INSIDERSTurf & ForageForage and Turf Breeding is Becoming Increasingly Global

Forage and Turf Breeding is Becoming Increasingly Global


As a worldwide company, DLF is present in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. We also operate in Asia and Africa, touching virtually every corner of the globe. This worldwide network informs our breeding and helps us provide the best products we can for our customers.

Of course, that global network is made up of a huge team that includes local breeders like me. I breed for DLF’s North American business unit. Turf and forage customers in this part of the world have unique needs when it comes to seed varieties, be it for animal feed, lawn grass or sports turf.

Of course, DLF’s status as a global player — something that we’re taking time to highlight in light of our recent rebranding — is a key part of our local breeding work. More than ever, it has to be.

Turf and forage breeding is global. For example, many forage perennial ryegrasses grown around the world come mainly from greater Europe or Oceania. When it comes to orchardgrass and tall fescue, they often come from southern Europe and/or North America.

Our trial sites around the world provide us with data on countless populations and/or varieties and where they perform best. When it comes to the wide range of germplasm we use to breed with, each species could be bred for a couple of places or just one, in addition to multiple traits, such as drought tolerance or nitrogen use efficiency.

Our database is organized based on where that species might fit or might have an appropriate use. A product bred in New Zealand might have characteristics that could be used to build a game-changing variety for the Canadian or American Midwest markets. The system we have perfected is ever-changing in light of rapidly advancing technology, such as genomic selection and the effects of climate change.

Customer needs are always shifting, and that means our breeding priorities have to shift as well (I’m thinking of things like drought/heat tolerance). Germplasm created in drier/warmer parts of the globe are perfectly suited to this. In past decades, it may have surprised a lot of people that a turfgrass developed in North America would have uses in Europe or even parts of Canada, but this is a reality DLF breeders are encountering more often as the climate changes and northern environments become warmer and drier.

Our DLF breeders around the world are keenly attuned to what their local markets need, but our global presence and germplasm bank means our company is one that has learned to operate with a truly global business model that benefits our businesses worldwide.

Steven Reid, Head of Lawn & Consumer Turf R&D, DLF
Steven Reid, Head of Lawn & Consumer Turf R&D, DLF
Based in Oregon, Steve leads DLF North America’s turf and forage grass variety development and has helped develop many of the top varieties available today, including Banfield (used in the 2014 FIFA World Cup).