Sod grown under the rules and regulations of the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s
(MDA) Maryland Certified Turfgrass Sod Program is sod grown under the most stringent regulations
and scrutinized harder than sod grown in any other state in the United States. This is because many
grasses will sprout and begin to grow in this area but only a select portion of these grasses will survive
and thrive through the hot humid summers and the dry cold winters that are experienced here.
This is a voluntary program, but for a farmer to participate in this program he must apply to the
MDA’s Turf and Seed Section. An agronomist will visit the farm and inspect each field for any
noxious weeds, or weeds which will be difficult to control, before a field is approved to be prepared to
be planted. Once any problems or concerns are eradicated or controlled, then the farmer can begin his
At about this same time, the farmer notifies the seed companies which participate in the
Maryland Interagency Certified Seed Mixing Program. The farmer chooses his seed from a
“recommended” list of varieties which are published each year by the U of MD in College Park, MD
and VPI in Blacksburg, VA. These varieties are only recommended after being tested at several
locations in both MD & VA and determined to thrive among the best for a minimum of five (5) years.
The seed must also be commercially available, and available as certified seed.
Once the varieties are selected the MDA is notified and they perform a review of all tests of
each component which was previously tested in the Maryland seed laboratory. If all are found to meet
the standards, an inspector goes to the warehouse, physically enters each piece of machinery to ensure
it is clean, checks to verify each bag as it is opened and dumped into the mixer. The inspector times
the mixture and at the appointed time watches as the seed is removed, placed into new clean bags, and
he issues a Maryland Certified Mixture tag which is sewn onto each bag. The inspector samples the
final product and it is ready for shipment to the sod farmer.
Once the seed arrives on the farm and the farmer has prepared the soil into a loose, friable,
amended, level seed bed, the seed is planted utilizing specific grass planters that distribute the seed at
the proper rates and firms the seed into the soil. The seed then remains just under the surface of the
soil until it either rains or irrigation water is applied. Usually between 17 and 35 days after planting,
little green hairs become visible across the field.
Over the next several weeks and months, the grass continues to grow. The grass is mowed,
fertilized, rolled, sprayed to control weeds and insects, and pampered as only a sod farmer can do,
turning the grass into tight, uniform turf which can then be harvested as sod. During this time, the
MDA has visited the farm and verified that proper agronomic practices are being applied and makes
any recommendations as they see necessary to produce the best quality sod available.
Once the sod is mature and ready for harvest, the MDA agronomist does one last inspection
and issues certification labels, which are attached to the back of each invoice, declaring the product to
be Maryland Certified Turfgrass Sod. The best of the best is now ready for pick-up or delivery to you.