Author Archives: Casey Reynolds, PhD

About Casey Reynolds, PhD

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

Glyphosate Interim Registration Review Period Extended

On May 6, 2019, the EPA issued a notice in the Federal Register concerning the EPA’s Proposed Interim Registration Review Decision for glyphosate. This document extends the comment period for 60 days, from July 5, 2019 to September 3, 2019 and is being taken after receiving public comments requesting additional time to review the Glyphosate Proposed Interim Registration Review Decision and supporting materials.

The EPA goes through periodic reviews of all pesticide registrations as part of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to make sure that each pesticide continues to meet standards for safety and performance without unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment. As part of the registration review process, the Agency has completed a proposed interim registration review decision for the pesticide glyphosate.

Glyphosate is a systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide that has been registered for more than 40 years. It has undergone more thorough toxicological testing than almost any other active substance used in pesticides. In 2017, EPA published comprehensive ecological and human health risk assessments for glyphosate. No human health risks were identified. The agency determined that glyphosate is not carcinogenic to humans, and as part of other risk assessments, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) evaluated more than 3,000 studies. They found no indications of nerve damage or of carcinogenic or mutagenic properties. Nor is glyphosate associated with reproductive toxicity.

Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, and is sold under more than 40 trade names. If you would like to provide public comment, please click Read More below and follow the instructions through regulations.gov. You can also contact them with questions at glyphosateRegReview@epa.gov or 703-347-0292.

TPI Seeks Input on MSMA Re-Registration

Drexel Chemical and Luxembourg-Pamol, the two registrants of MSMA, comprise the membership of the Organic Arsenical Products Task Force (OAPTF).  This Task Force is planning to submit an application to the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs in early 2019 under the Pesticide Review Improvement Act (PRIA) to make the conditional turf uses of MSMA permanent and to restore some of the turf uses canceled in 2009.  Currently, the MSMA label permits two broadcast applications per season for sod production and prohibits MSMA applications in Florida.  The Task Force would like to better understand the needs of sod producers prior to submitting the PRIA application to make sure their voices are heard throughout this process in their pursuit to make permanent the conditional uses of MSMA in sod production.

Questions to Turfgrass Producers

  1. Are the currently labeled two broadcast applications per season adequate?  
  2. Do Florida sod producers want or need MSMA re-registered in Florida?

Are there other changes or additions to the use of MSMA needed in sod production that are currently lacking? TPI will be working with the OAPTF to construct comments for submission and are seeking turfgrass producers who are willing to participate in this process. Please contact Dr. Casey Reynolds, Executive Director of TPI at creynolds@Turfgrasssod.org or (847) 737-1846 to provide any comments and/or to submit letters of support. 

Annual Bluegrass Research Sites Needed

The Penn State Turfgrass Program is looking for assistance with a research project focusing on annual bluegrass herbicide resistance throughout Pennsylvania.

John Kaminski (Professor of Turfgrass Science) and Kaiyuan Tang (Ph.D. student) are looking for turfgrass sites in Pennsylvania to collect annual bluegrass plants, and they are currently interested in collecting samples from sod farms, athletic fields, home lawns managed by professional lawn care services, and golf course fairways where herbicide resistance is suspected or in sites routinely treated with herbicides. Collected plants will be screened for resistance to several herbicides and plant growth regulators typically applied to manage annual bluegrass.

The USDA-SCRI Annual Bluegrass Collective is part of a larger initiative involving faculty, staff and graduate students from fourteen Universities across the United States. If you would like to participate in this research project, please complete the brief survey (www.bit.ly/ResistPoa) and/or contact John Kaminski at kaminski@psu.edu.

