Georgia Magazine - July 2013 - (Page 46)

On the right turf Growing grass in Georgia BY MARY KATHRYN YEARTA 46 Josh Morrow stands proudly next to his Sod This tractor helps keep a consistent thickness for all turf Atlanta sign. Sod Atlanta, grass cut at Sod Atlanta. in Cartersville, has been in the turf grass business and servTifway and Tiftgreen grasses, which ing Georgia for more than 25 years. for much of the industry’s success. Annually, the turf grass and related industries contribute $7.8 billion to Georgia’s economy and make up nearly $117 million of the farm gate value. The turf grass segment accounts for 87,000 full-time and parttime jobs across the state. Much of the success of Georgia’s turfgrass industry can be attributed to the state’s ideal climate conditions. Georgia is blessed with mild temperatures and generally maintains good rainfall amounts. Not only are we fortunate to have an advantageous climate, but Georgia is also home to the University of Georgia Experiment Station researchers who have been developing the best varieties of turfgrass since the 1950s. Both More online at cover more golf courses, athletic fields and lawns than any other turf variety in the world, were developed at the UGA Coastal Plain Experiment Station in Tifton. Most businesses in the turf grass industry owe some of their start to the University of Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station. Although it began as a general store in 1893 in Lakeland, Patten Seed Co. has since become one of the leaders in the turfgrass industry through working with UGA. Throughout the 1950s and 1980s, due to Glenn Burton at the experiment station working hand in hand with Patten Seed entrepreneur Bill Roquemore, Patten Seed became a leader in providing superior turfgrasses to Southeastern and Caribbean golf courses. Since then, Patten Seed has continued to grow and GEORGIA MAGAZINE BLAKE POPPELL BLAKE POPPELL P hillip Jennings, of Soperton, was a recent graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens in the 1980s when he began baling wheat straw in South Georgia and selling it as ground cover to small nurseries in Atlanta. Shortly after beginning his new venture, he was supplying all of the Pike Nurseries in metro Atlanta. That relationship with Pike Nurseries led him to become “The Sod Father,” Georgia’s largest producer of certified turf grasses for golf courses and a variety of other customers. Jennings founded his turf company in 1998 at the suggestion of William L. Pike, who noted the difficulty in procuring the sod needed for sports facilities during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. “William Pike led me to turf grass after the shortage of grass in Atlanta after the Olympics in ’96,” says Jennings. “That has been a very good business for me because it led to so many other businesses and my love for agriculture and the land. He was the owner of Pike Nurseries at the time and remains a great friend and was a great mentor. I owe many of my successes in life to him and my parents.” Jennings’ customers now include golf courses, athletic fields, commercial landscape companies, retail outlets and homeowners. His company is the exclusive sod supplier to Home Depot and Pike Nurseries in the Southeastern United States and is an industry leader in sales of sod. The company also grew the turf for the 2005 Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. Although turf grass does not come to the mind as easily as a Vidalia onion or a Georgia peach, Georgia is home to some of the world’s top turf names and is responsible

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2013

Georgia Magazine - July 2013
Liberty Notes
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Georgia’s Energy Outlook
Fly-in or Drive-In
“Air Fare America”
Wood Basket of the World
Link to Video on Georgia’s Tree Industry
Lighten Up!
Control What You Consume
Around Georgia
Enhancing your adventure
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
More Snapshot photos
Plant of the month
July’s online trivia contest
Georgia Grown spotlight

Georgia Magazine - July 2013