DLF Seed Camp - A Willamette Valley Tradition

DLF welcomed turf seed distributors, scientists and end users to its biennial Seed Camp event in the Willamette Valley of Oregon on June 20-21 and then held a special encore event the following evening for employees and their families.

The Willamette Valley is a mecca for grass seed innovation and expertise, and DLF takes pride in bringing customers to the area to learn about the latest advancements in seed breeding, production and processing. DLF has been hosting field day events in the Valley for over forty years, but in recent years we’ve coordinated with other seed suppliers in the area to host a week of events in June every other year. The synchronized approach has made it possible for more people to make the pilgrimage and visit multiple sites during the trip.

The 2023 DLF Seed Camp was the highest-attended on record. It kicked off with a welcome reception at DLF’s new seed processing facility in Albany, Oregon. Attendees were treated to the first official tour of the 141,000 square foot building, led by Brian Jaasko, SVP of Wholesale & Production. Upon completion, the new facility will include two high-speed blending lines that can produce up to 44,000 pounds of seed per hour, a state-of-the-art seed enhancement line, and 65,000 square feet of raw and finished goods storage.

The following morning, the group traveled to DLF’s research station in Philomath, Oregon for a full day of learning and engagement, starting with an educational session that covered a variety of turf industry topics. Dr. Chas Schmid, Oregon State University, shared data from core cultivation and topdressing trials and previewed new research projects underway. Dr. Stacy Bonos, Rutgers University, talked about turfgrass breeding priorities and ongoing trials related to drought, salinity, gray leaf spot, and shade. Dr. Leah Brilman, DLF, spoke about the turfgrass sustainability system and shared data from recent NTEP trials measuring drought and reduced inputs. Steve Reid, Head of DLF Lawn & Consumer Turf R&D, presented an overview of DLF’s global R&D network and shared details about the company’s plant breeding and evaluation activities across North America. Brian Jaasko explained how DLF’s seed enhancement program is establishing a more sustainable model for seed coatings that focuses on the biological benefits, and Ben Addington, Director of Marketing, talked about Myagi, a new tool utilized by DLF to share key knowledge with customers and end users.

The learning continued after lunch when DLF turf experts led a tour of the research station. The tour included stops at turfgrass trial plots, seed yield trials, and ancillary trials evaluating wear, shade and drought tolerance. It also included field presentations from DLF research team members when the tour group stopped at breeding nurseries, seed enhancement trials and plant variety protection plots. After the farm tour, the group visited nearby production fields and a seed cleaning site. Along the way they met local growers and learned about the Willamette Valley grass seed supply chain before returning to the research station for an authentic carne asada barbecue dinner.

The next evening, DLF invited local employees and their families to the research station for an encore event. Innovation and plant breeding are the core of DLF, so the special event was organized to give local staff a chance to interact with the R&D team and learn what it means to breed seeds for a greener future. It also provided a fun opportunity for the Oregon group to come together and reconnect after another busy season.

The success of the Seed Camp event in the Willamette Valley has led DLF to rotate the event across North America. The next Seed Camp is scheduled to take place on August 22-23 at the company’s Canadian research station in Port Hope, Ontario. The event will then move to the DLF research station in Bangor, Wisconsin in 2024 before returning to Oregon in 2025.