ROLESVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Even though the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team is officially out of the FIFA World Cup, a small farm just three hours from Charlotte is winning big.
One could quickly drive past the 40-acre Rolesville farm among the windy backroads of the rural town, but what’s being grown, tested, and tightly monitored there cannot go unnoticed.
“It’s been through the gantlet,” Pure Seed Testing farmer superintendent Jed Hemingway said.
Hemingway is talking about grass.
“It’s a long process. It’s decades of research and development put into it,” he said.
Just four employees manage the Pure Seed Testing farm. The company’s primary goal since 1991 involves growing top-notch turf. They have sod for projects as small as front lawns and as large as global sporting events.
“We are actually a research company that just happens to sell grass seed,” North United States Regional Manager Kelly Lynch said.
It’s a journey that starts nearly 3,000 miles away. Seeds are grown and tested at their Oregon hub, then shipped to Rolesville to face the ultimate test. `
“If you can grow grass here, and it is successful, it can grow all around the world,” Lynch said.
“We try to put as much stress on them as we can, especially during the summertime, and then our job is to identify the ones that do the best,” Director of Research Melodee Fraser said. “We are looking for varieties that have better heat tolerance, better air summer disease resistance, better drought tolerance, all of these things that are difficult for turf grass managers to manage.”
What starts as a simple germ plasm goes through years of fine-tuning, only to end up on a table in their greenhouse to be rated on a scale of one to nine.
“I am not very good at giving nines,” Fraser said while laughing.
But she and her team are good at finding the best variety of seeds to fill all eight World Cup stadiums. They have to be good at it. Qatar is in a flat, low-lying desert area, and the middle eastern country’s average temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit in November.
“It will be the first time that we believe in history the stadiums are playing on the same surface, and it just so happens that Pure Seed Testing brought the quality for the sport to the game,” Lynch said.
“It is very exciting to watch on TV and see products that you know you helped to develop are there and that you know they are well fit for the job,” Fraser said.
From a small North Carolina farm to soccer pitches in Qatar, Pure Seed Testing has proven the grass is sometimes greener on the other side.
“That’s their championship, but it’s also our championship because it has been decades of work and improving the variety so that they go out and perform and that our performance, and that we are providing the best playing surface is really our championship,” Lynch said. “Those players are looking for safety, and I think that we have already heard that some of the player’s feedback is that these are some of the best playing surfaces that we have ever played on. They are loving it.”