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View Full Version : Stop fert apps when lawns are drought stressed?


RCA
06-26-2009, 03:10 PM
I'm interested to hear what you guys do during a drought. Do you risk burning a stressed lawn by doing a fert app? I currently use a 30% slow release but now I'm getting nervous here in the metro Atlanta area because of lack of rain. I'm seeing a lot of stressed Bermuda lawns out there right now.
Currently I'm making a judgement call on every lawn I treat. I'll fertilize it if it's irrigated or doesn't look stressed. Otherwise I reschedule it for another application when rainfall returns.
I know some of you guys use a 50% slow release fertilizer. Are you comfortable putting that stuff down in a drought?
I stress the importance of watering in applications to my customers but they don't always listen... so that's why I'm being cautious:confused:

DA Quality Lawn & YS
06-26-2009, 05:32 PM
Different climate here - but I am making it a soft rule not to put down fert past July 1 (until early fall app starts around Labor Day). July and Aug just historically too dry. And what I put down in June is granular at-least 50% slow, so you are right on with that.

phasthound
06-26-2009, 06:03 PM
This is a great time to add organic matter to the soil. A good organic fert applied during the summer will not burn at all. In fact, by increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil, turf becomes more tolerant of drought conditions and disease pressure. The nutrients in organic matter will not be released until turf actually needs it later in the season.

If you add organic matter as a summer app, there is no need to lose income by delaying or skipping an app.

RigglePLC
06-26-2009, 07:38 PM
I learned the biz at TruGreen. Wet or dry--hot or cold--sock it down. Hope for rain. There are a lot of lawns that are irrigated or where the customer is watering with a hose. Usually some weeds need spraying. There are a few customers that I have agreed to fert only when the soil is moist or rain is expected.

LawnoftheMonth
06-26-2009, 10:12 PM
Most of my customers are watering pretty well considering the drought we are in down here, if i come across total drought stress i use organic fert.

kirk1701
06-27-2009, 12:28 PM
I learned the biz at TruGreen. Wet or dry--hot or cold--sock it down. Hope for rain. There are a lot of lawns that are irrigated or where the customer is watering with a hose. Usually some weeds need spraying. There are a few customers that I have agreed to fert only when the soil is moist or rain is expected.

Thinking about skipping my summer application of Scotts and just buying soming specificlly for bug control instead. I put 10-10-10 down about three weeks ago when we had some goor rain so 10% N was enough to get through the summer and just hit it with a winterrizer when the weather starts to break.

Got a question for you with TryGreen, just wonder if its true, is there in fact a fert that will activate with rain? Spray it on the grass in the hot summer and it does not activate till it rains :confused:

What happens if its three weeks later and you mow?

RigglePLC
06-27-2009, 01:52 PM
Kirk,
I left TruGreen many years ago. I suspect that denitrification results in the loss of large percentages of urea nitrogen in some cases.

I think that most slo-release ferts like SCU, XCU and methylene urea work fine applied to dry soil and activated by water. A lot depends on what happens in the days immediately after the application. I use dry fertilizer every second application.

dishboy
06-27-2009, 02:12 PM
This is a great time to add organic matter to the soil. A good organic fert applied during the summer will not burn at all. In fact, by increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil, turf becomes more tolerant of drought conditions and disease pressure. The nutrients in organic matter will not be released until turf actually needs it later in the season.

If you add organic matter as a summer app, there is no need to lose income by delaying or skipping an app.

This is the best answer IMO.

Can you clarify, would not a Organic fertilizer unless it is composted be Organic Material, not Organic matter? I know there is a difference but am not sure of the exact criteria for each.

kirk1701
06-27-2009, 02:37 PM
Kirk,
I left TruGreen many years ago. I suspect that denitrification results in the loss of large percentages of urea nitrogen in some cases.

I think that most slo-release ferts like SCU, XCU and methylene urea work fine applied to dry soil and activated by water. A lot depends on what happens in the days immediately after the application. I use dry fertilizer every second application.
Thanks Riggle

This is the best answer IMO.

Can you clarify, would not a Organic fertilizer unless it is composted be Organic Material, not Organic matter? I know there is a difference but am not sure of the exact criteria for each.
Actually, been debating doing just this and I'm going back and forth with my making the decision. Partly because I don't want to do it twice.

