Caliber Cote - How One Product Changed Turf Fertility in Colorado
By David Cromley
David Cromley is a sales rep and branch manager for Helena Chemical Company in Denver, CO. David has worked in the Green Industry since 1984 and has served on the board of directors for several industry associations including the RMRTA, CALCP, CSTMA and the Colorado State University IPM Advisory Board.
In the spring of 1997 our Helena rep, Gary Schmunk, approached us about (of all things), a once-per-year granular turf fertilizer. I did what any old hose jockey would do, I told him he was crazy. In Colorado we were using more CoRoN liquid than anyone west of the Mississippi and he wanted us to think about one dry app. The business model didn’t make sense, how could we justify getting paid for four apps when we just did one? We finally agreed to give it a try; we chose a ½ mile strip of turf in a Ft. Collins HOA that was a pain to drag a hose on. A March day was chosen. The pallet arrived and somehow Schmunk showed up 10 minutes after I finished the 4.6 acre spread.
Being high-exposure, everyone kept a close eye on the site through the season; the maintenance crews, the hosers, the tree guys and management. We were sure we would see the color drop and have to hit with CoRoN. By the end of September, the color was still A+ and what Schmunk had said about fewer clippings was amazing, the maintenance crews loved it. HOA contract time came around and the HOA wanted the whole property done next year.
Caliber Cote has been a Colorado “go to” product ever since; I went to work for Helena soon after that and many turf managers continue to take advantage of the most sustainable N source on the market. Think about it, fuel and labor is still our biggest expense (one app) and the agronomic benefits are off the chart. Half the total amount of “N” applied in one application for the year, a stronger root system that uses less H2O and fewer clippings, easier to "grasscycle" (not bagging the clippings to recycle the nutrients they contain) and healthier turf with less need for pesticides and other inputs. Caliber Cote is still the best fertilizer for lawns batteling chronic necrotic ring spot.
After twelve years the “wannabees” showed up and talked some folks into cheaper look-a-likes but no other blend was designed specifically for the Colorado Front Range and lasted a full season. Available in no iron, iron and pre M blends, a GH/Nursery blend and an organic acid blend with Helena’s Hydra-Hume. The LCO’s still like to make 6-7 applications per year but what if you could get the nutrition out of the way with one app and then focus on other needs of the customer? Parks, school districts, sports turf and commercial sites have all figured it out; way to go Schmunk!
Caliber Cote is manufactured by Helena Chemical Company. Availability of blends will vary by state and location. To find out more about Caliber Cote and other Helena fertilizer products click here to find the location closest to you.