Many industries offer consumers a variation on the Better Homes & Gardens Seal of Approval, a J.D. Power rating, or some type of third-party verification that what they’re buying is the real deal. In the turf industry, our method is Certification. Here in Hawaii, grasses are certified by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
Why is this important? The hinge-pin to Certification is determining the genetic purity of production fields of a given turfgrass variety.
Let’s look at El Toro Zoysia, for example, a long-time standard for lawn grass in Hawaii. Just a few years ago, the Patent for El Toro expired. Once a variety’s Patent expires there is no way to enforce Certification requirements, thus any producer anywhere and at any time can expand production from any source, to any field, without the source field or the expansion field having to be inspected for off-type grasses and/or mutants within the population. Without Certification, there ceases to be any oversight as to the quality and purity of the grass that is being produced or purchased.
Several Certified turfgrass varieties are now available, or are in production, in Hawaii, for use on home laws. TifGrand Bermudagrass is available for sale now. This shade tolerant Bermuda well suited for lawns and sports fields. Zeon Zoysia is a fine textured, dense turf that will be available for sod sales in the summer of 2014. JaMur zoysia is a medium textured zoysiagreass similar in look to El Toro but requires fewer maintenance inputs.
Bill Carraway is Vice President of Marketing at The Turfgrass Group.