Wednesday, August 20, 2014
One Last Meal
Each year, in August, the grounds staff focuses on giving the course one final dose of food to get carbohydrates stored up before winter. Winter injury of Bermudagrass is a big concern in this part of the country, and while we can never truly prevent winter injury if the weather gets really cold, providing a timely amount of the right nutrients will give the plant a fighting chance. Douglas Knapp, our chemical applicator, has been hard at work this week applying a 10-5-22 blend of fertilizer "wall-to-wall", meaning that all maintained turf on property, minus greens, was treated. There is approximately 77 acres of maintained Bermudagrass on property that had to be treated and the staff was able to complete the application in about 10 hours.
For those who may not know, whenever you are looking at fertilizer bags, the three numbers on the front label are the percentages by weight, of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium, in that order. For fall applications on Bermuda, we always look for just enough nitrogen to sustain growth into October and let the plant naturally slow down into dormancy. You never want to apply high rates of nitrogen past mid-September, because it will cause the plant to become succulent and it will be susceptible to winter injury and disease in the spring. The main reason we choose this analysis is for the last number, the Potassium. Potassium has shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of winter injury in Bermudagrass in the transition zone. This analysis allows us to give the plant a high dose of this key nutrient just before it starts storing energy for dormancy, while keeping the amount of applied nitrogen relatively low. Also, there is a small amount of Phosphorous included in this mix to help encourage root density going into winter.
Once watered in, the fertilizer should begin to take effect just in time for Labor Day weekend. The plant response should last through October and set the course up very well for the upcoming busy tournament season!