Winterizer and Root Growth

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Smallaxe, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    "For years, researchers have claimed that fall and winter root growth of cool-season turfgrass species should be stimulated by late-season and/or winter nitrogen applications. This stimulation should occur as fall temperatures decline to the point that root growth is favored over shoot growth. Previous research at Ohio State has shown that root growth of cool-season turfgrass species does indeed occur during the fall after shoot growth has slowed or ceased. This situation develops because roots grow quite well when soil temperatures are between 40 and 65 degrees F, while shoot growth is favored at temperatures in the 60-75 F degree range. In fact, some root growth will occur as long as the soil remains unfrozen."

    Note that the first sentence is talking about what the researchers have claimed, then goes on to talk about the observations of root growth... their observations are not making any comment about late season and/or winter nitrogen applications
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    In the same article we discover that late-season fert, continues the root growth in the Spring w/out the troublesome Spring mowing problems that stop root growth at the same time...

    "... The true advantage that late-season fertilization provides to turfgrass root growth is realized during the following spring. It has been shown that the root growth of turf fertilized during the late-winter/early spring declines soon after nitrogen application (3 & 5). Conversely, turf fertilized using the late- season concept becomes green early and rapidly, without the need for an early spring nitrogen application, and root growth continues at a maximum rate. It appears that the excessive shoot growth encouraged by early spring nitrogen applications utilizes carbohydrates that may otherwise be used for growing roots..."

    So my question becomes:
    Should we have a different strategy worked up to replace the Scott's/TGCL 4-7 step program?
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,231

    Good question. Are you skeptical about statements like, "researchers have claimed"?

    So am I. And is it best to use quick release nitrogen or slow-release? What about potash and Phos?
    Exactly how much quicker greenup can we expect in spring? 3 days? 10 days? How much "surge-growth"? 10 percent more clippings? 20 percent?

    Does the same data apply to both blue and rye? Fescue and Bermuda?

    Exactly how much additional root growth can we expect? 10 percent? 50 percent? Do they mean more depth? Fatter roots? Does that translate into greater drought hardiness later on in the heat?

    Ok guys--your experience? Your opinion? How would you set up a test?

    CHARLES CUE LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,093

    I have always been skeptical at best on the winter fert app

    I have done winter apps on 1/2 of a couple lawns and in the spring and you could not tell the difference in the spring or in the summer when it got hot and dry

    Now if the roots get deeper and fatter i don't know

    If you cut you grass at 3 inchs does that mean you roots are only 3 ichs deep
    Any way

    Have you ever dug in a hay field [cool season grass ] where the grass is allowed to grow 3 ft tall and the roots are not any deeper than the ones in my yard

    But it's a great for sales one more app

    Research always finds some thing new and different

    If it works for you do it

    Charles Cue
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    This wasn't to be an 'opinion' type thing... this was about, ..."How to analyse the topic of a published scientific article, discerning its thought, intent and conclusion"... that is what this post was about....

    Too often we pretend to know something that has no relation to reality and use evidence as an opinion that does not address the subject matter at all...

    I hope this is not another dead end... :)
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    This is a good point of actual analysis... "How can we measure root development"...?

    However, "If it works for you..." is meaningless... :)

    CHARLES CUE LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,093

    May be to you its Meaningless but not to me

    Some thing seem to work for some people and some thing does don't

    Or we would all do the same thing

    Just because it's in print does not make it so

    Research can be made to say what the researcher believes or wan't it to say

    Charles Cue
  8. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,899

    This topic is a dilemma for me too. I just do not buy the late fall 'winterizer' N app thing, that it will encourage an early spring green up. Who out there has any real evidence that this is so? If it is just wives tales, then I would rather just do final app early in fall when the turf can fully utilize the feeding, and screw the spring carryover thing.
  9. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,834

    I have noticed no difference in green up aswell with the possible exceptions of a few but other factors could have been in play.

    But I also just received a soil analysis. From mass amherst. That is screaming for a heavy late fall application and a very early one... go figure...
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    So what everyone is saying, that the OSU and many other Uni.s, are unable to do valid research on the botanical processes of plants or measure root growth, or analyse carb storage and useage...

    Well I understand there is more money in fertilizing frozen turf or real close to it, but it only cost the client money for no benefit... that's know as rip-off, unless we can justify it by saying othewise.. the we can make more money as soon as the snowis gone by assuming that our dormant fertilizer has washed away with spring thaw snow melt and put some more down and use up the energy that the plant had stored for spring growth...

    But that is all subjective... no such thing a truth... fertilizer acts according to my imagination and the universities that research it, isn't able to measure root growth...

    That seems to be the point I'm hearing out there... no wonder major urban areas near water bodies are constantly placing bans on lawncare pros...

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