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Stop fert apps when lawns are drought stressed?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by RCA, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. RCA

    RCA LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    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:
  2. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,896

    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.
  3. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,583

    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.
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,225

    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.
  5. LawnoftheMonth

    LawnoftheMonth LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 355

    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.
  6. kirk1701

    kirk1701 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    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?
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,225

    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.
  8. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Platinum Member
    from zone 6
    Posts: 4,234

    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.
  9. kirk1701

    kirk1701 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    Thanks Riggle

    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.
  10. humble1

    humble1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from MA
    Posts: 2,499

    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.

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