of the many goals of Casey Reynolds, Ph.D., and Karen Cooper when they joined the TPI staff in May was to begin attending local, regional, and national events in order to meet growers, suppliers, and others in the turfgrass industry. On July 11, they attended a joint function in Chicago hosted by the Wisconsin Sod Producers and the Sod Growers of Mid-America and were also in Texas during May for a joint meeting between Thomas Turfgrass and Sod Solutions.   

In the coming months, they will be traveling to events in Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee as well as the European Turfgrass Producers meeting. TPI will be visiting with members and non-members in all of these areas to discuss issues affecting sod producers and find out what TPI can do to help out. If you have an event in your area that you think would be beneficial, please reach out to a TPI staff member for discussion. We’d love to see you!

2017 European Turfgrass Producers Seminar & Expo

The 2017 European Turfgrass Producers Seminars and Turf Expo will be held from September 28th – 29th, 2017 in the Netherlands. This year’s meeting will consist of an intensive 2-day program of seminars at the Hotel Asteria in Venray on September 28th followed by a Turf Expo at nearby Direct Gazon sod farm in Ysselesteyn. Seminar sessions will include topics on revenue and by-products from turfgrass clippings, hybrid turf in sod farms, and more. Dr. Casey Reynolds will be attending on behalf of Turfgrass Producers International, so please feel free to reach out to him with ideas on topics for discussion or making connections while there!

Registration information can be found by clicking the link below: