Bruce Carter owns B & C Management, Inc. and is president of Super Turf, Indiantown, Fla. He has been involved with several aspects of agriculture over the past decade, from training racehorses (which is what brought him to Indiantown), to growing sweet corn and now Diamond zoysia turfgrass. Diamond zoysia is a fine-textured, vegetatively propagated, warm-season variety with tolerance to low light conditions, salty soils and high traffic. Diamond is best maintained at a very low mowing height. Dr. Milt Engelke, professor of agronomy at Texas A&M University, developed Diamond primarily for indoor domed stadiums, hence its ability to thrive in shade.
Unlike other turfgrasses, Diamond grass is grown on a thin layer of fine sand between it and the soil. It is harvested in rolls or squares and stacked on pallets for shipment. “I am truly excited about this new turfgrass,” said Carter. “Diamond turfgrass installs quickly, which means it saves the buyer money in labor costs to install it while decreasing the downtime of the facility.”
Diamond zoysia is new to Florida, but is well established and popular in South Carolina where John Brown, president of Newlife Turf, is currently finishing an installation on the Shipyard Golf Club on Hilton Head Island. All 27 holes at the Shipyard Golf Club are now Diamond zoysia. The product is also on tees, fairways and collars at the Atlanta Athletic Club and the practice greens at Caledonia Golf and Fish Club in Pawleys Island, as well as being researched and tested for the greens at Temple Terrace Golf Course is Southwest Florida.
Carter has around 200 acres of turf planted at any given time on three locations in Martin County. In the wintertime, the golf courses in Florida are at their busiest with players and are not reworking their courses, so from November through April, Carter leases his fields out to local polo players for practice. With his farm located right next door to an upscale equestrian facility and down the road from a world-famous polo player, this is a win-win for everyone. He likes generating some income at a time when he would normally not have much. He is also an owner/borrower of Farm Credit for his equipment financing needs. Bruce says, “It just makes sense to work with a lender who understands the nature of agriculture. Everyone knows how difficult the business is, and they work with you instead of against you.”
Carter says he is strategically situated to service his clients in a cost-effective and proficient manner. While most of his previous sales have come from word-of-mouth, both Brown and Carter are planning on doing some advertising and marketing. They will attend industry trade shows, and Carter always encourages potential buyers to come and visit his farm in Martin County.
“I see the Diamond product being as successful here in Florida as it is in the Carolinas,” Carter said. “I believe small businesses like mine provide higher quality products and personalized, one-on-one service. We are more flexible than the large, impersonal corporate producers. I am accessible 24/7. I think my current customers appreciate my passion and dedication, and for that reason, I have the potential to increase my repeat business and these contacts will help me with new sales. I’m in this business because I love it.”
The author is vice president of marketing at Farm Credit of South Florida. She is a board member for the Florida Ag in the Classroom program and a former president of the Palm Beach Chapter Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association.