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K-State Turfgrass

Category: Cultural Practices

Fall Fertilization and Turf Tips

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Dr. Bill Kreuser, Assistant Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist, at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln posted some great information on fall turfgrass fertility and some other fall turfgrass tips.

Dr. Kreuser quoted, “Fall is arguably the most import season for turfgrass managers. While we’re busy preparing for a new growing season in spring and trying to survive stressful conditions in the summer, fall is the time to recover from summer, renovate, and prepare for winter. It’s a season of seeding, cultivation, weed control, and fertilization. While fall is still widely considered the most important time to fertilize turfgrass, the fertilization recommendations have evolved over the past decade.”

I couldn’t agree with him more.  There has been lots of recommendations evolve over the years and just because “this” is way it has always been done doesn’t mean it is right.  See what Dr. Kreuser has to say and check out the links below.

 

  1. Rethinking Fall Fertilization
  2. Mid-Fall Turf Tips 

 

Tips and tricks on planting trees before you trick-or-treat

(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)

My family did a campfire and cooked our first pot of chili in awhile – it’s really feeling like fall! We have a few weeks remaining in October, and between now and Halloween is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Here are some articles with tricks of the trade before you trick-or-treat:

Nice summary from Johnson County:

https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/lawn-garden/agent-articles/trees-shrubs/planting-trees-shrubs-in-fall.html

Excellent nuts and bolts of tree planting:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF3313.pdf

A few more details on methods:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf402.pdf

Watering new trees and shrubs:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2800.pdf

Now, with all that, truly your most important FIRST step is deciding on what to plant. If you have not yet done your research on that question, here are some more resources on tree and shrub selection.

Trees and shrubs for difficult sites:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2205.PDF

Trees for Northeast Kansas:

https://www.kansasforests.org/community_forestry/community_docs/NE%20Kansas%20Preferred%20Trees.pdf

Trees for Northwest Kansas:

https://www.kansasforests.org/community_forestry/community_docs/NW%20Preferred%20Trees122016.pdf

Trees for Southwest Kansas:

https://www.kansasforests.org/community_forestry/community_docs/Pref%20Trees%20SW.pdf

Water-wise plants for south central Kansas:

https://www.sedgwick.k-state.edu/gardening-lawn-care/documents/Water%20Wise%20Plants%202015.pdf

 

 

Fall Soil Testing

By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension

Fall is an important time for cool season turfgrass species because air and soil temperatures are optimal for carbohydrate accumulation and root growth. However, adequate plant nutrition is essential for these processes to operate at maximum efficiency. The importance of using soil test reports to guide fertilization programs cannot be emphasized enough.  The Kansas State Soil Testing Lab (https://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/services/soiltesting/) provides a variety of high quality testing services for turfgrass managers. Testing for pH, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A good sampling method is necessary to ensure the soil test results are accurately representing the sampled area. To sample, use a soil probe an extract a 4” to 6” core. The leaf and thatch material should be discarded from the core (see picture). Eight to ten individual cores should be extracted and combined into a single sample for testing. Results are typically sent back within a week of the lab receiving the sample.  Fertilizer recommendations will also be provided by a county agent or K-State horticulturalist.

Of all the possible nutrients, potassium is of particular interest as temperatures continue to decline, because it helps the plant acclimate to cold temperatures. Some soils, especially golf greens, throughout Kansas are low in potassium, leaving turfgrass more susceptible to winter injury. Deficiencies can be addressed by applying K containing fertilizers, such as, potassium chloride (KCl), potassium sulfate (K2SO4), and potassium nitrate (KNO3). Remember, soil tests are a relatively inexpensive tool, but provide a wealth of knowledge.

For more information pertaining to soil testing check out the article below by Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, Nutrient Management Specialist.

Fall Soil Testing: Sample Collection and Submission to the K-State Soil Testing Lab

By: Dorivar Ruiz Diaz

Soil testing provides producers and homeowners important information concerning the fertility status of the soil. This information can help produce better crops and reduce costs by guiding management decisions like the type and amount of fertilizers to apply. If you plan to do your own soil sampling and use the K-State Soil Testing Laboratory, the following outline provides specific information on methods for collecting soil samples and mailing instructions.

  • To take a sample, you will need a probe, auger or spade, and a clean pail. (If you’re also having the soil analyzed for zinc, be sure to use a plastic container to avoid contamination from galvanized buckets or material made of rubber.) You will also need soil sample containers and a soil information sheet from your local Extension office or fertilizer dealer. You can also order soil sample bags online from K-State Research and Extension by clicking here.

