Fall in New England is known for its beautifully forested landscape changing colors from deep greens to reds, yellows, and browns. It’s also 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 products are essential to boost turf health and performance year in and year out.
The Importance of Fall Fertilizer
Fall fertilizer applications promote root development, enhance storage of energy reserves, and extend the green color retention later into the season. As a result, you will see an earlier spring green up and improved turf density.(1) Root growth and storage is critical to early spring green up as the turf grass is operating from reserve carbohydrates. As a result, consistent shoot growth occurs while temperatures warm in late March and April. Spring fertilizer applications almost exclusively impact shoot growth. On the other hand, we believe you need to balance both root and shoot growth to build a more robust turf stand. Therefore, balance your turf health with fall fertilization.
The Impact of Potassium on Turf
Turf grass uses potassium to activate enzymes in protein, sugar, and starch synthesis. In addition, potassium improves 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.
Soil Amendment Applications for Turf
This year, PJC Organic has added a new tool to the product arsenal with Boost+S3. After years of evaluating soil tests, we sought to create a product that made a BIG impact in early spring and late fall applications. Boost+S3 contains gypsum, humates and chelated iron. The gypsum benefits soil structure by adding beneficial calcium to the soil which will create better pore space for the turf roots to grow. The humates improve nutrient availability or “cation exchange capacity” in the soil. Lastly, the chelated iron is used to improve photosynthesis in the turf plant. The major benefit of chelated iron (an essential nutrient) is it improves turf vigor without adding top growth – which is what makes it ideal for a fall application. Chelated iron has long been used to ‘hardening off’ turf before winter and we thought it was an essential ingredient to combat the harsh New England winters.
And lastly – it’s time to lime! Correcting soil pH is foundational in an organic program. Our high efficiency limestone works fast and efficiently to change soil chemistry, which in turn allows soil biology to proliferate. Soil with a pH of 6.5-6.8 encourages root development and increased microbial activity. This contributes to the bioavailability of beneficial nutrients grass needs to grow. PJC Organic’s soil testing services help you determine how much lime you need annually to balance soil chemistry. This inexpensive service could be the make-or-break aspect of your organic turf care program.
Do not miss this opportunity to apply Fall products to boost turf fertility. These product applications will give your turf grass the essential nutrients it needs for this fall and next spring’s performance.
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. In addition, these fertilizers contain plant-available potassium to give your turf the balanced nutrition it needs. This combo allows your turf to perform throughout the fall and absorb energy stores for a resilient winter.
Boost+S3 is designed to be applied any time after your last fertilizer application. Its high mineral composition isn’t dependent on soil biological activity which makes it perfect for Mid-October through November applications. Boost+S3 is key to improving soil conditions while also giving the turf the resilience to protect itself against winter desiccation.
HiCal Lime with 2% Humic Acid raises soil pH and Ca base saturation, supplies essential Calcium and carbon to the soil, AND increases soil CEC to improve nutrient holding capacity. Our enhanced lime works faster and more efficiently than traditional lime and you use ¼ the amount saving you time and money.
…for the next generation.
Building healthy turf and soil takes time and consistency. Fall fertilizer and soil conditioner applications are critical to turf health through winter and impacts early spring turf performance the following year. By having more balanced 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 a purpose that pays dividends over time.
(1) Purdue https://turf.purdue.edu/fall-fertilization/