I regularly field questions about what we are really trying to accomplish with late winter/early spring liquid fertility applications. What does the plant need that time of the year, and can we impact its overall health? I will offer up that I am not very interested in flushing growth on the grass with inorganic nitrogen. What does interest me are inputs that impact plant energy and plant stress tolerance. You often hear it’s time to “wake the turf up,” referring to greens in the winter/early spring stages, but there are differing views on how to do that, and I hope we can offer some insight as to what works for us and why.
Here is my short answer…anytime the plant is functioning, you can impact health! But how we choose to do that makes all the difference. First, let me also say that managing moisture is a must! Without proper moisture management, nothing you will do will make much of an impact. With that being said, our first mission is to help the plant build and store carbohydrates. Preparing the plant for the upcoming year and helping it through early stressful times. Carbohydrate reserves, particularly in ultradwarf greens, are at their absolute lowest in early spring, so any way we can positively impact that is helpful. This is the time of year that greens are also most susceptible to foot traffic and ball marks. To further make things difficult, we suffer through severe swings in precipitation, temperatures, and sunlight.
The goal is to pave the way for a smooth transition of greens surfaces that are at their most susceptible point of the year to greens that become the workhorses you need them to be during summer. I like to see applications of Foliar-Pak product as early as possible in spring to capture the most benefits. Foundation 40 and Amperage help aid in C02 assimilation, chlorophyll production, and nitrogen fixation. These processes are basic to building carbohydrate reserves. While CSi L and Gold Standard work to strengthen cell walls and combat cool-season traffic pressures. As well as build a more rigid and tougher plant early.
Here are four great tools to help you prepare for your season:
- Foundation 40 supplies specific amino acids that work to increase carbohydrate production, conserve carbohydrates, and load up important structures that help the plant handle stress. We actually see a green-up from Foundation Forty even at low use rates.
- Amperage is a great tool for maintaining base levels of primary minerals required for complete photosynthesis, particularly during cool stretches. Sugars from molasses help to energize the plant with a steady source of simple carbohydrates. This is particularly impactful during low sunlight. I love the color we see from Amperage during cool, cloudy stretches.
- CSi-L is a concentrated liquid silicon product. This silicon structure has a very low molecular weight and size, allowing it to move into the foliage where the plant needs Si the most. Silicon is used by the plant to strengthen cuticles. I have seen great benefits of CSi L when it comes to traffic stress and reducing ball marks.
- Gold Standard 45 is a 45% phosphite product completely complexed with amino acids. This very low salt and high amino acid product has wonderful solubility. This helps the phosphite move into the plant more easily. The amino acids used in Gold Standard 45 are quickly metabolized and converted into valuable defense structures. In a nutshell, they work in unison with phosphites to enhance the SAR response in plants. This is not your typical phosphite you’ve been used to using!
While I am no way saying these are the only ways to achieve a smooth transition into the spring season, I am saying that these tools have worked very well for us. Through the rest of the winter and moving into early spring focus on water management, carbohydrate storage, CO2 assimilation, as well as aiding photosynthesis and chlorophyll production. These are the vital areas to focus on and there are wonderful product options from Foliar-Pak that will help ensure you have as smooth a transition as possible as you prepare your plant for aerification or the stresses of the season.