  • Draw a map of the sample area on the information sheet and divide your fields into uniform areas. Each area should have the same soil texture, color, slope, and fertilization and cropping history.
  • From each area, take a sample of 20-30 cores or slices for best results. At the very minimum, 12-15 cores should be taken per sample. Mix the cores thoroughly in a clean container and fill your soil sample container. For available nitrogen, chloride, or sulfur tests, a subsoil sample to 24 inches is necessary.
  • Avoid sampling in old fencerows, dead furrows, low spots, feeding areas, or other areas that might give unusual results. If information is desired on these unusual areas, obtain a separate sample from the area.
  • Be sure to label the soil container clearly and record the numbers on the soil container and the information sheet.
  • Air-dry the samples as soon as possible for the available nitrogen test. (Air drying before shipment is recommended, but not essential, for all other tests.) Do not use heat for drying.
  • Fill out the information sheet obtained from your Extension office, or download a sheet.
  • Take the samples to your local Research and Extension office for shipping. Samples may also be sent directly to the lab by placing them in a shipping container. Information sheets should be included with the package. Shipping labels can be printed from the Soil Testing Lab website listed below. Mail the package to:

Soil Testing Laboratory
2308 Throckmorton PSC
1712 Claflin Road
Manhattan, KS 66506-5503

A listing of the types of soil analysis offered, and the costs is available on the Soil Testing Lab web site, http://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/services/soiltesting . You can also contact the lab by email at soiltesting@ksu.edu and by phone at 785-532-7897.

For more information on the proper procedures for the Soil Testing Laboratory, see K-State publication MF-734 at: https://www.bookstore.ksre.k-state.edu/pubs/MF734.pdf. Detailed information on soil sample collection can be found in the accompanying article “The challenge of collecting a representative soil sample” in this eUpdate issue.

Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, Nutrient Management Specialist
ruizdiaz@ksu.edu

K-State turfgrass specialist urges mid-summer checkup on lawns

Many Kansas landscapes include warm-season grasses, which require a little care in order to stay healthy during the hot summer months.

Hoyle says warm-season grasses may need fertilizer to remain healthy

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State University Associate Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Dr. Jared Hoyle says homeowners ought to be thinking about a mid-summer checkup on their lawns, which likely includes applying fertilizer and weed killer.

Many Kansas summer landscapes include warm-season grasses, namely bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and buffalograss. Each of those requires a little care in order to stay healthy through the hot weeks ahead.

“Those three grasses are not all created equal and some grow faster than others, which means we need to feed them a little bit different,” said Hoyle, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources.

For bermudagrass and zoysiagrass, Hoyle suggests applying a total of 1-3 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet during a typical growing season, which is the beginning of May through the middle of August.

“You can split that up into multiple applications of a quick release fertilizer, or you could do fewer applications of a slower release,” he said. “But the main goal is 1-3 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet regardless of what number or percentage product you’re using.”

Buffalograss does not require as much nitrogen. Studies at Kansas State University indicate that “about 1 pound of nitrogen per year for 1000 square feet is good,” according to Hoyle.

“It’s hard to split up a pound over multiple applications, so that’s one where you might want to look at a slow release to put that pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet throughout the year,” he said. “You can do that right now and that will get you through the rest of the year with a slow release fertilizer.”

In addition to fertilizing warm-season grasses, Hoyle said homeowners should be looking at ways to control thatch and weeds in the lawn.

“We really like to preach that if you are going to do something with the lawn — whether it is fertilizing or watering — do it when it’s actively growing,” Hoyle said. “Right now, with warm-season grasses, if you have a thatch problem, you can tear that area up (with a verti-cutter or slicer), fertilize the lawn, and it will grow right back in. If you try to do that during the fall or spring months, there will be periods of time when the lawn isn’t growing, or delayed growth, and it could lead to more problems.”

Among weeds, crabgrass and yellow nutsedge are two of the most troublesome this time of year.

““I’m seeing a lot of crabgrass and yellow nutsedge and I blame it on the weather,” Hoyle said. “Yellow nutsedge loves flooded, compacted soils and because of periodic flooding around the state, I have seen a lot of areas that typically never have yellow nutsedge. It’s a weed to keep an eye out with the weather conditions as they have been.”

