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Sunnyside Touring the USA Turf Grass Industry

Sunnyside Instant Lawn’s, Cath & Adrian Steele spent 6 days touring some of the best Turf farms in the USA. Cath was awarded this fantastic opportunity for her winning entry in the Lawns Solutions Australia’s ‘No Bosses Allowed’ Study Tour.

From dozens of entries the field was narrowed down to select Cathryn as the winning participant. She departed with her husband, Adrian, on their fully sponsored American Turfgrass Tour in late July.

Cathryn has worked with Sunnyside Instant Lawn for a little over eight years and handles the outdoor turf management of their farms.

The visit was of enormous benefit offering Cathryn, Adrian and Sunnyside Instant Lawn a greater understanding of the latest knowledge in turfgrass breeding, including up to date research on the new Zoysia variety recently released in Australia.

Lawn Solutions Australia’s Business Manager Simon Adermann organised the tour with a number of targeted turfgrass stops along the way. The trip included inspecting production facilities and harvesting equipment at two of the biggest turf growers in the Texas and the USA.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing tour guide, we can’t thank him enough,” said Cathryn.

“Simon knows his stuff and the contacts he has in the States . . . it gave us an unbelievable opportunity to see the latest in the research and farming technologies.”

“The tour he organised couldn’t have been better and the people we met – well they were very knowledgeable and made us feel so welcome,” said Cathryn warmly.

Starting off in Dallas they sampled some of the local ‘grub’ at a Texas Steakhouse before settling in to begin their busy schedule.

Texas A&M University was their first main stop, checking out the extensive breeding program with resident plant pathologist Dr Ambrika Chandra. The program was a real eye opener for the visitors with hundreds of trials in place at the University’s grounds.

A guided tour of the home of the Texas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium was also an incredible experience according to Cathryn, as they got an appreciation for the well-worn saying of “things are always bigger in Texas”.

After leaving AT&T Stadium they drove to McKinney in Texas to spend some time with Luke Jacobs from Greenup Services and explored the best methods in using ColourGuard Lawn Pigment to paint lawns.

Cathryn spent the next day in Pasadena, Texas, where they visited the Control Solution / Quali-Pro production facility - global leaders in manufacturing products for Turf & Ornamentals and Pest Control.

“It was a pretty amazing facility and again we got to learn so much,” said Cathryn.

Over the following few days Cathryn and Adrian with the assistance of Simon, visited some of the best turf farms in the USA.

They visited five of seven farms owned by All Seasons Turfgrass - a large operation with a key focus on the landscaper, contractor, sports turf construction, Lowes and Home Depot markets in the Texas region. Cath noted two Zoysia varieties in particular, already released to the US - Zeon and L1F have had a huge impact on the turf industry and the results at the farm were plainly evident.

“Their main sales come from Zeon Zoysia, L1F Zoysia, Tiftuf and 419 Bermuda – our couch grass . . . it’s a major operation and in spring they transport around 150 - 200 pallets a day into the big box stores in Texas.”

It was a great insight into large turf operations in the US by all accounts and for lunch they were treated to some traditional Texas fare in small rural town of Sealy.

They also visited the well-known Millberger Turfgrass to check out turf varieties grown, look at their operation and sample some of the local customs.

“Most of their grass is grown for their Landscape and Construction Company in San Antonio. We also had a chance to visit the Milberger cattle ranch, and as you do in Texas, even got to shoot some guns!”

Their last official visit saw them head to Poteet in Texas to see David Doguet at Bladerunner Farms.

This private zoysia grass research centre is probably the largest in the world with some 3,000 different types on trial for a number of disciplines. Whether it be sporting fields, golf tees, golf greens, home yards, or roadsides, Cathryn says they have it all covered.

“David’s passion is to breed the best zoysia grasses in the world and LSA is extremely lucky to have this relationship with someone with so much passion for the industry.”

“The hospitality towards Adrian and myself from Arthur Millburger, David Doguet and so many others on the tour was amazing and I can’t thank them enough,” Cathryn said wholeheartedly.

“And of course our tour guide Simon put so much into the trip and we learnt such a great deal, it was such a great experience . . . thanks for a great opportunity.”

“It’s great to be back and in a position where I can put some of that knowledge into the farm at Sunnyside and hopefully share the knowledge with other members of our extended LSA ‘family’.”