December 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 10 // December 2017 at the surface can also contribute to a greater incidence of snow mold. If wetting agents infl uence the moisture status at shallow depths, they have the potential to reduce these winter-related problems. There is no research to support this, however in theory, products geared towards hydration should be used where desiccation is a concern, and infi ltration type products will likely benefi t with surface moisture issues. In reality, you may fi nd one product that achieves both of these goals, as discussed above. The question I am often asked regarding late-fall applications is how long will they persist throughout the winter. The breakdown of wetting agents in the soil is infl uenced by microbial activity, and temperature is the primary driving force for this. In the late-fall and winter when soil temperatures are low, we have found persistence well into May from mid- October applications of various chemistries in Minnesota. We are just beginning to study the impacts of soil temperature on wetting agent breakdown, but when soils are cold, persistence for six months or more is very possible. Research on wetting agent persistence and soil temperature will also help inform turfgrass managers about optimum frequencies for wetting agent applications throughout the growing season. Late fall and winter apps in the south One could argue that coming into and out of winter is the most critical time to ensure an adequate moisture status for warm season turfgrasses. Shallow root systems, coupled with slow growth and recovery make moisture management at this time of utmost importance. Could wetting agents at this time be of any benefi t? Researchers at the University of Arkansas recently investigated the impacts of wetting agents on winter survivability of bermudagrass, fi nding that a single late-fall applied wetting agent can dramatically improve spring greenup and survivability of bermudagrass in a sand-based putting green. Unfortunately, these results were not consistent from one year to the next, but no deleterious effects were ever observed from wetting agent applications at this timing. For sports fi elds, whether overseeded or not, proper selection and application of a late- fall or winter wetting agent will likely provide many benefi ts for the health and playability of your surfaces. Final considerations Wetting agents are not created equal and the most appropriate product for your situation will be based on your experience, trial and error, and data collection. By promoting a healthy turf stand through effi cient water use, it may be possible to reduce pesticide and fertility applications while continuing to maintain safe, functional and playable surfaces. This article intentionally avoided the discussion of specifi c products because there are simply too many to discuss. Initial studies focused on the impact of wetting agents on surface fi rmness and applications later into the fall and winter are very promising. Stay tuned as this work progresses and be sure to advocate for this type of research with your local land grant institution. For more information about this and other projects at the University of Minnesota, please visit our blog at /ST/ Sam Bauer is Extension Educator-Turfgrass Science, University of Minnesota Extension. WATER DROP PENETRATION TESTS ARE A STANDARD PROCEDURE FOR ASSESSING THE LEVEL OF HYDROPHOBICITY OF A TURFGRASS ROOTZONE. TO CONDUCT THIS TEST, CORES ARE AIR DRIED FOR 2 WEEKS, A DROP OF WATER IS PLACED ON THE CORE, AND THE TIME FOR PENETRATION OF THE DROPLET WILL DETERMINE THE LEVEL OF HYDROPHOBICITY.

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