To control yellow nutsedge, look for products with the active ingredients halosulfuron or sulfrentrazone, he said.

Crabgrass that has already emerged can be treated with products that include the active ingredient quinclorac.

Hoyle noted that homeowners should be patient when applying herbicides to yellow nutsedge and crabgrass; it might take more than one application to control those weeds.

K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources publishes a weekly horticulture newsletter with updated information on lawn care and other turfgrass issues. Residents may also contact their local extension agent.

Watering Your Lawn – Resources

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

I’m going to say it because everyone else is thinking of it. As soon as we started to complain about all the rain, it stops and now its hot and dry.  So to help out here are two recently updated publications with information on watering your lawn.

Did you know that about half of the water applied to lawns is wasted? This fact sheet offers tips on turfgrass selection, soil preparation, and maintenance practices to increase watering efficiency.

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=670

Suggestions for homeowners on maintaining a healthy, attractive lawn while conserving water.

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=363&pubId=663

**** Picture looks blurry doesn’t it!  Thats because this picture was taken when the irrigation was running while it was raining outside. Make sure you take control of your irrigation otherwise it will take control of your lawn…****

In the midst of a summer with 100+ F temperatures

In 2016, Dr. Fry wrote a blog post titled “Bentgrass Declining? It’s from Western Europe – You Live in Kansas”. Last year we faced high summer temperatures and this year we are facing the same. Like many across the state and beyond, the bentgrass greens at Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center are stressed.  To address the summer stress on bentgrass greens I think that it is a good idea to revisit this topic.

Below is Dr. Fry’s article. Enjoy!

In the midst of a summer with 100+ F temperatures, it’s worthwhile to consider some of creeping bentgrass’s preferences and management strategies that might be helpful to reduce its stress, and yours.  See, the thing about creeping bentgrass on putting greens is….

  • It came from Western Europe. You live in Kansas.
Average July maximum temperature (°F) Average July minimum temperature (°F)
London, England 72 55
Manhattan, Kansas 90 68

 

  • Its roots die first, then its leaves. Keep the roots happy and you’ll have happy bentgrass and happy golfers.
  • Its roots prefer to grow at 55 to 65 °F; root growth slows even as low as 80 °F. This summer, temperatures near the surface of greens have been over 100 °F.
  • Faults with construction, drainage, management practices may produce a quality turf surface for 10 or 11 months of the year. It’s the one or two other months that cause problems.   If you want to avoid bentgrass decline, then start with a good rootzone.
  • Rootzones that hold water are warmer and also have less oxygen for root growth. If you don’t have an ideal rootzone, work to improve it in the fall and spring with aggressive core aerification and topdressing.
  • The benefits of coring are often seen during summer stress. Why are there green polka dots within the brown turf?  Turf in those spots has roots!

  • Opening the green’s surface with small, solid tines or spikes can help with water infiltration and root growth during midsummer. Don’t overdo it – the turf is under stress.
  • Although superintendents suspect (and often hope) that a disease is causing the problem in mid-summer, over half of the samples that are evaluated in our lab show no disease.
  • In our climate, air movement across the surface of the green is critical for bentgrass health. If your greens are surrounded, let them free!
  • Maximize summer airflow from the south, but also vent to the north (just like opening two windows to get cross flow in your house).
  • Hand watering can be used to address deficiencies in water distribution of the irrigation system, target localized dry spots, and deal with inconsistencies in water retention and drainage in the root zone. It shouldn’t be overdone or underdone- train and use your best help for handwatering.
  • Syringing refers to applying a light mist of water droplets to leaves only, and then relying upon evaporation of that water to help cool the leaf surface. How effective do you think that is on a humid, July day?  Not very, unless you use a fan to encourage evaporation from the leaf!
  • Trees use light for photosynthesis, so does bentgrass. If trees are shading the green, which is getting the light – the tree, or the turf?
  • Cultivars that are more dense get less Poa invasion, and Poa is more likely to die during summer stress than bentgrass. Plant newer, denser cultivars to reduce Poa.( The photo shows Poa checking out in the heat.)

  • Light applications of nitrogen can be beneficial during heat stress (0.10 lb. N/1,000 sq. ft.)
  • Newer cultivars have been shown to be more heat tolerant than Penncross, but even these will experience decline during prolonged heat.
  • Clean up laps are often the first to show symptoms of stress. Why?  Excessive traffic and wear.  Have you considered a dedicated mower with a slightly higher mowing height for the clean up lap?  Do you skip clean up laps on some days?