I was going to put compost down in the fall and use it as a top dressing after I run the power rake through it and drop some seed.

Don't want to hi-jack this thread but seems like on topic, should I post pic's of the lawn here or start a new thread? Double guessing myself if what I'm seeing is 1. Stress or 2. a combination of fert burn and the fact it's full sun all day.

humble1
06-27-2009, 10:02 PM
Up here if the grass is stressed out and you have dry turf you can sure count of chinch bug damage. I would do 0-0-7 bifenthrin if it wasnt irrigated and dormant. 90 % of mine are irrigated. I would also have to agree that the organic option is a good one, but I also need to look at insect attack.

foreplease
06-27-2009, 10:41 PM
Cool season turf here. The only stuff I will put down during the heat of summer is water and maybe a wetting agent. Most of the places (athletic fields) I work on get their first shot of N since late May around Labor Day. In late May I use a heavy application with a big slow release component. After reading aobut it on lawnsite and talking to my fertilizer salesman, I tried MESA (62%) on a few places this year for the first time and have been very happy so far. I am still learning its response curve whereas I feel I know what to expect from a 70%-90% SCU product.

A couple get an organic fertilizer around the second week in August. They are irrigarted and the application is timed around first scheduled home game for the field.

I spray for grubs sometime in July, typically, with no fertilizer. For me, there is nothing to be gained by fertilizing during periods of heat or water stress. If I were doing yards I might play the actual current weather and pick my spots instead of relying on our weather trends.

kirk1701
06-27-2009, 11:53 PM
I spray for grubs sometime in July, typically, with no fertilizer. For me, there is nothing to be gained by fertilizing during periods of heat or water stress. If I were doing yards I might play the actual current weather and pick my spots instead of relying on our weather trends.

Exactly what I've been doing.
Last fert app was Mid April and I should have left it that way too :dizzy:

I played the weather about three weeks ago, got a light app of lime out (you guys said 6.2 Ph was fine) but I figured I know the side with tree's, it browns FAST come summer. Rather then fert I put a 10-10-10 down as a light fert to do till end of July.

We had a nice 2" of rain that day of the app and the following day then it got hot and humid.

EVM
06-28-2009, 12:01 AM
Cool season turf here. The only stuff I will put down during the heat of summer is water and maybe a wetting agent. Most of the places (athletic fields) I work on get their first shot of N since late May around Labor Day. In late May I use a heavy application with a big slow release component. After reading aobut it on lawnsite and talking to my fertilizer salesman, I tried MESA (62%) on a few places this year for the first time and have been very happy so far. I am still learning its response curve whereas I feel I know what to expect from a 70%-90% SCU product.

A couple get an organic fertilizer around the second week in August. They are irrigarted and the application is timed around first scheduled home game for the field.

I spray for grubs sometime in July, typically, with no fertilizer. For me, there is nothing to be gained by fertilizing during periods of heat or water stress. If I were doing yards I might play the actual current weather and pick my spots instead of relying on our weather trends.


How many weeks of fertilization do you get from a one pound per k application of 62% mesa?

foreplease
06-28-2009, 08:41 AM
How many weeks of fertilization do you get from a one pound per k application of 62% mesa?

I'm afraid I can't tell you from experience yet. One of the threads I read here that convinced me this is something I should talk to my sales rep about and try in some fashion is here (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=262754). Although there are a number of posts having to do with price, there are a lot of comments about how MESA-treated turf responds. What I am seeing in terms of color, length of response, and less clipping production is consistent with what is said in that thread.

On May 9 I put the 62% on a couple fields and am still seeing a good response. I mowed one of them Friday, June 26, and it is still looking great. This is about two weeks earlier than I prefer to make my late spring heavy rate slow release application but I had other reasons for doing it when I did. This is one that gets the early August organic fertilizer. In other years with SCU, this field has looked hungry by then - which is fine for the type of use it gets and game schedule. It will be interesting to see where I am 5-6 weeks from now when I have the organic scheduled.

Conveniently, I cut a football field at the same address Friday on which I used a different fertilizer and application date. It got the same rate (1 # N/M) on May 23 with 30-0-10 50% UFLEX. While it looks fine, the color is not as good and the clippings do seem to be heavier even though they are on the same irrigation and mowing schedules.