August 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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www.spor 8 // August 2017 Late fall fertilization of sports turf in northern climates // By DR. PETE LANDSCHOOT F all is the time of year when cool-sea- son turfgrasses recover from summer drought stress, heat, and disease. For sports fi elds, fall is also the time that turf takes a beating from football and other fall sports. This year, many sports turf managers in the northern US will be making fertilizer applications in late fall with hopes of im- proving turf color, vigor, and recovery from fall/winter injury the following spring. This article examines how late fall fertilizer ap- plications infl uence turf performance, when to make applications, as well as the types of fertilizers and rates which may provide a desirable turf response. Why fertilize in late fall? Whereas late fall fertilization is not an abso- lute necessity, there may be a few reasons why sports turf managers might want to apply nitrogen towards the end of the fall sports season. Perhaps the main reason is to extend green turf color to the end of the season, which can be well into November or even December if there are post-season football games scheduled. This late season color response of cool-season turfgrasses to nitrogen fertilizer is more noticeable in re- gions where winters are warmer and during periods of mild temperatures in November and December. Late fall nitrogen applica- tions can also enhance spring green-up of turf without the excessive growth that often accompanies early spring fertilization. This green-up will often last into the middle of spring, so an early spring fertilizer applica- tion may not be needed. A fertilizer applica- tion in mid- to late spring is usually required to sustain turf color and growth into the summer months. A small but potentially important in- crease in the plant's carbohydrate reserves occurs when nitrogen fertilizer is applied in fall instead of early spring. Cool-season turf- grasses accumulate carbohydrates in stems and rhizomes during fall. Carbohydrates

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