What is Maryland Certified Sod?
Maryland Certified sod is grown under specifications set forth by the Maryland Department of Agriculture Turf and Seed Program. It is one of the most difficult turf specifications in the country. Certified sod must be grown from certified seed selected by the University of Maryland to perform well in our specific climate. Once the seed is grown in over a period of 18 months, it must be reinspected to ensure it is free of weeds, disease, and pests.
Why should Certified Sod be used?
There are several reasons that certified sod is required in many projects:
- Grass performance - There are hundreds of different "cultivars" of Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Zoysia, and Bermuda that grow around the country and the world, but most are not suitable for the Mid-Atlantic region. In Maryland and Virginia, we have hot, humid summers and cold wet winters that challenge most turfgrass species. The University of Maryland participates in the National Turfgrass Evaluation program at their facility in college park. Each year they test hundreds of turf varieties to see how well they perform and respond to environmental conditions in Maryland's climate. Only the best performing cultivars are put on the recommended list eligible for certified seed production. Just like you would not plant a palm tree in Vermont, you don't want to plant an unsuitable fescue cultivar in Maryland!
- Sod quality - Certified sod must be strong, weed-free, fully mature, and fresh upon delivery. When you purchase Certified sod, you know what to expect. All certified sod must be inspected by the MDA before harvest. Fields that do not make the cut are not harvested as certified.
- Job specifications - Due to the above reasons, many government and commercial jobs require certified sod to be used. Make sure to read your RFQs and make sure certified sod is used if needed!
What is the process to produce certified sod?
A sod farm must first apply to grow certified sod in the State of Maryland. Once the application is sent to the MDA, an agronomist must visit the farm and inspect the fields prior to planting to ensure they are free from noxious weeds.
The farm must then contract with a seed company to provide a custom mixture of seed from the list of approved varieties set forth by the University of Maryland. Once these varieties are approved by MDA, an inspector is sent to the seed mixing facility to overseed the blending of the seed into the certified seed mixture. A blue certified seed tag is affixed to each bag, and the seed is delivered to our farm.
The fields are ploughed, leveled, and seeded with this certified seed using special equipment. Over the next 18 months, the new grass is cared for, mowed, and fertilized until ready for harvest. During this time, an MDA inspector periodically visits the farm to ensure best turf practices are being used.
Once the field is ready for harvest, the Department of Agriculture must perform one final inspection to declare the sod ready for harvest as certified sod. Once harvested, the sod must be delivered within 24 hours to guarantee a fresh and healthy product.
How do I know if my sod is certified?
Make sure to request the certification documentation when placing your order. We will attach the seed blend as well as the MDA blue tag sticker to your packing slip. The jobsite inspector may request this document from you.
Have more questions?
Give us a call at 410-827-5000 or