The Hawaii Dept of Agriculture, Commodities Branch of the Quality Assurance Division is the official designated agency of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) to certify vegetative propagated turf grasses such as Bermudas, Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine and Seashore Paspalum. The life of the stand for classes of foundation registered or certified turf grasses will continue as long as the varietal and mechanical purity for the class is maintained.
Why certify turf grasses? To assure buyers that they are getting the variety of turf grasses that is of genetic purity. It is usually a requirement by the licensing agency for turf grass varieties to be certified. Varieties that are certified are usually Mainland certified or registered sod sprigs.
The following are procedures for the applicant to get the turf grass to be certified. The applicant will submit to the certifying agency (Hawaii Dept of Agriculture): the name and address of the applicant requesting for the service, the name of breeder of the variety, the variety name, the origin and breeding history of the variety, a detailed description of the morphological, physiological and other characteristics of the plants that distinguished it from other varieties, Note: This will be the description used by field inspectors to determine varietal purity, evidence (data, graphs, charts, pictures, etc.), supporting identity of the variety and any statements of claims made concerning its performance characteristics, (e.g. yield insect or disease tolerance, lodging). a statement delineating the geographical area of adaptation of the variety, procedure for maintaining the stock seed classes and number of generations a variety may be multiplied, and the description of how the variety is to be constituted if a particular cycle of reproduction or multiplication is required.
Field Standards are the handling of the crop after planting and prior to inspection, the field must be rogued and/or spot sprayed during the growing season to remove (1)other varieties (2) other perennial grasses (3) most common weeds, (4) objectionable and noxious weeds in excess of agency standards.
Minimum of three inspections are required throughout the year of the same field. A field or portion of a field may be certified. Plantings of vegetative propagated turf grasses must be isolated from any other variety and other perennial grasses by an artificial barrier and/or strip at least six (6) feet wide to prevent mixing during the growing season and harvesting operation.
For Turf Standards Procedures – an official serially numbered certificate or tag will accompany each shipment of certified, sprigs, sod or plugs. A complete record on the amount of certified turf sales will be maintained and made available to the official of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. The record will include (a) class of certified turf grass sold (Foundation, Registered or Certified), (b) kind and variety, (c) field number, (d) date of harvest, (e) amount of turf shipped (square feet, cubic feet, bushels, etc.).
Fees for this inspection include travel costs based on the current federal mileage rate of 56.5 cents per mile and $38.00 per hour.
Albert Louie is the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Inspection Specialist, Seed Certification Director & Food Safety Auditing Coordinator for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.