With much of the South experiencing an unseasonably cool summer this year, field managers have had to adapt their turfgrass maintenance programs accordingly. Seeding projects, in particular, have required different approaches to ensure successful grow-in this year.

Late spring and early summer are traditionally the ideal time to seed warm-season grasses because they grow best in warm temperatures. Depending on the species, warm-season grass seeds will germinate when the soil is above 60°F. The later that germination temperature arrives, the less time the grass has to grow in before fall traffic and, eventually, winter stress.

As a field manager, you have the added conflict of planning around sports seasons and field use at your facility. Football fields provide the least scheduling conflicts in the South. But spring soccer, lacrosse, and baseball seasons can postpone seeding projects on those fields even later into the summer.

Ultimately, the more time that new seedlings have to grow undisturbed, the more likely the field is to establish well. Whether your growing season is shortened by temperature, team needs, or both, the right products can help likewise shorten your field’s grow-in time.

As with any seeding project, the products you apply can have a significant effect on the results. Foliar-Pak Grow-In is a comprehensive establishment product that is always a good idea for growing in a new field, but it’s especially helpful when cooler temperatures make for conditions that are less than ideal.

Grow-In has an 8-4-5 analysis while also delivering micronutrients, amino acids, and seaweed extract to optimize plant health. The results of Grow-In include expedited maturity, density, and hardiness of grass fields. Use Grow-In at a rate of six ounces per thousand square feet per week or 12 ounces per thousand square feet every other week until the field reaches your desired density.

Along with Grow-In, it’s helpful to apply fertilizers with high nitrogen content to encourage seedling growth and establishment. 26-0-6 with Armament and 21-0-0 Ammonium Sulfate are two good options. Ammonium sulfate helps warm-season grasses grow in sooner in cooler temperatures compared to urea.

26-0-6 contains Armament technology to ensure the plant can take up the nutrients from the fertilizer, along with other nutrients already in the soil. 26-0-6 is ⅔ urea and ⅓ ammonium sulfate and is 30% slow-release. Apply 26-0-6 at one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet every week until the field reaches its desired density.

21-0-0 uses ammonium sulfate to help the field grow in dense and green. It is 100% ammonium sulfate. Apply 21-0-0 at one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet every week until the field reaches its desired density.

Follow up a Grow-In spray application up with an application of granular 21-0-0 or 26-0-6. You can use these granular fertilizers on an alternating basis each week or pick one and stick with it. It is very important to water your granular fertilizer after spreading it so your turf doesn’t get fertilizer burn. 

Follow this program until the field reaches your desired density. Then switch into maintenance mode and use 26-0-6 at a rate of one pound per thousand square feet per month, either in biweekly applications of half-pound shots or a monthly blanket application of one pound. Switch all foliar applications to Play-On at a biweekly rate of three ounces per thousand square feet or a monthly application of six ounces per thousand square feet. If you have budget constraints, only treat the area that you need to fill in.

Your ATS rep can help you determine the best program for your fields and secure the right products to help establish warm-season grass despite cooler summer temperatures.