Aerification: Restoring Turfgrass Carbohydrate Reserves

Dr. Clint Waltz, Extension Turfgrass Specialist with the University of Georgia, reports that hot temperatures and low rainfall in the fall of 2016 likely sent warm-season turfgrasses into winter dormancy with depleted carbohydrate reserves. During “normal” circumstances warm-season turfgrasses accumulate and store carbohydrates from late summer through early fall.  Last year, non-irrigated turfgrasses likely suffered drought-induced dormancy and transitioned to winter a weakened condition.  With insufficient energy accumulated in root systems, a thin canopy and a two- to four-week delay in the green-up of warm-season grasses might be common this spring.

What can be done to improve the green-up and growth of warm-season turfgrasses this spring?

1) AERIFICATION – Core aerification in late April to mid-May.  This will improve air exchange and water infiltration to stimulate root and shoot growth.  Performing hollow-tine aerification that removes 1/2 inch diameter soil cores to a 3 or 4 inch depth is the recommended approach.

2) TIMING OF FERTILIZER – Withhold the application of nitrogen fertilizer until soil temperatures at the 4-inch depth are consistently 65 degrees and rising.  Visit www.Georgiaturf.com to find lawn calendars that include fertility recommendations for each species.  Soil temperature data from the Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring System can be found at www.Georgiaweather.net.

3) SOIL TESTING – Collect a soil sample and submit for testing to ensure that soil Ph, phosphorous, and potassium levels are within the recommended ranges for optimum growth.  Contact your local UGA Extension Agent about submitting a soils sample to the UGA Agriculture and Environmental Services Laboratory or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Restoring carbohydrate reserves this spring is an important step in preparing turfgrasses for a healthy growing season.  Read the full article by Dr. Clint Waltz at www.Georgiaturf.com.

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