When Andy Jackson, grounds manager at Stoke City FC, trialled a number of different seed mixtures eight years ago, he felt that there was one in particular which was far superior and that was Limagrain UK’s MM60.
From apprentice to grounds manager, Andy Jackson has been at Stoke City FC throughout his entire career. Arguably there is not one person who knows the stadium and training ground better and there is certainly no-one better placed to know what the pitches need in order to thrive.
“We like to think of the pitches like athletes so they need the correct nutrients to perform,” he said. “I like to think that it is a case of our pitches going to see the doctor or the nutritionist every day.”
Andy oversees the maintenance of the pitch at the bet365 Stadium and all of the facilities at Clayton Wood, Stoke City FC’s Training Ground and Academy, which includes a further eleven natural pitches. The facility hosts club players from the first team all the way down to Under 9’s and sees approximately 120 players through the door every day.
It is safe to say that the pitches experience a lot of usage and eight years ago Andy decided to trial a number of new grass seed mixtures.
“We trialled MM60 eight years ago at the training ground and were very happy with what we saw,” he said. “I felt that the MM seed was far superior to the other brands we were using and since then we have been 100% MM60 over both sites and that’s from renovation to overseeding throughout the winter.”
Limagrain’s MM60 grass seed is renowned for producing an excellent playing surface. It is a 100% Ryegrass formula which is perfect for renovation and divot repair, has a high disease resistance, fantastic aesthetic qualities and offers extremely fast germination – which is boosted by the inclusion of Headstart GOLD®.
“I believe that the MM range really excels because of the products they use on the seed such as Headstart GOLD®. It is particularly suited to where the industry is heading in the future – so it is not a case of putting lots of nitrogen onto the seed and flushing it up, it is more a case of the seed being nurtured gradually and healthy and I think that is where we do really well in the summer months. I’ve noticed that Headstart also helps with disease resistance and provides good plant protection too.”
MM60 now includes Limagrain’s new Ryegrass cultivar Annecy which has outstanding disease resistance particularly against Leaf Spot, something which particularly struck a chord with Andy.
“We used to have quite a lot of Leaf Spot which is quite common in Ryegrass situations in stadiums and training grounds,” he continued. “I believe that the MM60 seed has helped us to cut that out by at least 60%.”
At the Academy, Andy and his team will start renovations around mid-April and at the stadium they will typically start in June. After sowing MM60 during renovations Andy claims that the first cut will be carried out normally eleven days after the seed has been applied. When it comes to overseeding in winter, Andy will apply three to four bags of MM60 after every home game.
“We still get great germination from the seed throughout the winter,” said Andy. “I’m also very impressed with the fineness of the leaf. The leaf is finer than any of the other products we have used in the past which means we can get more plants per square metre. So, what we find is that after a match we are getting less damage to the pitch, and if there is a scar or a divot then it actually recovers faster. It can fill the space back in very quickly and for me that is a huge benefit.
“For me, the back-up offered by the companies I work with is essential and I believe the customer service from Limagrain fantastic. We even involve them in some of the conversations we have about other products, not just seed, because we are always looking at new way’s we can improve the pitch and I trust and value their input.”