End of Season Essentials: Dormant Feeding Best Practices


By: Keith Perl, President

This year has been a challenge on all fronts. Course closures due to wet conditions have occurred far too often, hurting both revenues and employee moral. It’s been a non-stop battle against diseases, and in most cases, spray intervals had to be shortened.

Turfgrass health has been significantly compromised with the endless rains all summer long. Water logged soils create a lack of oxygen in the soil, and open the door for many issues to develop. Among them is compaction, causing thin turf. Compound that with nutrients leaching through the soil due to the excess water, and, most problematic, compromised root systems, and we have a much weaker plant and soil ecosystem moving into winter.

What can you do to stack the deck in your favor?

  • Snow mold control programs will be vital this year to help protect your turf from the upcoming stresses of winter.

  • Apply a dormant feed to ensure your turf has the nutrients it needs moving into winter. This will ensure the plant will continue to produce carbohydrates to help it prepare for next year.

We’ll follow up this article with our best snow mold control tips in our next article, but you can use the following best practices to ensure your dormant feeding efforts are both efficient and effective:

First and foremost, you want to be careful not to apply this application to early. If you force growth late into the year, you risk the potential of lush top growth, which can exacerbate snow mold issues through the winter and a weaker plant moving into spring. However, a properly timed application will yield huge benefits in helping underground plant parts (roots and stolon’s) to be strong. Additionally, the grass plants will be able to produce and store valuable carbohydrates. These advantages will allow a better-equipped plant to handle the stressors of the colder months ahead and prepare your turf for a strong spring.

Timing of the application should coincide with the plant almost going dormant. A general rule of thumb is that you can apply when you are done mowing for the year. When you are putting your mowers in the shop for the winter maintenance, you should be pulling out the spreaders for one last feed. At this point, you will not (in most years) see any additional top growth. You need to keep in mind that the plant will still function and grow underground while continually making food through photosynthesis. This process continues until the ground is frozen. This is why it is a great idea to provide food late into the year.

There are many fertility choices available and chances are, that if you select a product with some slow release properties you will see benefit.

Discuss this with your rep in order to make the best choice for your location and property.