Summertime Blues

Well, it’s official…summertime is here.  Temperatures are up, humidity continues to climb, and the turf is now relying on its roots for stored up nutrients as it constantly struggles against the unfriendly environmental conditions to stay healthy.  As most homeowner’s yards turn brown and go dormant, golf courses remain green and healthy in a glowing display of why it’s so important to hire trained agronomic professionals to manage the most valuable asset that the facility has.  This is the superintendent’s time to shine and prove your value.

This is also the time that many superintendents switch gears from granular fertility to liquid fertility.  Since the roots are far less efficient in taking up applied nutrients, liquid fertilizers start to play a far more significant role in keeping the course properly maintained.

Theoretically, plants can’t tell the difference between nutrients supplied by either granular or liquid fertilizers.  However, their ability to take up the nutrients radically change throughout the growing season.  For the next few months, liquid fertilizers allow the nutrients to be delivered through the leaf blade and other parts of the plant, easing the workload of the roots.

Liquid fertilizers are widely popular for golf courses due to their flexibility.  They can be applied to the ground or targeted for foliar application.  In both cases, the turf absorbed the nutrients are more readily available in a shorter amount of time.  This quick response allows superintendents to rapidly correct any deficiency issues identified and gain a higher level of control of the turf’s growth.  This control equates to better playing conditions during this stressful growing time.

Liquid fertilizer also provides the benefit of utilizing nutrients in increased forms of mobility since they are delivered in a water solution.  The nutrients do not have to be naturally solubilized in the soil, which adds to the quick turf response time following its application.  Another benefit of the nutrients being delivered in a water solution is that it has a higher consistency level than raw granular forms.

Another significant advantage of liquid fertilizer is that it can often be applied at the same time as other plant protectants that are needed to maintain the quality expected by the membership.  It can be a little tricky with what’s compatible and what’s not, but when you find a “witch’s brew” that works, it’s an enormous time and labor savings.

When the weather finally breaks, returning to granular fertilizer will help the turf get ready for the next stage by growing its roots and storing up more nutrients.  Until then, however, fire up the sprayer and keep that much needed control of the turf.