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Spring Fertility for your Turfgrass Crop

Spring fertility is a critical part of successful turfgrass seed production. When the snow begins to melt, it’s important to be ready to execute your fertility plan. Seed Production Specialist Cord Ferguson has a few tips on spring fertility for those who aren’t quite sure where to start.

Fields will come out of dormancy early in spring, soon after the snow is off the field and temperatures are consistently above freezing. Once they break that dormancy, they’ll need fertilizer.

“Plants need fertilizer once they break dormancy to help stimulate healthy growth,” said Ferguson.

Turfgrasses are high nitrogen users, and ensuring your field has the fertility it needs when it comes out of dormancy is important to maximize its yield potential. A typical turfgrass crop requires 130 lb of nitrogen, 30 lb of phosphorus, 25 lb of potassium, and 5 lb of sulphur. Phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur are typically banded with the companion crop at establishment, with nitrogen being applied after the cover crop is harvested in the fall or the following spring.  

It can be a challenge to get on wet fields early in spring, so we generally like to see 50 to 100% of the crop’s nitrogen requirements applied in the fall to prevent any nutrient deficiency.

“When fall application isn’t possible due to field conditions or workload, it’s important to be ready with an early spring application plan,” said Ferguson.

When applying nitrogen in the spring, growers should have their Seed Production Specialist assess for winter damage and make sure it’s a viable stand first. If you’re applying 100% of the needed nitrogen in spring, growers should plan for an early May application. If you fall applied 50% of your nitrogen, Ferguson recommends apply the remaining 50% by the end of May.

Most producers will either broadcast granular urea onto their fields with a nitrogen stabilizer or apply liquid UAN fertilizer with a sprayer. UAN will be available to the crop quicker than urea but it generally comes down to how your farm is set up and which equipment you have available for the fertilizer application. Controlled-release nitrogen products like ESN and Super U can be an option for fall applications but are not a good fit in spring when the crop needs the nitrogen available. 

For more information on fertility for your turfgrass seed production, contact your Seed Production Specialist. 

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