Certified Sod and Why It Matters
When you buy sod for your yard, you assume it will all be the same variety and free of weeds. Unfortunately, many homeowners contend with new sod that is contaminated with weeds or with lesser grasses that affect performance. The Georgia Crop Improvement Association (GCIA) Turfgrass Certificate ensures that you’ll get a high quality grass for a beautiful new lawn.
Why It Matters
Our region has seen an increase in construction and landscaping projects in recent years. According to the GCIA, along with this increase has also come a higher rate of complaints about sod contaminated with other varieties, weeds, pests or disease. When purchasing non-certified sod, consumers have no assurance as to quality and may risk contending with unsightly and even costly issues after installation.
Sod producers who produce high quality product follow strict management standards and source only high quality planting material. As in any industry, however, producers run the gamut in terms of management practices and quality control, and according to the GCIA, only half of Georgia’s sod farms participate in the GCIA Turfgrass Certification program.
Benefits of GCIA Certification
Since there are no laws regarding turfgrass to protect consumers, certification offers the only quality control in the industry. GCIA members who grow certified grasses follow the regulations set out by the organization to safeguard the growth and sale of high quality plant material that is free of weeds and contaminating varieties.
The GCIA also provides a third-party inspection service and certification program for sod providers to ensure consumers receive only the highest quality product. Participating sod farms undergo inspections three times per year.
The GCIA Turfgrass Certificate asserts:
- The turfgrass was inspected for varietal uniformity and absence of other turf species.
- No noxious weeds were observed in mature sod.
- The turfgrass was grown under rigorous specifications in a field inspected by trained professionals.
- It is the highest quality sod available for landscapes, athletic fields and golf courses.
- It is the nationally recognized standard of excellence in the urban agriculture industry.
Sorting Industry Certificates
Two organizations issue certificates for grass, which may cause some confusion. The Georgia Department of Agriculture offers a Live Plant Certificate, which simply looks for “apparent freedom” from insects, diseases and other pests. Only the Georgia Crop Improvement Turfgrass Certificate ensures both quality and grass uniformity.
Ev ery shipment of GCIA certified sod must be accompanied by a GCIA Turfgrass Certificate, proving that the sod was produced on an inspected and certified farm.