Notice to Consumers: Beware of Sod Imposters

July 10, 2015


Here at The Turfgrass Group, a large part of what we do is to protect the intellectual property of our exclusive certified varieties: Zeon Zoysia, JaMur Zoysia, L1F Zoysia, TifGrand Bermudagrass, T-10 Bermudagrass and TifBlair Centipedegrass. More importantly, in doing so, we also protect the genetic purity of these varieties, in which we and our licensed growers have substantial investments. In turn, this helps protect buyers who purchase one of our certified varieties.

Disturbingly, however, some sod farms outside of our licensed production network have acquired some of our sod and/or seed to illegally grow, harvest and sell from their own fields, without going through our rigorous licensing process that gives them the right to do so. In fact, in recent years, we’ve filed lawsuits against several different farms for unauthorized propagation of our grasses. These trademark and intellectual property violations harm the integrity and reputations of our certified varieties and licensed growers — since these farms do not undergo our stringent field inspections, their customers can end up with sod that is not genetically pure, is infested with other grasses and/or weeds or simply does not meet expectations.

In other cases, we’ve caught sod growers and sod brokers passing off an inferior, less-popular variety of grass as one of our licensed varieties.

Informed buyers, however, can spot these counterfeits. All sod of a licensed variety is delivered with a state “Crop Improvement Association” certification certificate. This certificate is not the same as the standard, tan-colored state “Department of Agriculture” tag — actually, all sod growers (including those not in our licensed network) have “Department of Agriculture” tags, which only confirm that the sod is free of fire ants. That particular tag does NOT verify that the sod is certified (only that is free of fire ants), although some less-than-scrupulous growers and brokers try to dupe customers into believing that.

Our licensed, certified varieties will always come with a “Crop Improvement Association” certification certificate. If your delivered sod — either shipped from a grower or ordered by a landscaper — does not carry this certificate, then your sod is quite likely NOT the variety that you thought you were paying for.

If you want one of our superior certified varieties, try to purchase directly from one of our licensed growers. On the homepage of this website, you’ll see a Growers tab in the menu across the top — clicking on this tab opens an alphabetical list of all licensed growers for Zeon, JaMur, L1F, TifGrand, T-10 and TifBlair. Any sod farm that is not on this list but is claiming to grow one of our licensed varieties is doing so illegally, and that grower’s sod is NOT certified or guaranteed to be genetically pure (and we would appreciate you bringing that grower to our attention!).

If you’re buying your sod through a landscape contractor, insist that he or she know exactly which farm the sod is coming from (and then check the farm’s name against our licensed grower list), and insist on seeing the “Crop Improvement Association” certification certificate when your sod is delivered. Otherwise, you may end up planting an imposter that will do nothing but disappoint you.

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