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No germination on finelawn elite?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by TurnerLawn&Landscape, Apr 1, 2011.

  1. TurnerLawn&Landscape

    TurnerLawn&Landscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    Alright fellas, im in zone 3, northern kentucky. I put down 1800 sq ft of finelawn elite fescue. Added starter fert and straw (the area was fresh topsoil) This was 4 weeks ago and it was high 50's, but stilll dipping down to mid to high 30's at night. The customer called yesterday and said that nothing is growing, and that their neighbor put down seed the same week i did and that theirs is growing. I explained that different seeds germinate at different temps. I have never had seed not grow at all in the 11 years ive been doing this. Any thoughts/suggestions on what might be the problem? Im convinced its the cold weather, last week it snowed twice. Correct me if im wrong but i know some fescues dont germinate until the low temps are in the high 40's to low 50's.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    How do you get zone 3, in Kentucky? Mountains?... Here in Wisco kind of on the line between Z3 and Z4, but considered Z4 nowdays... we still have snow on the ground that refreezes rock hard the second the sun is down...

    That means our soil temperature is way below freezing probably close to 0...

    Even cool season grasses require soil temperatures to be around 50 degrees... This is an El Nina year, which gave us in the midwest this lousy Spring, and it may have affectted you as well...

    Just wait for the warm soil to surround your seed one day and it should pop. BTW, that straw will keep the ground colder, longer...
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Ya, still way too early. Even here in zone 5 it's going to take another week to two weeks to get good germination.

    Ground temps here maybe a shade above 43*, but that's it. It's been a cold early spring.
  4. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,727

    Fescue is much slower to germinate than perennial ryegrass. Be sure to explain this to customer in advance--and be sure he understands. Cold soil temps will at least double the time it takes. Probably if you go out there to look--you will find tiny sprouts the customer has pretended to not notice. It is always a good idea to plant a sample of the seed inside in a coffee mug--and keep it warm inside to be sure--just to be sure it is good. And to show the customer to reassure him. Also save an additional sample in case you have to sue the seed company or complain to the guys that test the seed. I am pretty sure fescue does absolutely nothing until soil temp is above 50. Check the soil temp. This is why a lot of seed companies inclued some annual or perennial rye in their blends--it reduces callbacks.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    OP stated..."Correct me if im wrong but i know some fescues dont germinate until the low temps are in the high 40's to low 50's.

    No mention of soil temps and no feedback
  6. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,346

    Did they water?
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    "Did they water?"...

    Hoses would freeze... :laugh:
  8. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,746

    I am in zone 7 and will admit that Fescue's around here don't germinate until the soil is in the 50's as well.
  9. bigslick7878

    bigslick7878 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 809

    Typically seed will not germinate when weather is cold enough for it to be snowing. The beginning of March is way too early to put down seed, it is not going to germinate until the SOIL temp is at a certain point. You might be close now, but a month ago were not even in the ballpark.
  10. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,727

    So you are north of Baltimore. I cannot tell form the national map if you are above 50 yet.
    But You will just have to tell the customer to be patient. Fescue is adapted to warmer temps than the ryegrass the neighbor probably is using. After temp hits 90 and the ryegrass gets brown patch, gray leaf spot, and red thread, your customer will be glad he got the good seed to start with. Show him the seed brochure or the online information for Finelawn. He will get an idea of why you wanted better seed to start with. Of course you would be in even better shape if you could show him a webpage or brochure of an even better, more disease-resistant type of tall fescue...Like Cayenne:

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