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Why Late Fall Fertilization Is Key to Spring Success

October 2, 2017 | Categories: ,
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leaves on the grass with sun shining on them

Late fall fertilization has been promoted as a means of prolonging turf color of cool-season grasses into the early winter and increasing turfgrass health. Some of the benefits of late fall fertilization that we see in next year’s growing season are earlier spring green-up, improved turf density, increased tolerance to spring diseases, and fewer weeds. Another benefit is carbohydrate reserves. Applying fertilizer in the late fall can create these reserves in the stems and rhizomes, which help the turf resist winter injury and aid in environmental stress resistance the following spring. Late fall fertilization will also cause an increase in rooting as long as the soil is not frozen immediately after application. If temperatures are above freezing, roots are still growing at a time when shoot growth has slowed down, thus allowing roots to make more use of the fertilizer applied.

Most research has shown that late fall fertilization should take place when the foliar growth slows to a point that the turf no longer needs regular mowing. However, the plant is still producing chlorophyll for its green color, re-emphasizing before the soil temperature is freezing. Obviously, timing varies from year to year depending on our friend (or foe) Mother Nature.

Most late fall fertilization focuses on nitrogen; however, a little potassium can benefit the turfgrass plant as well. Nitrogen application ranges vary from 0.75 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. to 1.5 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. Often the overall success of late fall fertilization also depends on late summer and early fall applications made for the turf to recover from summer stresses.

ATS offers several late fall fertilization choices. Contact your ATS sales representative for more information about this important application.

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