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Old 09-08-2013, 09:32 AM
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gcbailey gcbailey is online now
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: WV
Posts: 2,437
Thanks for the reply... I was somewhat surprised that the state suggested Purdue. I'm about 40 miles from Va Tech (cough, cough) and they are a huge AG school. Myself personally I'm for the other Michigan, GO BLUE!! haha.

One thing I've been learning is that this particular area is somewhat of an anomaly. I guess we are technically listed as a transition zone, but we are up in the mountains, where in no amount of distance you can go from 1,400ft to 3,200ft and 15-20 degrees variations of temperature and seasonal changes.

The types of grasses is something I'm somewhat weak on. I can tell the difference between bluegrass and fescue, but then you start throwing in all these "hybrids" and everything else... I've also noticed several of our higher end properties contain multiple species of grasses, so I assume you have to treat that a little different too.

As far as a local dealer, that's somewhat of a problem. There is a JD lanscapes about 2 hours away in Roanoke, VA, but within the immediate area we have a Purina Farm and Feed and they are mostly AG related and don't have much knowledge of anything related to specifics of fertilizers outside of "we carry this...". We also have a TSC, for what it's worth. I know the fertilizer company I mentioned in the previous post orders everything by the truckload straight from the manufacturer or regional distributor.

Even as far as purchasing a decent spreader or sprayer, none of that is available for local purchase. Around here it's Lowe's and their Scott's products and from what I've read on LS, that's paying for a brand and most of their application rates are for their cheap spreaders, then you have to do extra math to use another brand spreader with their products.

Originally Posted by foreplease View Post
Congratulations on getting to the next level gc.

For your area Penn State, Rutgers, or VA (do they have a turf dept?) would probably offer the most relavant advice. Purdue is certainly fine. I am partial to Michigan State

Best thing you can do for yourself and customers initially is develop a keen awareness of the predominant soil types and grass species in your area. Then begin learning what those grasses require annually and how those soil types handle fertilizers.

You are going to arrive at a range of needs per thousand square feet (M, some use K as abbreviation) per year. That baseball field might be a good place to experiment and they might like to have a couple free or cheap fertilizer trials. Anyway, your reading and talking to others will help you arrive at something like this for your area:
Low maintenance and overall standards 1.5# nitrogen/M per year. Probably does not treat for weeds, mows every 10-14 days, non-irrigated. Many places that are truly low maint don't fertilize at all.

Medium Maintenance maybe something like 2.5# N/yr

High end could be something like 4-5# N/yr (I do not have any athletic fields that use more than 4#/yr fwiw).

Then it becomes how should you deliver it (apply), how often, and when-a slightly different question from how often. Most cool season turf is better off with a big chunk of its total nitrogen delivered in Fall. It ell places that only want to fertilize once to do it late September to early October (southern MI).

Distinguish yourself by buying and using good products. My customers appreciate that I use high end slow release products and do not have to come as often. In Fall I will use all mineral (cheaper) fertilizers or low percentage slow release. You can learn a lot from your dealer/distributor. I don't buy fertilizer from them any more but John Deere Landscapes would be a good place to start.

I am not ignoring P and K, just trying to get you started on N, which is the key element of turf fertilizer plans.

Also, read about the nitrogen cycle to learn how various sources of nitrogen break down and become available to the plant. That should get you started.
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