November 2009 Archives

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for fert spreader.jpg Posted by Pete Landschoot

This November, turf managers and homeowners will be making late fall fertilizer applications with the hopes of improving turf vigor, color, and recovery from winter injury next spring. The main purpose of late fall fertilization is to enhance spring green-up without the excessive growth that often accompanies early spring fertilization. This green-up often will last into mid spring, so an early spring fertilizer application is not needed. A fertilizer application in mid to late spring is usually required to sustain turf color and growth into the summer months.

Research has shown that late fall fertilizer applications do not force as much leaf growth in spring as equal amounts of early spring nitrogen fertilizer, thus carbohydrates are not exhausted as quickly. Carbohydrates help turf tolerate environmental stress and recover from disease injury during spring and summer. The result is a slight advantage to the turf in the form of better heat and drought tolerance and recovery potential.

One reported advantage of late fall fertilization is increased root growth during late fall and winter. The theory is that roots are still growing at a time when shoot growth has ceased, thus allowing the roots to make full use of the fertilizer. However, root growth is very slow at this time of year, and if the soil is frozen, roots do not grow at all. Consequently, the benefit of increased root growth in response to fall fertilization is questionable.

Late fall fertilization should take place when foliar growth stops (or slows to the point that turf no longer needs to be mowed), grass is still green, and before the soil freezes. In Pennsylvania, this period usually occurs around Thanksgiving. Application timing may vary from year to year depending on weather conditions.

Late fall fertilizer applications can be put down on most lawns at rates of 1 to 1.5 lb of nitrogen/1000 sq ft. Just about any source of nitrogen can be used for late fall fertilization, but slow-release sources may be a better choice than soluble sources on sandy soils because of reduced potential for leaching. Nitrogen fertilizer should never be applied to frozen soil due to the increased chance of nutrient runoff. Although application timing is not as critical with phosphorus and potassium as it is with nitrogen, these elements can benefit turf when applied in late fall. Application rates for phosphorus and potassium should be determined according to soil test recommendations. There is no need to apply either of these nutrients if they are present in the soil at sufficient levels.
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Phosphate fertilizer free bag cropped.jpgA draft of New Jersey Senate Bill K204_0037 was recently released to the public, and contains language similar to legislation adapted by some Midwestern states concerning restrictions on phosphorus fertilization of turf.  However, the bill (in current form) goes further than restricting phosphorus applications, and includes proposals to regulate nitrogen rates and for mandatory certification of professional fertilizer applicators.  Selected excerpts from the bill are provided.
1.      No person may apply fertilizer to impervious surfaces, and any inadvertently applied shall be swept or blown back to the target surface or original container.

2.     No person may apply fertilizer within 10 feet of any water body, or when the ground is frozen, or after December 15 or before February 15.

3.     No professional fertilizer applicator may apply fertilizer to turf without first obtaining fertilizer certification from the Dept. of Environmental Protection.

4.     No person shall use phosphorus fertilizer on lawn turf unless a soil test indicates additional phosphorus is needed, or when used for establishing or repairing a turf area.

5.     No person shall apply fertilizer containing more than 70% water soluble nitrogen, or fertilizer containing nitrogen at a rate of more than 0.7 lbs water soluble nitrogen per 1000 sq ft at one time.  Exceptions are allowed for turf establishment.

Bills such as New Jersey Senate Bill K204_0037 are becoming more common around the country, and is one reason why turf managers and homeowners are seeing less phosphorus in fertilizer products.  Obviously, some aspects of New Jersey's proposed legislation will be easier for professional applicators to implement than others.  I will try to provide updates as this bill moves forward.  So far, legislation regarding turf fertilization has not been proposed in Pennsylvania.

Pete Landschoot, Prof. Turfgrass Science         
Meet Grad Students.JPG

Michael Shelley, a 2008 graduate of the Turfgrass Science program at Penn State, has started the pursuit of a Master's Degree in Soil Science. Under the direction of Dr. Andrew McNitt, he will be studying various aspects of safety and playability of synthetic and natural turf systems.

Penn State has recently partnered with FieldTurf, and Michael will be involved in constructing numerous synthetic turf plots as a part of the Center for Sports Surface Research. The Center's main areas of research will include athlete traction, field surface hardness, abrasiveness, and surface temperature control.

Mike is from Lancaster County, PA, most popularly known for its large Amish population. He completed his undergraduate internship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA and worked for the Brickman Group in Maryland. When he finds the time to catch a break from the books and research, he enjoys going for long runs around Centre County.

Chase Rogan.jpg

Chase Rogan began his pursuit of a Master of Science degree in Agronomy this fall under the guidance of Dr. Max Schlossberg.  His undergraduate work in Turfgrass Science was completed at Penn State in 2007.  Chase has nine years of work experience on three different golf courses, getting his start at Meadville Country Club in 2001.  Upon graduation, he completed a summer internship abroad at Huvudstadens Golf Club in Sweden.  Prior to returning to Penn State, Chase served nearly two years as an Assistant Superintendent at Edgewood Country Club in Pittsburgh. 

Chase's research will examine the effect of nitrogen and plant growth regulator applications on winter damage and spring green-up of creeping bentgrass/annual bluegrass cohabited fairways and putting greens.  Plant health and vigor will be examined following several different application regimes (i.e. rates and timings).  He hopes the study will provide further insight on how to prevent injury over tough winter seasons.  Chase will also investigate aspects of water retention in hydrophobic/repellent sand root zones, particularly as they relate to commercial wetting agent applications

Chase is from Saegertown, Pennsylvania.  His career goal is to positively influence the turfgrass industry as he moves forward after Graduate School.  Chase loves to tee it up in the summer time, and rides his mountain bike up steep inclines with unflagging speed.


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This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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