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Supergrass

Dr. Jan Weijer’s hybrid grasses were developed from 23 species of spiked grasses and bluegrasses found in the semiarid eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies, where the soils are poor and growing seasons short.

The Weijer grass proved to be self-propagating, drought-resistant and self-weeding—it released a chemical into the soil that inhibited weed growth—seemingly a perfect product. However, according to some sources, after the 1986 announcement of the development of the first 10 strains, there was equal interest in burying it completely.

"Although the seed would not be commercially available for five years, an American pharmaceutical company with investments in grass-seed production offered to buy the rights to the seeds in order to keep them off the market," wrote Virginia Scott Jenkins in 1994 in The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession. "The bid was rejected by Weijer, but Newsweek magazine opined that other companies in the lawn industry would also be disturbed by the new grass."

In December 1987, Weijer sold the world rights for $7.7 million—to be split between him, his technician and the University of Alberta—to the Edmonton company, Supergrass Inc., which planned to market the grass in 1991.

The company abandoned its plans due, in part, to criticisms of the seed’s performance, and an inability to find a distributor.

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