Rethinking Zoysiagrass for Home Lawns

Kansas State University teamed with Texas A&M to develop a new cultivar of zoysiagrass called Innovation, that’s suitable for lawns and golf courses. Pictured is Ted Wilbur (left), owner of Sod Shop in Wichita, Kansas and Jack Fry, horticulture professor at Kansas State University. Wilbur was the first to grow Innovation commercially in Kansas.

K-State, Texas A&M develop new cold-hardy variety for home landscapes and golf courses

OLATHE, Kan. – Who doesn’t love the look and feel of a soft, green carpet of grass underfoot? Even better if it’s resistant to pests and requires less fertilizer than other grasses. A Kansas State University professor believes that zoysiagrass can fit the bill for home landscapes – even in Kansas and surrounding states.

Zoysiagrass is well known as a warm-season grass commonly grown across southern tier states for its dense, weed-resistant and slow-growing nature (think less mowing), plus it requires about half the water needed for cool-season grasses typically grown in the nation’s midsection.

Those who choose to grow zoysia should be aware, however, that as a warm-season grass, it goes dormant and turns brown in mid-October and may not green up again until late April.

“The determining factor for whether any warm-season grass that can be used here is winter survival,” said Kansas State University horticulture professor Jack Fry.

Kansas and other states across the middle of the country are in what’s called a transition zone, where both warm- and cool-season grasses can grow but weather extremes can prove challenging and sometimes injure or kill the grass. In order to improve on a longtime favorite zoysia called Meyer, Fry and his K-State colleagues teamed with Texas A&M Agrilife researchers to develop a new zoysia cultivar.

Their aim was to develop a cultivar that is as cold-tolerant as Meyer for areas in the transition zone, but also to offer improved characteristics, such as finer leaf blades and even better density which blocks out weeds.

The K-State team worked with Ambika Chandra, associate professor at Texas A&M, to develop a new hybrid that was ultimately named Innovation. The new hybrid can withstand the cold that can sometimes blanket the central U.S. as well as Meyer does, but also exhibits better quality, meaning it has a darker green color, finer leaf blades, better density and good uniformity.

Zoysiagrass is already widely used on golf course tees and fairways in Kansas and across the transition zone, but less so on home lawns, Fry said. When drought water restrictions come about, however, it’s a good choice for home lawns.

Zoysia, and especially newer cultivars like Innovation, also require less fertilizer or pest treatments to stay healthy than typical cool-season grasses such as tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass.

To develop the new cultivar, the researchers used traditional plant breeding, crossing cold-hardy types with other southern-adapted types that offered high density and finer-textured leaf blades.

That density results in almost no herbicides being needed during the growing season, Fry said.

To get from initial crosses – about 1,500 in all – to the final product took about 13 years, Fry said. Along the way from those initial crosses, 35 looked promising, so were planted in 5-foot by 5-foot plots in Kansas and Texas and evaluated by the researchers, who then narrowed the list to seven.

Those top seven hybrids were tested at additional sites across the transition zone in Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The result is Innovation, which was released for commercial growth and sales in 2015. It is currently available via licensed distributors through a company called Sod Solutions, which has sub-licensed production to 15 sod producers in eight states.

What’s next? A new phase of the K-State-Texas A&M research is under way which aims to identify grasses that have superior resistance to a disease called Large Patch, and there may even be types that are promising for use on golf greens, too, Fry said.

Post featured by: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/stories/2019/05/zoysia-for-home-lawns.html

——-

More information about zoysiagrass is available at

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf683.pdf

or in a Clemson University fact sheet, https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/zoysiagrass/

Warm-season Turfgrass Lawn Care Reminders

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Now that the summer weather is finally here it is time to start thinking about maintenance on warm-season turfgrass.  Below are some monthly reminders for everyone that has warm-season turf.


Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass

May – August 15
Fertilize with 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application. Follow the recommendations on the bag. More applications will give a deeper green color, but will increase mowing and may lead to thatch buildup with zoysiagrass. Bermudagrass can also have problems with thatch buildup but thatch is less likely with Bermuda than zoysia. Bermudagrass – Use two to four applications. Zoysiagrass – Use one to two applications. Too much nitrogen leads to thatch buildup.

