Foundation Forty: How to Beat the Big Turf Catch-22

close-up of golf course

During my travels as a Foliar-Pak representative over the last 13 years, many conversations, especially lately, gravitated toward limiting top growth without compromising the overall vitality of the turf grass stand. The traditional school of thought has always been that health, color, and density will suffer with too little top growth. On the flip side, if there is too much top growth, plant succulence, slow greens, and increased mowing frequency/grass clippings become liabilities. Going too far in either direction manifests in poor turf quality and a lesser experience for those that use the surfaces. You’re damned if you do; you’re damned if you don’t. In short, nitrogen management is crucial when walking this tightrope between producing too much top growth versus not enough.

The ideal nitrogen source would release the exact amount of nitrogen required by the plant, exactly when it needs it. That would be fantastic if it existed, wouldn’t it? Without such a product, we become mired in the mental gymnastics of trying to predict how much N is available in the soil. Then, how much of that N will the plant likely take up and marry that notion with how much N we think the plant will need. With these nebulous calculations in mind, we decide how much N should be applied in the weekly or bi-weekly liquid fertilizer application. As you can see, many variables are out of our control.

It’s a big guessing game that often leads to overapplying N and forcing too much top growth. There is little doubt that dialing in the correct nitrogen rate is crucial, but at times it is impossible to do without threatening the long-term health of your turf stand or negatively affecting playability. The Big Turf Catch 22. With the production of excess leaf growth comes slower greenspeeds, more mowing, etc. However, regarding plant health, the real downside is the excess burning of carbohydrates, which reduces the plant’s energy reserves. Overapplying nitrogen is akin to feeding your 5-year-old Twizzlers and root beer for lunch. It will stoke a lot of activity in the child, but it’s the kind of activity that is destructive and short-lived, with no benefits for long-term survival. In turf management, there is no disputing this either. Researchers many years ago documented the negative impact of higher nitrogen fertilizer in reducing carbohydrate levels.

This brings me to my Foundation Forty discussion. When applied to turf foliage, Foundation Forty’s amino acids are quickly absorbed, metabolized, and used in several physiological processes that help the plant build and conserve carbohydrates. Plants receive the direct benefits of increased photosynthesis, greater production of proteins, and more efficient carbon dioxide assimilation. Foundation Forty accomplishes these tasks in a very direct way so you can reduce some of your inorganic nitrogen inputs! Just what the plant needs. Foundation Forty results in a tougher turf stand, more controlled growth, and more significant carbohydrate reserves. Great news for intensely maintained turf grass of any type! You can beat that Catch-22.

Regarding carbohydrates, we should not neglect the role of biotic and abiotic stressors in draining energy reserves. I should bring into focus that our research shows Foundation Forty amino acids are absorbed and quickly used to upload crucial anti-stress compounds. These molecules protect the plant from drought, heat, salt, traffic, and other stresses. These anti-stress compounds do their job in limiting the cellular decline from harsh conditions. When turf stands weaken and thin out due to stress, playability and aesthetics are compromised. With livelihood at stake, the superintendent must take measures to push recovery, aka apply more inorganic nitrogen with the intent to hasten top growth. Again, doing what we don’t want to do: drain carbohydrate reserves. Consistent use of Foundation Forty protects plants from harsh stresses so your turf won’t weaken. Avoiding the need for recovery applications of N has a net positive effect on carbohydrate reserves.

If you want to raise the stakes regarding anti-stress compounds, add CSi L to your tank mix. The combination of CSi L and Foundation Forty has been outstanding for improving turf health, density and toughness. I’ll plug one other product since I’m at it. Foliar Pak Play-On is our way of simplifying your approach to building a foliar nutritional program. The amino acid composition of Play-On is another low nitrogen option with amino acids that builds energy, protects the plant from stress, and helps you reduce inorganic nitrogen inputs.

Foliar-Pak products continue to give your turf what it needs to beat the Big Turf Catch-22.

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About the Author Curt Geron

I am a Foliar-Pak territory manager and the lead for Foliar-Pak product development. I’ve been with EnP Investments, the manufacturer of Foliar-Pak, for almost nine years. In addition to my responsibilities at EnP, I’ve worked as golf course superintendent and owner/operator of a lawn care company. With B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from The Ohio State University, I developed a passion for plant science and fertility. If you would like to learn more about the science behind our products or discuss practical applications for using our products to improve turfgrass and plant health, let’s connect.

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