Could the Southeast be faced with sod shortages in 2015?

Dr. Grady Miller, Professor of Crop Science and Extension Specialist at North Carolina State University reports that in recent discussions with North Carolina sod growers it was apparent that there will be a significant shortage of bermudagrass sod this winter and spring. But he added, with good growing conditions the growers may be able to catch up in early to mid-summer.

Why shortages when just five years ago inventory levels were relatively high? There have been multiple factors involved. There was already reduced sod acreage following the downturn in the economy. The increase in construction over the last year and a rapid switch to a preference for bermudagrass by builders has contributed to the shortage. Add to that the poor summer growing conditions (prolonged springs and limited light) for warm-season grasses the last two years and the result is a depleted supply of bermudagrass.

A recent sod survey from the University of Georgia indicates they too have a similar supply shortfall. (

Dr. Clint Waltz, Turfgrass Extension Specialist at the University of Georgia is quoted as saying, “Several growers have told me that strong fall sales have dropped their inventories of warm-season grasses down to levels lower than they commonly experience in the first five months of the year.” Sod growers in the southeast suggest this shortage is universal across the region.

What does this mean? All growers, regardless of size and location, will not have adequate bermudagrass sod to meet the demand. Miller suggests, “This will likely result in an increase in bermudagrass sod cost. In some cases, if sod must be installed during this period, the buyer may have to select an alternative grass.”

Our thanks to Linda Bradley of Turf Mountain Sod, Hendersonville, NC for bringing this story to our attention.— from Jim Novak at Turfgrass Producers International