One Application: Apply in June.
Two Applications: Apply May and July.
Three Applications: Apply May, June, and early August.
Four Applications: Apply May, June, July, and early August.

Remember to look and see if you are using a quick release nitrogen source or a slow release nitrogen source.  If you use a quick release source then it is immediately available but only lasts a couple weeks.  Thats why you would have to make a couple of applications like it is listed above.  If you are going to use a slow release source it will tell you on the bag how long the product will last.  Therefore, you might not have to make as many applications.

So generally you want to use a total of 2 to 4lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year for bermudagrass and 1 to 2 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year for zoysiagrass.

June
If grubs have been a problem in the past, apply a product containing imidacloprid by mid July. Imidacloprid can be applied as early as mid May if there are problems with billbugs or May beetle grubs. These products kill the grubs before they cause damage. They are effective and safe but must be watered in before they become active. June is a good time to core aerate a warm-season lawn. Core aeration will help alleviate compaction, increase the rate of water infiltration, improve soil air exchange and help control thatch.

Late-July through August
If you see grub damage, apply a grub killer. If Imidacloprid has been applied, this should not be necessary. Grub killers must be watered in immediately.

For more information check out the Zoyisagrass Lawns Publication at the KSRE Bookstore – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=1451

For more information check out the Bermudagrass Lawns Publication at the KSRE Bookstore – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=586


Buffalograss

June

Fertilize with 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet during June. More applications will give a deeper green color, but can encourage weeds. If it is felt that a second application is needed, apply in July.

If grubs have been a problem in the past, apply a product containing imidacloprid by mid July. Imidacloprid can be applied as early as mid May if there are problems with billbugs or May beetle grubs. These products kill the grubs before they cause damage. They are effective and safe but must be watered in before they become active. Again, I would only treat if grubs have been a problem in the past. Note that the whole area may not need to be treated. The beetles that lay the eggs for the grubs are attracted to lights and moist soil and those areas are most likely to be infested.

Late-July through August

If you see grub damage, apply a grub killer. If imidacloprid has been applied or if grubs have not been a problem in the past, this should not be necessary. Grub killers must be watered in immediately.

For more information check out the Buffalograss Lawns Publication at the KSRE Bookstore – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=1447


Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

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Bentgrass Putting Green Fertility – Helping or hurting silvery-thread moss?

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

At Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center in Manhattan, KS we have two bentgrass putting greens.  On one of them we “try” to maintain as a common putting green with typical disease, weed and fertility programs.  On the other one we don’t apply any fungicides at all to see what disease we can grow.  On that same putting green we are growing a nice crop of silvery-thread moss as we aren’t doing anything to help suppress or control it.

When I came on board here at KSU in 2013, the KSU Turfgrass Faculty and graduate students were really diving into figuring out programs to help control or suppress silvery-thread moss in bentgrass putting greens.  Quick to find out, controlling moss is not just an application but a program and part of that program is fertility.

I quickly went through some of the past research reports on the KSU Turfgrass Website (https://www.k-state.edu/turf/research/index.html) and came across a short report on the influence of nitrogen source and spray volume on the establishment of silvery-thread moss.  Establishment! Establishment!  Why are we studying the establishment?  Well, knowing what helps establishment also tells you what is going to promote growth of silvery-thread moss.

As Drs. Raudenbush and Keeley explain in the research report, “the practice of spraying small quantities of soluble nitrogen at a relatively high frequency my promote silvery-thread moss growth because the moss lacks a vascular system of removing water and nutrients from the soil.”  Apply small quantities of soluble nitrogen at relative high frequencies is a common practice for managing bentgrass putting greens, so we maybe making the problem worse.

To summarize the project that was conducted in the greenhouse, spraying soluble nitrogen increased moss cover compared with the untreated control and ammonium sulfate has the highest moss cover at all the ratings dates.  Comparing ammonium sulfate to urea, ammonium sulfate caused more than a threefold increase in moss dry weight (At 7 weeks after the initial treatment the moss was harvested, dried and weighed.) and there was no difference between urea and the water only control.

There are many other factors to consider when looking at suppressing or controlling silvery-thread moss including but not limited to; watering, herbicide applications, topdressing and promoting healthy bentgrass. But remember fertility, as it does play a roll in silvery-thread moss management.

For the full report check out Page 12 of the 2014 Kansas State University Turfgrass Research Report – https://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2097/20427/Turfgrass2014.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y