Dominic Petrella explains how shade cloths are used to provide shade for turfgrass studies at The Ohio State University campus in Wooster. (Chris Lusvardi photos)
Dominic Petrella explains how shade cloths are used to provide shade for turfgrass studies at The Ohio State University campus in Wooster. (Chris Lusvardi photos)

For more information, see the Fourth Quarter 2023 issue of Seed Today.

Cleveland, OH (November 3, 2023) - The Atlantic Seed Association Convention was held Oct. 20-24 in Cleveland, OH.

The convention featured tours Oct. 21 of the Ag Tech Institute at The Ohio State University Wooster campus along with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

Receptions were held each evening during the convention.

The Knowledge Series included presentations Oct. 23 about turfgrass management and research, regenerative farming, transportation, pollinators, and mycorrhizae.

Turfgrass Research

Some of the research at OSU’s Ag Tech Institute revolves around the response of turfgrass to environmental cues and stresses, with particular attention paid to responses to light.

Dominic Petrella, PhD, assistant professor and coordinator of the turfgrass management program, demonstrated how studies are conducted for shade tolerance of various cultivars, including hard fescue (Festuca brevipila).

Various types of light impact turfgrass in different ways, he says, impacting how well it grows.

“Not all shade is the same,” Petrella says, explaining that foliar light from leaf cover leads to a different reaction than light from structures. He notes that’s particularly important to consider as areas such as Cleveland become more urbanized with less canopy cover.

He says his research is focused on turfgrass perception and acclimation to altered spectral radiation due to foliar shade and the information is used to select and breed for shade tolerant turfgrasses.

Petrella’s research examines the response of shaded turfgrasses to other co-occurring stresses such as the effects of ultraviolet light and high-intensity light on turfgrasses under shade.

Other studies Petrella is working on include investigating the role of high-intensity light stress on cold tolerance and cold acclimation in a diverse range of turfgrass species and cultivars.

Golf Course Management

Approaches to golf course management are at best inconsistent, says Ed Nangle, PhD, associate professor, coordinator – turfgrass equipment manager certificate.

Interest in the sport has continued to increase as revenue has improved in recent years for golf courses, he says. Nangle adds the majority of golf courses have seen double digit improvements since 2019.

“Managing appropriately is necessary for optimal quality surfaces and long-term playability,” Nangle says. “With different nitrogen levels applied, courses are running into problems.”

Research, Nangle says, is focused on assessing turf performance at different nutrient application rates.

Nangle says experience and learning the art of management are required to keep courses in optimal shape. He points out knowing the best mowing height for different cultivars can make a difference in how well various cultivars grow.

Blossom Music Center

Zane Raudenbush, turfgrass and herbicide specialist for Davey Tree Co., Kent, OH, explained how the grass is managed at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH, located in a forested area about 45 minutes from Cleveland.

The outdoor venue hosts concerts throughout the summer with lawn seating on a sloping surface. Given the amount of traffic on the grass, keeping it presentable can be a challenge due to factors such as moisture levels and soil type.

“With moisture, the structure can degrade,” Raudenbush says. “When it’s dry, it can be great. All it takes is a couple of heavy rains during a busy stretch of concerts and the turf can be destroyed.”

With the high traffic level during most of the growing season, Raudenbush says they have a limited window to plant new grass in the fall before the first frost slows everything down. They also use various techniques and cultivars to try to manage the grass throughout the year.

Regenerative Farming

Jay Brandt described how regenerative farming practices are used on the Brandt Family Farm located in Fairfield County, OH, outside Columbus.

He says the farm’s crops include corn, soybeans, and wheat, and include other cereal grains sold through the on-farm cover crop seed business, Walnut Creek Seeds, LLC.

Brandt explains regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to food and farm management. It focuses on building soil health, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, capturing carbon through photosynthesis, and building resilience to climate change.

Brandt says soil conservation practices used on the farm include no-till, reduced application of synthetic inputs, crop rotation, growing cover crops, and animal integration.

“We continue to challenge ourselves to improve land stewardship practices,” Brandt says.

He notes the business will partner with other farms to build soil health, farm resiliency, and food security in the surrounding area and throughout the region.


  • Jim Anderton from MODE Transportation says the economy is driving a lot what is happening in the transportation sector with demand having decreased.

“We’re not seeing it come back,” Anderton says.

He isn’t expecting much to change in the sector unless something happens with the economy.

  • Associate Professor Eric Stockinger from The Ohio State University’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science says research work is underway to develop winter malting barley adapted to Ohio and the neighboring Great Lake and Midwest state regions.

He described how the project grew from his interest in the genetics of winter-hardiness in the cereal grain crops wheat, barley, and rye. The breeding project is now a major focus of his work, leading to the development of a full-fledged winter malting barley breeding program.

  • Dr. Uttara Samarakoon, assistant professor, horticultural technologies and program coordinator, greenhouse and nursery management, says students have opportunities to learn about various aspects of hydroponics.

She says an increasing number of vegetables found at grocery stores are being grown in greenhouse environments as more can be produced with increased growing cycles per year.

Students, Samarakoon says, can learn about everything involved ranging from crop production to business management with preparations for a poinsettia sale underway.

  • Other speakers included Dr. Reed Johnson, OSU associate professor and Entomology Graduate Studies Chair, discussing his research about pollinator habitats and wildflowers along with Dr. Florence Sessoms, an assistant professor in Roots, Rhizospheres, and Resilience at OSU, talking about the role of mycorrhizae, or the mutually beneficial association formed between fungi and the roots of plants, in crop resiliency.
  • The ASA 2023 Scholarship winners are Zachary Beier, majoring in turfgrass management technology at The Ohio State University and Elizabeth Nemtuda, majoring in turfgrass management technology at The Ohio State University.

Written by Seed Today Editor Chris Lusvardi

Uttara Samarakoon shows how roots are one aspect that is studied in efforts to improve plant growth.