Color vs Growth in the Transition Zone
By Rick Blasi
Rick Blasi joined Helena Chemical company in 2001 as a Territory Manager for KS and MO. He was promoted to National Account Manager with Helena in 2006 and promoted again to Helena Product Manager in 2009, his current position. Rick has a B.S. in Agribusiness from Kansas State University. After graduation he worked for a Fertilizer Retail Facility as a Crop Advisor and Applicator for 3 years. He got involved in distribution to the golf industry in 1997. Rick has been involved in the golf industry for 19+ years and has loved every minute of it. Rick enjoys the outdoors which include Golf and Hunting.
Can you have color without growth? How about growth without color? It’s a battle every year for turf care professionals. It’s an even bigger battle for contracts that include mowing and chemical applications. There are some good options out there that can help you achieve the color you want without the growth, but first let’s talk about the current options regarding color and growth.
The industry strives for healthy, vibrant turf without the unwanted top growth. There’s nothing worse than double cutting or bagging clippings when you cannot establish a mowing frequency to keep up with early spring growth. The first treatments applied in early spring typically use a pre-emergent herbicide + fertilizer combo product. Usually we see some residual effect from a winter fertility treatment applied the previous fall. Most cool season turf will have enough fertility from the winter and the first round applications to carry the color through to the early summer application. However, a second round application is needed in the transition zone for broadleaf weed control. In the transition zone this falls between first of April and the middle of May. One issue with this application is to know how much fertilizer to apply that will not cause unwanted top growth. It’s ideal to combine the fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide applications to avoid having to make two separate applications. Obviously, making one application over a property, rather than two, saves you time and money.
A question I’ve been asked hundreds of times is, “What can I put down to provide color to the turf that will last through to the next application without excessive top growth?” Helena has a few different products that can help the turf care professional accomplish this. The first product that I would suggest is our liquid controlled release product, CoRoN. CoRoN is a proven product that has been around for over 25 years. It’s been proven to reduce clippings by 46% vs urea in some trials. CoRoN is an excellent tank mix partner, so fitting it into second round applications with your broadleaf weed control program is safe and easy. Using 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of N (nitrogen) per thousand square feet will give you the color you’re after without the top growth.
Another product we’ve been successful with is Ele-Max ENC, a liquid 11-8-5 fertilizer with a chelated-minors package. A number of large turf care professionals use Ele-Max ENC at 0.5 to 1 gallon/acre on second round applications along with broadleaf weed control. With Ele-Max ENC you’re applying minimal N, therefore additional top growth is low. We get consistent feedback from customers that color is sustained with Ele-Max ENC and it lasts until their next application. If you currently have contracts that include mowing and chemical applications, CoRoN and Ele-Max ENC are perfect tools to get you the color you desire without the additional cost and headache associated with unwanted top growth. So, can you have color without growth? The answer is yes.