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micros for late spring

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by americanlawn, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,946

    I have already ordered our pre + fert for early spring. Now looking at incorporating micro nutrients for late spring (Midwest). Many efficient flowables out there, but I'm looking for a slow-release "granular" product (ease of use) instead of spraying liquids.

    I think micros are pretty much a waste of money during summer/fall, but I would like to know what works for you regarding micro nutrients.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,765

    Don't bother. If micronutrients are needed, that is because there are issues with the soil causing them to be tied up. I hate seeing micronutrients added in amounts only sufficient to stain pools and concrete. Take iron, for example. Effective rates of iron sulfate applied dry are more like 10 lbs per 1000 sq ft. That would mean 5 lb of the NPK and 10 lb of iron. Ironite works because you are applying 10 or more lbs per 1000 and it is in the form of sulfates and sulfides.
  3. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,053

    I agree completely. In most cases all the nutrients you need are already in the soil. One of the jobs of soil biology to make these nutrients plant available through the process of mineralization.

    A quick reference point:

    More sources:
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,561

    Good points. The people who sell micronutrients are enthusiastic about their benefits...but if there are no deficiencies...you will see no improvements. I would suggest that a "Plant tissue test" .

    That way you can compare what minerals are supposed to be in a healthy plant with what is actually in your grass blades.
  5. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    You can also get a hint about micronutrient deficiencies (and macro- ones as well) just by looking at the grass plants. For sure, a tissue test helps you to narrow down the problem and make sure that you're not wasting any money or time.

    Just out of curiosity, what do you guys on this board do for soil and/or tissue testing? When do you soil test and why? Do you ever need to tissue test? Why?

    I think my "system" has worked pretty well, but I want to know if maybe you guys have anything better.
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,561

    Good point, Skip. Years ago I used to check some new estimate lawns with my inexpensive hand held pH meter--if the soil was moist. Seldom a need for lime. I had a few soil tests done as samples to get an idea of my neighborhoods and to detect any that had unusual problems. I also did soil tests on several yards in a neighborhood association that was clustered around a small lake. They wanted zero phosphorus, of course. We got phosphorus down to 14 pounds per acre in one yard--it still looked fine.

    I did not test for micronutrients--nor did I have any tissue tests on my own. They cost around 5 times as much as a soil test. They check for around 20 nutrients. I am sure the top baseball fields and championship golf course groundskeepers go for tissue tests at times. Sorry Barry. I did not check the soil bacteria and bio activity. Naturally you would only want to check problems lawns and only sample the areas--not tissue test every lawn.

    Based on symptoms of mineral deficiencies..I found it difficult to judge. I only had a book that showed deficiencies in corn. Similar to grass--not the same. Are there any good references as to the symptoms of mineral deficiencies in Kentucky bluegrass? Other grass species?
  7. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    My regular program is to take soil samples over 5% of my customer base each year. These are drawn randomly from a map. That way, I can map out pH, P, and K trends across time and across locations. I just so happens that most of the lawns I treat on the north side of town have a pH of 6.8, but the ones on the south side of town are closer to 8.0. So, I only make the sulfur applications in the south side routes, not the north side routes.

    I've only done about 5 tissue tests in my 30+ yrs in the business. All of them were from clients who specifically requested it. For managing lawns, I don't see a whole lot of micro deficiencies. I think its more popular in golf because of the sand based rootzones, the low fert programs, managing 'on the edge', and the high expectations of the clientele.
  8. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,946

    I am located in the upper Midwest. Anymore, most lawns we fertilize are high pH/clay soil. We did 212 soil tests about 15 years ago (3-4 inch depth/4 core samples per property). The soil tests were paid for by 'Agro Culture Liquid Fertilizer' out of central Michigan.

    Loam soils pretty much just lacked nitrogen.

    Clay soils were ALL deficient in nitrogen PLUS several micro nutrients >> Fe, Bo, Mn, Zn, Co, Mg, Su, Mb, etc.

    Most LCO's around here just apply N during late spring when homeowners have a tough time keeping up with mowing. Conversely, we apply all needed micro's. (costs more, but the results are amazing). Plus, we can cut back on nitrogen -- less mowing & much better color.

    We acquire most new customers during the spring from referrals. It's usually because "our lawns" look better.

    Tried the organic bridge products, but..........

    Then there's land grant university studies that confirm the need for micro's in high pH soils.

  9. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,765

    When soil conditions indicate a need such as high pH, micronutrients get the grass green. A lot better than putting on more and more nitrogen. I try to keep lawns with enough N to maintain healthy growth, however I do not load it up to make the grass greener. If I want the grass greener, that is what the sprayable micronutrients are for. Besides, it is not a good idea to make grass grow 2" per week when the HOC is 1/2".
  10. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,946

    All the above posts make sense. (thanks) I've got a handful of the 1997 soil test results in my hand. Clay soil lawns ranged in pH 7.9 - 8.2. According to MVTL Laboratories, every sample lacked organic matter. (good point Barry)

    I rarely have problems with loam soil lawns, so here goes with the problem (clay) lawns. Most deficient micronutrients regarding Midwest turfgrass in high pH soils = iron, copper, zinc, boron. source: ISU

    I realize sulfur would work and organic matter would fix the problem, but these require truckloads. thoughts? what has worked for you and what time of year is best? liquid? granular? easiest product to apply? thanks in advance

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