June 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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22 SportsTurf | June 2017 FACILITY & OPERATIONS For bluegrass that means sod quality, certified seed. For warm-season grasses that means certified planting stock, or a proven paper trail of where the grass originated. When your job depends on the sod, it needs to perform like the grass that has been tested and proven, the grass that you are expecting to get. ■ Is your soil or sand compatible with the field the sod is being installed on? If your stadium field has a percolation rate of 15 inches an hour, and your sod growing medium has a percolation rate of 7 inches an hour, you just slowed the drainage in your field down by 50%! It really sucks to spend $500,000 on a high-end stadium field, and then screw it up with one sod install! ■ If we get a lot of rain or snow, can you still harvest? ■ Do you have a list of references? Satisfied customers? ■ What kind of mowing equipment do you have? Can you produce a mowing height compatible with my existing field? ■ How much notice do you need to fulfill my order? Our best products are never available all the time. We plan 18 months ahead, and then take a second look at our inventory at 12 months before potential harvest. Our sod field planting happens in the summer time, and once we hit October, we cannot make any adjustments to our planting schedule. If we have not made plans for thick-cut sod, on a specific type of sand before October, it will be 2 years before we can have more mature, quality sod to deliver. Managing inventory for thick-cut sod is difficult, and expensive. If you are planning on playing on new sod immediately, the first thing to do is make sure you know the thickness of the sod so you can have the removal of the old field taken out at the right depth; if you can arrange for an actual piece of sod to be delivered prior to the removal process, that can be a huge benefit. You don't want to get the depth wrong and have to make adjustments after the sod is delivered. Know your access points. Where will you begin sodding, where will you end? Make sure you have minimized traffic on the field when planning your installation strategy. If possible, aerify the field prior to sodding. Solid tines are all you need; you don't want to pull cores. All of the equipment from the removal process and sodding process will compact your field. Just a simple quarter inch solid tine aerification can make a huge difference in water percolation and sod rooting. If you have time, rototill and laser level. You don't get many opportunities to expose your subsurface and alleviate compac- tion issues or level issues on your field. This is a great time to hit the "reset" button on your subsurface. Budget time and money for rototilling and leveling if possible. GARY WILBER, OAKWOOD SOD FARM Delmar, MD Quality sod is healthy, clean, high tensile strength sod. Specifications that focus on sod age often don't account for the improvement/decline of sod strength because the growth potential of different species varies with the seasons. The customer visiting the farm should come with an understanding of his/her need for sod in the future. The customer can then ask if the farm's production can meet that need. If the customer has a deadline or event, production can be reserved. Also, if the customer has specifications like soil type or sod thickness, they can be discussed and understood by all parties. Farms want to please their customers. Unfortunately events like severe weather i.e., high heat/severe cold/drought/excessive rainfall can cause shortages because of unforeseen demand or production issues. We do not produce sod on plastic and rarely do thick cut jobs. The keys to any successful sod project are site prepara- tion and water. Is the base firm and properly graded? If the base is not stable or holds water the best sod can fail. Likewise, if water is limited then sod will stress and deteriorate. JOE TRAFICANO, WEST COAST TURF Mesa, AZ For quality, we look at root mass, turf density, shear strength, mowing height consistency, consistent harvest depth, and nice green color. Last year's NCAA national title game: no divots and no shearing. COURTESY OF EVERGREEN TURF, CHANDLER, AZ.

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