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This article was published 4/6/2010 (4413 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WHEN Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney kicks a chunk out the turf at the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup, Terry Scott would have every right to be worried.
After all, his company, Pickseed Canada, has a vested interest in the grass on which the Argentinian and English soccer stars will be playing, as it provided two varieties of perennial ryegrass seed used in seeding 13 giant stadiums across South Africa.
"It has excellent wear tolerance and quick regrowth," said the company's director of western sales. "They can repair it pretty quickly. I'm sure they'll have some reserve seed and some sod that they'll put into those fields if something really serious happens. It's a fine-leaf grass. It's very nice to run on."
One of Pickseed's sister companies, Oregon-based Seed Research, has been working on finding the perfect blend of grass seeds with FIFA for four years. Through Agricol, Seed Research's distributor in South Africa, they've been testing them on numerous soccer pitches to ensure they can handle the traffic presented by some of the world's best -- and most famous -- athletes.
While Pickseed employees are ecstatic that their wares will be on display to the world for six weeks, it's not like it's a new endeavour for them. They've been seeding golf courses, sports fields and lawns since 1947.
"Soccer fields aren't that large," Scott said, with a laugh.
Regardless, even though Pickseed has customers all over the world, the World Cup contract is a big deal for the company.
"From a monetary standpoint, it's nice business. Next to the players, the quality of the soccer pitch is the most important thing at the World Cup. But for us, it's more about waving the Canadian and Manitoba flags. We're pretty proud of doing this type of business. It conveys the message that we have the best-quality seed and the best producers in the world," he said.
The two varieties provided by Pickseed, Zoom perennial ryegrass and SR4600 perennial ryegrass, were produced by growers in Beausejour, Ste. Anne, Starbuck and a fourth in the Red River Valley.
Scott said having helped provide the grass for one of the biggest sporting events the world has ever known would certainly be used in Pickseed's future marketing campaigns.
"It's a feather in our cap to be able to say we're doing that. It would enhance sales, if anything," he said.
During a recent "state of readiness" tour of South Africa's official World Cup venues, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said Cape Town's 68,000-seat stadium was "perfect."
"It's just an amazing stadium and all the teams who play in Cape Town, they will play in the perfect place," he said, adding Cape Town's ryegrass pitch should be treated as the benchmark for all World Cup stadiums.
"It's a nice, deep green colour," Scott said. "It's got disease resistance built into it for bugs and fungal disease. It's ideally suited for turf situations."
Pickseed is a privately held company and therefore doesn't have to release its sales figures, but Scott said its Canadian operations grew by more than 30 per cent last year. Things weren't quite as rosy in the U.S., where the recession caused a record number of mortgage foreclosures, so new lawns weren't being planted in front of empty homes. Golf courses south of the border weren't being used as much, either.
"It goes in cycles. It will turn around over the next couple of years," he said.