Spotlight: West Virginia Power Field Renovation Project

  West Virginia Power Field diamond & outfield; taken March 17, 2015, one week after snow blankets were removed.

By: Nick Gialloreto, Territory Manager

In October 2014, Chris Mason started a new position as the Head Groundskeeper for the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team.  As his first order of business, Chris was charged with overseeing a complete renovation of the playing field.  The project included stripping out all of the turf areas, rebuilding the pitcher’s mound, and adding new infield dirt and warning track material.  As a minor league team, the Power were stretching their purse strings to make this project happen.  They made it very clear that the field install could not fail under any circumstances.

With the project set to start in mid-October, Chris contacted his Walker Supply Territory Manager, Nick Gialoretto to help develop a program to ensure the new sod would establish and look great come spring.

Due to poor weather and a slow start to the project, the sod wasn’t installed until November 8th, 2014.  This left Chris with very little time to get the plants established, so Chris and Nick worked together developing a plan that would ensure the project’s success. They decided that fertility, fungicides, and growth blankets were going to be needed in order for games to be played March 20th, 2015.

APEX-10, an organic peat humic substance, was selected to directly treat the root zone, and sprayed on the soil prior to sod installation at a double-rate of 2 gallons per acre.  As the root zone was predominantly sand, APEX-10 added carbon and organic acids to the soil.  The sod was then laid over a 4-day period from Nov. 8th – 11th.  On Nov. 12th, Earthworks 5-4-5 was used as a starter fertilizer to also help build the soil microbiology in the sand-based root zone.  The combination of carbon and hard and soft rock phosphate was what Chris was looking for to help build the soil ecosystem.

Chris allowed the field to sit a few days and then made the first of 2 snow mold applications.  Chris chose to go with 2 applications for a few reasons. First, the second app acted as a security blanket. Chris wanted to make sure snow mold damage would not be an issue come spring since growth blankets would be on all winter long.  Secondly, he inherited a lot of chemicals from previous management.  Unsure of how long it had been sitting on the shelf, it was a great opportunity to use up the inventory.  Finally, he would be using CivitasOne for both snow mold prevention and to help with spring green up. Therefore, Chris wanted to fit in at least two applications before winter.

Nervous if the roots would take, the field installer recommended an application of 17-17-17 fertilizer after the second snow mold application, and by Nov. 25th the field was ready for growth blankets.  On Nov. 25th, the blankets went down over the entire field with plans to keep them on until the weather broke in 2015. 

The blankets came off on March 9th, 2015, and the field looked great.  Roots on the new sod were pushing about 6 inches and the color of the leaf tissue was excellent.  The field looked a little spotty in areas where growth blankets blew off during the Christmas holiday, but even those areas had great color and rooting.

 
  Turf root structure, taken March 10, 2015 just after removal of blankets.

Above: West Virginia Power Field diamond & outfield; taken March 17, 2015, one week after snow blankets were removed.

Left: Turf root structure, taken March 10, 2015 just after removal of blankets.