A Day on the Hill with the National Turfgrass Federation

TPI joins National Turfgrass Federation Representatives on Capitol Hill May 14-16, 2016

Turfgrass Producers International and others in the National Turfgrass Federation were on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from May 14-16thto discuss legislative and regulatory issues impacting turfgrass producers in the United States and the natural grass industry as a whole. Representatives from the turfgrass industry included Dr. Brian Schwartz from the University of Georgia, Dr. Mike Kenna from the United States Golf Association, Kevin Morris from the National Turfgrass Federation, Ben Copeland Jr. from SuperSod, Bob Helland from the Golf Course Superintendents Association, Jonathan Moore, TPI’s policy consultant in Washington, D.C., and myself. We visited Senate and Congressional offices representing citizens from Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Wisconsin as well as multiple federal agencies. Primary areas of discussion included transportation, federal research funds, and public-private partnerships to further the natural grass industry.

U.S. Senate and Congressional Meetings

Part of our time in Washington, D.C. was spent visiting with Senate and Congressional representatives to gather support for federal research funds devoted to the natural grass industry. If appropriated, these funds would support research all over the United States from Arizona, Utah and Georgia in the southwest and southeast, to Maryland and Wisconsin in the transition zone and north.  In addition to meeting with Senate and Congressional offices to discuss federal research, we also spent time with administrators from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FIFA). Each of these federal agencies has a vested interest in agricultural research, and we continue to work with them to explore opportunities to promote the natural grass industry.

Dr. Brian Schwartz with Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Chief Sponsor of H.R. 1673

Agricultural Trucking Relief Act, 2019

TPI was also in Washington, D.C. to continue gathering support for H.R. 1673, also called “The Agricultural Trucking Relief Act of 2019”. This bill was introduced to amend the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 with respect to the definition of agricultural commodities. Recent trucking regulations impacting the need for Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Hours of Service (HOS) have brought into question the definition of an agricultural commodity. The current definition as stated in the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 395.2 exclude natural grass sod from ag commodity exemptions. This is also true for horticultural crops (Shrubs, Christmas Trees, Cut Flowers, etc.) not typically considered as traditional agriculture. Turfgrass Producers International has been working the U.S. Department of Transportation on this issue since Phase II of the new ELD rules took effect in December of 2017.

MSMA Registration in Sod Production

Lastly, we also met with representatives from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss permanent re-registration of the herbicide MSMA, which is a common trade name for the active ingredient “Monosodium acid methanearsonate”. MSMA is a broad-spectrum organic arsenical herbicide that has been registered for use in the United States since 1964.It is a Group 17 post-emergent herbicide that is labeled for control of many annual and perennial weed species such as crabgrass, dallisgrass, foxtails, johnsongrass, goosegrass, nutsedge, and others. The use of MSMA and other organic arsenicals has been under pending threat of termination by the EPA for 10 years now dating back to 2009. However, even though all uses of MSMA (except cotton) were to be prohibited after December 31, 2013 the EPA agreed to conduct a scientific review related to the mode of action of inorganic arsenic prior to the final cancellation of MSMA. For more information on this topic and a full recap of TPI’s efforts in Washington, D.C., check out the July/August Issue of Turf News

2017 USDA Agriculture Census for Sod Production

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released the 2017 USDA Ag Census. This census occurs every 5 years and is the most recent report available which is pre-dated by the 2012 and 2007 surveys. The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity.

The 2017 USDA Ag Census places US sod production in 2017 as 1,465 farms producing 339,551 acres of sod valued at $1.148 billion dollars. Census data are also available by U.S. state and can be easily searched using the USDA’s online search tools. For more information and to access the entire census please click on the link below:

EPA Re-affirms Glyphosate Poses No Risk to Public Health

Article originally published on April 30th, 2019 by press@epa.gov

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has re-affirmed that there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with the label and that it is not a carcinogen. These findings are consistent with the conclusions of scientific reviews conducted by many other federal agencies and countries.

