Producer Profile: Lindy Murff of Murff Turf Farm in Crosby, Texas
This month’s Producer Profile features Texas native Lindy Murff of Murff Turf Farm. Lindy is a prominent member of Turfgrass Producers International.
1. Tell me about the history of Murff Turf
My father, Bill Murff, was a teacher of Agriculture at the High School in Crosby, Texas. During the summer months he was looking for something that would earn himself extra income as well as something he could enjoy. He began to landscape houses and was buying some turf to plug yards. He decided to plant some Floratam St. Augustine on his land. It took two crop failures and three years to grow in his first crop of sod. He began with five acres. He had a landscaper that would come out and harvest his own sod, using a Ryan walk behind sod cutter. This would occur while my father was at his teaching job. From 5 acres, he would add 5 more acres and the cycle, thankfully, has continued. Today, Murff Turf Farm, Inc. employees 50+ people, growing seven varieties of turf, on 3300 acres of turf grass fields.
2. Did you always plan on being a sod farmer or was there something else you had originally planned to do?
While attending Texas A & M University, my plans were to not go back to the farm. I felt the need to prove my own worth and make my own path. My senior year I wised up and realized that going back to work with my father, I could indeed forge my own path and take advantage of the wonderful opportunity my father had created. It was a wise decision and I am happy that I came to the realization that working in a family business is a great thing.
Texas is unique. There are many farms in the Gulf Coast region and thus the competition tends to suppress the prices greatly over what I see in other parts of the country. Our farm is located only 25 miles from Downtown Houston. This is both a blessing and a curse. Land prices are at a value that makes the purchasing of land for farming difficult. At the same time, our proximity to the local market is a benefit.
3. What changes to you see coming to the industry over the next ten years?
I believe in the next ten years it will become more and more difficult from a production standpoint with higher regulations on what chemicals and fertilizers we can use. The EPA is constantly tightening the noose. WATER. Water and its use will be a large factor in the types of grasses that are produced in the coming years. In the Gulf Coast region, I see this as being one of the largest issues we face. Education of the public will be a key factor in this battle. Local water authorities are requiring less groundwater to be used and charging higher rates for its use. We must produce turfgrass that needs less water and we must educate the public that most are overwatering their lawns and landscapes.
4. Tell me about your family life and your support structure at home.
I have a wife of 16 years, Amanda. Three children, Noah (12), Emma (9), Cooper(7). The children are educated by Amanda at home as well as attending Trinity Classical School in Houston. We live across the street from where I grew up. My mother, brother, brother-in-law, and cousins all live on the same property. Murff Turf is a family affair through and through. I handle farming operations, while my brother Scott cares for the financial workings and my sister Renee handles much of the administrative duties of the office. We also work daily with my cousin Mark Walker of Mark Walker trucking, who handles the majority of our freight needs. The combination of the wonderful efficiency of the trucking of our product and a good quality product and production have been a key to our success. It is really a family affair. Do we always see eye to eye? Not always but there is a good working relationship that has worked well over the years. I also believe that growing improved varieties through our relationship with Sod Solutions have been essential to keeping an updated product line available to our customers. If I were asked to choose a favorite variety, I would say it would be EMPIRE® Zoysia. I absolutely love this sod from a production standpoint and as an end user myself. I have it all around my own house and I love it.