Turfgrass producers meet in Florida

East Dundee, IL-Turfgrass Producers International saw a record number of countries represented at their 2008 TPI Midwinter Conference held February 5-8 in Orlando. In all, 20 countries representing six continents comprised the more than 700 representatives who attended the event.

The first of two days of education sessions featured “Show & Tell” presentations which provided those in attendance with an opportunity to see how their fellow turfgrass producers manage and operate their businesses. Additional educational presentations provided insight into new advancements in the industry such as speaker Mike Kelly, Vice President Operations, Rehbein Environmental Solutions whose presentation entitled, “The Inconvenient Truth . . . A Couple of Convenient Solutions” illustrated innovations in subsurface ground irrigation.

The world renowned Dr. James Beard, President and Chief Scientist of the International Sports Turf Institute headquartered in College Station, Texas, and Professor Emeritus of Turfgrass Science, Texas A&M University offered an “Overview of the Sod Industry” offering a capsulated view of how turfgrass research has progressively advanced over the last 40 years. 

Dr. Jeff Beasley, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University concluded the second day’s session with an informative presentation entitled, “Understanding Sod Roots” in which he also presented initial study findings on turfgrass sod versus seed which was funded by The Lawn Institute.

A seminar featured guest speaker Laura Michaud, President of The Michaud Group, Elmhurst, IL whose presentation, “From The Kitchen Table To the Conference Table” addressed issues of importance to family business owners including basic communication skills, understanding family and business relationships and how to plan effectively for the future.

Other highlights of the Conference included a Roundtable Forum where turf producers and scientists from around the world met to discuss topics such as “DNA Fingerprinting,” “Turf Farm Technology,” “Irrigation & Water,” “Licensed Grasses,” “Office Operations,” “Credit & Collections” and a wide variety of other topics. 

Two days of exhibits provided attendees with the opportunity to visit nearly 60 exhibiting firms and see the latest advancements, innovations and support services available to the turfgrass industry.  Attendees also had an opportunity to visit Emerald Island Turf, in Avon Park, Florida, one if not the only, 100% Seashore Paspalum turfgrass farm in the United States.

Other conference related events included The Lawn Institute Memorial Golf Tournament which took place at MetroWest Golf Club in Orlando.  This annual fundraising event helps to support turfgrass research and education.

SeaWorld Orlando served as the backdrop of The Lawn Institute Banquet, Awards and Fundraiser.  In addition to park-related activities and a great banquet, the foundation raised additional funds by means of a silent and live auction.