The harsh conditions of winter can be devastating, but certain nutrient applications can play a key role in preparing the sward for the season ahead.
Winter turf survival is a concern for all turf managers. The autumn and winter months usher in shorter days and cooler temperatures, increasing some disease pressures while golfers continue to play. Long gone are the days when play stopped in November only to start again in April. Turf managers are now expected to produce optimal playing surfaces all year round, even as growing conditions deteriorate.
Wear and tear, increased disease pressures and other abiotic factors continue to attack turf swards well into the winter months. Turf managers cannot control the wild environmental shifts of winter but many take steps to help increase turf health and prepare the sward for what Mother Nature throws their way.
Avoiding applications that produce soft, succulent and lush growth is critical at this time of year. Taking steps to help ‘harden’ the turf – increasing its ability to withstand the challenges of winter is paramount.
Certain nutrient applications and their availability to the plant can play a key role in preparing the sward for the harsh conditions of winter. These nutrients are outlined below.
Available calcium (a macronutrient) can play a key role in helping to harden the plant for winter. Calcium plays a critical role in a number of turfgrass plant functions and ranks third after nitrogen and potassium in overall importance to turfgrass health.
Calcium is involved in strengthening cell walls. The content of calcium in cell walls is important, as cell walls are usually one of the first areas attacked by pests. Calcium also plays an important part in the uptake of potassium and magnesium. In addition, strong root development has been linked to the availability of calcium.
Magnesium also plays a vital role in photosynthesis, as it is the central atom of the chlorophyll molecule.
Potassium has a strong influence on cold hardiness, disease resistance and drought tolerance. Potassium activates plant enzymes used in protein, sugar and starch production. It is important to note that potassium sources differ with some being more readily available than others. For example, potassium acetate has shown to be about five times more available than traditional sources of potassium and carries a lower salt index.
Iron is an essential element that plants need to make chlorophyll. It plays a role in chlorophyll synthesis, photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism and numerous enzymatic reactions.
The Tough Turf package
Aquatrols’ Tough Turf package is aimed at turf health, not top growth and consists of Ferrosol, Calcium Plus and Premium K. The recommended rate of application is 10 litres per hectare, per month of each product. The three products are tank mixed with applications usually beginning when the temperatures drop; so now is the perfect time to implement the Tough Turf package to your winter programme. The recommended rate of water is 500 liters per hectare. The combination package provides calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and a limited amount of nitrogen.