Fall Fertility
Sean Breckin, AOLCP

Fall in New England is widely known for its beautifully forested landscape changing colors from deep greens to oranges, reds, yellows, and browns. It’s also perhaps the best time of the year for cool-season turf grasses to serve as contrast to the stunning fall landscape. Whether you are using organic turf grass for your favorite sport or as a gathering space with your family – fall fertility is essential to turf performance year in and year out.

Practical Approach

Fall fertilizer applications promote root development, enhance storage of energy reserves, and extends the green color retention later into the season. As a result, you will see an earlier spring green up and improved turf density.(1) Fall root growth and storage is critical to early spring green up as the turf grass is operating from reserve carbohydrates. These reserves allow for consistent shoot growth while temperatures warm up in late March and April. Spring fertilizer applications almost exclusively impact shoot growth, while root growth mostly occurs with fall fertilizer applications. We believe building a robust turf stand requires balanced root and shoot growth.

Turf grass uses potassium to activate enzymes in protein, sugar, and starch synthesis. Perhaps its most important role is in drought tolerance, wear resistance, and cold hardiness. Researchers suggest that late summer and fall applications with higher rates of potassium are most impactful on turf stands. (2)  

In PJC Organic Turf Care programs, we target 3-4lbs of applied nitrogen per year – with approximately 1lb being a result of returned grass clippings. Depending on your current program, we either recommend a late summer and a fall fertilization or just a fall fertilization. Do not miss this opportunity to give your turf grass the essential nutrients it needs for this fall’s and next spring’s performance.

Proven Products

Our PJC ProHealthy Turf lineup features two products ideal for fall applications. The OMRI listed 6-0-6 and 8-0-6 provide a slow-release nitrogen feed for 6-10 weeks and plant available potassium to give your turf the balanced nutrition it needs to perform throughout the fall and energy stores it needs for a resilient winter. 

…for the next generation

Building healthy turf and soil takes time and consistency. Fall fertilizer applications are critical to turf health through winter and impacts early spring of the following year. By having more balance root and shoot growth in the spring – you are lessening your chance of disease and weed pressure going into the summer. Every step in an organic turf care program has purpose that pays dividends over time.




2. Penn State