Late Summer Turf Recovery: Prepare and Execute
It’s that time of year again; time evaluate the turf conditions at your facility or property and prepare for late summer turf recovery and early fall renovation. Let’s review a few basic concepts to get a leg up on a busy fall.
Everyone seems to have stressed turf somewhere this time of year. Fixing the stressed turf should start with an evaluation of whether you can recover your turf or need to apply seeding practices. Advanced Turf Golf Sales Rep Travis Livingston explains how you can determine between recovery or seed practices.
“Inspecting the turfgrass plant’s crown area for viable leaf tissue and root hairs will help determine if it is recovering,” Livingston says. “Depending on the density and variety of the declining turf, a decision can then be made to overseed. A soil test and or tissue test is never a bad idea during a declining turf recovery program to ensure the plant has everything it needs to respond and recover as quickly as possible.”
Advanced Turf Solutions Golf Sales Rep Jason Renfrow echos Livingston when it comes to testing.
“Late summer and early fall can be a great time to do a soil test,” Renfrow says. “Testing often offers clarity on exactly what soil deficiencies exist.”
If it was determined the turf could recover from summer stress, Advanced Turf Golf Sales Rep Ryan Smith says to keep these things in mind.
“On greens that are stressed, the grass plant is deprived of carbohydrates at this point, and that is what the plant requires more than a shot of nitrogen,” Smith says. “The Foliar-Pak Oh $h8t Program is perfect for stressed turf. It is comprised of a few apps of Bio Sea, Foundation Forty, Micros Plus, and Promote. I’d add in Amperage to recover turf without a large shot of nitrogen.”
He adds, “If fertilizing with granular, this is a time to apply an organic, like Healthy Grow 10-3-2 or 8-3-5. If fertilizing a newly-seeded area, please go with a high phosphorus product to aid in establishing new turf. Advanced turf carries a variety of options to achieve this.”
Renfrow says to also keep root depth in mind.
“The biggest thing that plants are lacking this time of year is root depth. Plants are often deficient in phosphorus and potassium this time of year. Foliar-Pak products, like Armament P and Armament K, can help release nutrients that are tied up in the soil and help drive roots.”
Making plans to renovate, overseed, interseed, etc.? The best time to start these plans is quickly approaching: mid-summer through early fall, depending on your geographic location.
Ryan Smith, who is located in the transition zone says, “Mid-August to mid-September is the standard ideal time for seed work, with mid-September to mid-October as the next best time to make magic happen.” While Advanced Turf Seed Manager Rusty Stachelwitz, who works in the more northern Midwest states, says, “mid-August is the best time to seed.”
Remember, when seeding golf courses in the late summer and early fall, there are things to consider to achieve a successful project.
Advanced Turf Golf Sales Rep Matt Welch says, “Before seeding, have a plan in place for consistent feeding of your new seedlings. Also, be prepared to monitor your soil moisture constantly. Both of these are crucial for success.”
“No matter the area, seed to soil contact is imperative, says Stachelwitz. “Try to use a slit seeder when possible. When not possible, breaking up the soil by verticutting or aerifying will help.”
According to Stachelwitz, the most important thing to consider when seeding is why the previous turf failed. If this is not addressed, it is hard to achieve a successful seeding project.
“Above all, the reason why the previous turf failed needs to be addressed,” Stachelwitz says. “Putting new seed in an area where grass couldn’t survive is a recipe for disaster. Correct a soil, light, water, or traffic issue that caused the initial failure before you put out more seed.”
Stachelwitz has a few tips for seeding after you discover why the turf failed, especially when it comes to small areas of thinned-out greens. The first tip is a great way to put your wisely-chosen bentgrass variety right where you want it.
“In small areas, like thin spots on greens, a tool like the Accuform Accuseed can help prepare a seedbed,” he says. “Also, repaired areas should be roped off to decrease or eliminate traffic when possible and make sure seeded areas get a starter fertilizer such as ATS 16-28-12 with ZnB 30% PSCU or ATS 12-24-10 with Foliar-Pak ZnB in close mowed turf.”
If you need to seed areas such as fairways or roughs, Smith urges Superintendents to review their goals and whether they would like to add more of the same turf types or move in another direction. He says Advanced Turf Sales Reps are more than happy to assist with making the proper seed selection for your project needs.
Eliminating any unwanted weed species will allow turf to flourish with fall seeding and fertility programs. Ryan Smith relates that timing is vital when planning for overseeding/interseeding projects and dealing with unwanted weeds.
“Timing is important when dealing with unwanted broadleaf weeds. If cleaning up broadleaf weeds, make applications 2-4 weeks ahead of planned overseeding/interseeding projects, and always pay attention to seeding intervals on the label of your chosen herbicide.”
Besides timing, starter fertilizers are also important when eliminating broadleaf weeds for late summer projects.
“Don’t forget a starter fertilizer for your late summer and early fall seeding projects,” Advanced Turf Solutions Golf Sales Rep Todd Fregien says. “The Anderson’s 21-22-4 with Mesitrione will provide all the necessary nutrients along with safe broadleaf weed control.”
When it comes to grassy weed control, nutsedge can be troublesome at this time. However, Todd Fregien has a great answer to this problem. He encourages the use of FMC’s Dismiss NXT for controlling yellow nutsedge. He says it is an excellent choice for complete control of yellow nutsedge.
Late summer is also a great time to knock out any summer annuals that have broken through.
It’s essential to continue your regular turf practices through the rest of the growing season, especially when it comes to disease control.
“As the conditions for many fungal diseases fade with cooler temperatures, dollar spot re-energizes,” Advanced Turf Solutions Sales Rep Steve Honeycutt says. “It favors the cool, nighttime temperatures and heavy dew typical for late summer.”
We all understand the importance of aeration to turf recovery; however, we often push it back into the late fall because golfers are not fond of playing on newly aerified greens. Ryan Smith urges against this.
“As always, we have to be flexible and work around golf schedules that may not put our timing at its the best, but earlier is always better to allow for a full recovery and even additional aerifications if necessary,” Smith says. “Each situation is different and requires some planning on how best to execute a successful aeration, but, your turf will be better off. Do not skip this tedious process, regardless of the obstacles.”
Take advantage of the fantastic turf growing weather in September and early October when planning aerifications and fill in the holes as much as possible with topdressing to prevent the holes from collapsing. This will extend the benefits of aerification through the fall. Working a little seed into the topdressing in thin areas certainly won’t hurt, either.
Above all, always remember to consider your end goals when preparing to aerify. Whether your end goals are gas exchange, soil modification, turf renovation, or something else, keeping them in mind will help make the process as successful as possible.
Late summer is always a vital time to evaluate and prepare for what is best for your situation. Your local Advanced Turf rep can help you in designing a custom program that best fits your needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out!