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler and United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue have weighed by stating publicly that “EPA has found no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use the glyphosate,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “USDA applauds EPA’s proposed registration decision as it is science-based and consistent with the findings of other regulatory authorities that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in U.S. agriculture and has been studied for decades.  For more information on this EPA announcement, please visit the link below:

2019 NC Sod Production Survey

Original article written by Dr. Grady Miller, NC State University Professor

Researchers at North Carolina State University recently conducted an annual survey to examine inventory and pricing of North Carolina sod. This survey was completed in March, 2019 and a brief overview of the results can be found below along with the original article. Several U.S. states conduct annual sod surveys to assess pricing, demand, and availability and this is North Carolina’s fifth year completing this survey.

Overview

  • Supply of bermudagrass sod is similar to 2018, with most suppliers saying they have adequate supplies for their expected demand in 2019. There still may be some shortages.
  • Supply of zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass are expected to be better in 2019 compared to 2018.
  • Shortages for tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass sod were predicted for 2019.
  • This was the second consecutive year that producers predicted they could have shortages of centipedegrass sod.
  • There are expected price increases for all the turfgrass species in 2019. Of the actual prices reported for early 2019, St. Augustinegrass, zoysiagrass, and centipedegrass had the greatest increases.
  • There was a 10% increase in growers reporting that they grew certified sod.
  • Production acreage has slightly increased over 2018.
  • The primary markets for North Carolina sod producers are landscape contractors.
  • There was an uptick in sales to the sports/athletic field sector of consumers in compared to previous years.

Click the link below for the original article and full survey from NC State Extension:

2019 Georgia Sod Survey

Original article written by Dr. Clint Waltz, University of Georgia

The Georgia Urban Ag. Council conducted their twenty-fifth consecutive survey of sod producers.  The purpose of the survey was to determine the status of inventory levels and projected price changes for spring 2019.  Seventeen producers participated in the survey, representing farm sizes which were less than 300 acres (9 participants), 300 to 600 acres (3 participants), 601 to 900 acres (2 participants), and more than 900 acres (3 participants).

The survey obtained estimates of the inventory for bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and tall fescue based on estimated sales for the first five months of 2019 as excellent (more than 10% of demand), adequate (equal to demand), and poor (more than 10% shortage).  Pricing information included farm price and price for truckload orders to the Atlanta area or within 100 miles of the farm, all costs were reported as price per square foot of sod.

For the full report and original article from Dr. Clint Waltz, please refer to the link below:

TPI Gets Involved at Local Level

Local CBS news coverage of TPI's involvement in natural grass field removal

In early 2019, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced plans to remove the natural grass playing surface in Kenan Memorial Stadium and replace it with synthetic turf. As one could imagine, this decision did not sit well with sod producers in North Carolina and one of them decided to reach out to TPI to take action. Keaton Vandemark, retired TPI member of Vandemark Sod Farms in eastern NC reached out to me to discuss contacting UNC officials regarding this decision. I wrote the letter below (Suz, see other attachment) and sent it to the Chairman of the UNC Board of Governors as well as the Director of UNC Campus Health, the UNC Director of Athletics, the NC Department of Agriculture Commissioner, a former NC Speaker of the House, and the UNC Board of Trustees. I also worked with Mr. Vandemark to contact local news agencies to get this story in front of the public, and it was highlighted on the local CBS evening news. This story also made the rounds on social media where it was shared by the current president of the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and others.

UNC’s athletic director responded to our letter directly, and said that they were moving forward with the synthetic field installation despite our concerns. While we didn’t win this battle, we at least got UNC’s attention and made them aware of the increased risk to their athletes on artificial turf. If TPI can ever assist any of our members with local issues in your area, please let us know. We are happy to promote natural grass and fight to keep our kids and athletes safe everywhere we can. New TPI publications on recent NFL and NCAA player injury research can be found in the Resources tab of TPI’s new website www.TurfgrassSod.org.

The official version of TPI’s letter is attached here and can also be seen in the 2019 July/August issue of Turf News.

Click on the link below to see the full story on CBS 17.com/sports.