Calcium Products - Andrew Hoiberg, Ph.D.
Calcium Product 98G

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Andrew Hoiberg, Ph.D.

Andrew Hoiberg, Ph.D.

Minimize Snow Mold Damage

Perfect conditions for snow mold
La Nina winters typically result in colder, wetter conditions in the Midwestern United States. Combined with the relatively warm and dry November we’ve experienced, perfect conditions for snow mold development could be present this year. When ground is not thoroughly frozen prior to long-term snow coverage, snow mold tends to flourish. 

There are two types of snow mold, gray and pink. Gray is caused by Typhula fungal species, while pink is caused by Microdochium nivale, which tends to be more active in cool (30-50 deg F) and wet conditions.

Recuperate from and avoid snow mold

Generally speaking, snow mold isn’t considered a disease that will completely wipe out a stand of turf, and typical management practices in spring will allow turf to recover from snow mold damage fairly quickly. However, it can be unsightly and certainly can cause extensive damage, affecting turf playability early in the season. If damage is too severe, overseeding and fertilizer can be used in the spring for recuperation. 

Some suggestions for minimizing problems with snow mold:

  • - Avoid excess nitrogen applications in fall
  • - Maintain the same mowing height through the fall months
  • - Mitigate thatch layer with cultural practices
  • - Maintain a clean turf surface (leaves, etc.)
  • - Apply fungicides in the fall on high value turf areas

Treating snow mold damaged turf with SO4 pelletized gypsum

Calcium is a nutrient that is known for building up resiliency in plants. This is largely due to its integration into cell walls, helping provide defense against insect and pathogen infection.

Although not typically recommended as a preventive treatment for snow mold, we have observed that SO4 applications can result in less damage to applied areas compared to areas that received no treatment (see photo).

SO4 vs NO Snow MOld

Care for turfgrass going into winter

The best thing you can do for your turf is to maintain appropriate fertility and mowing, and keep your turf clean of debris going into winter. This limits the ability of fungal pathogens to feed off decaying turf tissue,other debris and unused fertilizer. 

Fungicides that include the following active ingredients can also be used to prevent snow mold infection: PCNB, iprodione, DMI class, strobilurin, and thiophanate-methyl. As always, consult with your local extension office on how to decide on the best product for your situation.

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Application Decisions – Flexibility of SO4 and 98G

98G Application Photo

Using SO4 pelletized gypsum and 98G pelletized limestone in your fertility program allows flexibility when weather limits application season in the fall and spring. Using SO4 pelletized gypsum and 98G pelletized limestone in your fertility program allows flexibility when weather limits application season in the fall and spring.

Considerations for applying 98G

Ideally, 98G would be applied in the fall to initiate pH correction before spring planting occurs, but its rapid reactivity allows flexibility for spring application as well. Regardless of the season of application, one should consider how 98G is applied with respect to other field work. To maximize the efficiency of 98G, the pellets should be applied and allowed to begin breakdown via water (rain, dew, contact with soil) before being worked into the soil with a field cultivator or other tillage equipment in order to target the zone of active acidification — the top 4 inches of the soil profile.

If 98G is being applied for pH maintenance, it can be blended with other flat-rate, broadcast fertilizers to limit trips across the field, or placed into a split bin variable rate application. When the rate exceeds 200-400 lbs/A, it should be a standalone application.

Considerations for applying SO4

SO4 has several options from an application standpoint. Our general recommendation is that it be applied in spring with other soluble fertilizers, however, it can also be applied in the fall and remain available for crop sulfur needs come spring. SO4 can also be used as a rescue application in the spring where visual sulfur deficiency is present. SO4 can be applied any time after emergence and with the right amount of precipitation, will result in plant green up in less than a week. Because SO4 has a very low salt index relative to other fertilizers, it will not injure/burn young crops after broadcast application. 

Regardless of application scenario, SO4 works best when it is left on the soil surface. Since sulfate is an anion (negatively charged), it has potential to leach, and letting the product work from the surface downward will result in the best sulfate uptake efficiency. 

As with 98G, SO4 can also be blended with other fertilizers to maximize application efficiency. Oftentimes, SO4 is blended with a nitrogen source for sidedress application in the spring, and with phosphorus and potassium applications in the fall.

It should be noted that anytime SO4 or 98G are blended with other fertilizers, particularly those that attract moisture, the blend should go directly from the blending equipment to the spreader to minimize the amount of product degradation from added moisture. It is not recommended that liquid products be added to these blends because it can result in product breakdown and difficulty in the spreading operation.

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Wear Tolerance in Turfgrass

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Turfgrass species matter

Wear tolerance is one of the most important characteristics of different turfgrass species when making decisions on which to include in various settings. Wear tolerance is very dependent on species, environment, and management practices. Certain species have physiological differences that make them more tolerant of wear and aid in their ability to recuperate after significant wear events. 

Turfgrass species in cool-season environments

In cool-season settings, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass are typically associated with the best wear tolerance and recuperative ability, respectively. They are often used in conjunction to provide the best overall traffic tolerance in athletic fields. 

In golf greens and an increasing number of fairways, however, due to low mowing height requirements and aesthetics, creeping bentgrass is the species of choice. Creeping bentgrass can be mowed easily to green heights and exhibits fair to good wear tolerance that can withstand wear associated with players’ foot traffic and maintenance operations’ vehicle traffic.

Turfgrass species in warm-season environments

In warm-season settings, hybrid Bermuda grasses are often chosen for both sports and golf applications as it has excellent wear tolerance, recuperative ability, and certain dwarf-type cultivars can tolerate low mowing heights for greens. 

Impact of maintenance programs

Aside from species selection and the traffic environment, your maintenance program can have a significant impact on the overall traffic tolerance of your turfgrass stand. Reducing compaction and closely monitoring your fertility program will maximize the inherent wear tolerance of your stand. Compaction has negative consequences on the root system and can result in quicker wearing of the leaf tissue. 

Ensuring the right amount of nitrogen and potassium promotes recuperative growth and enhanced wear tolerance. However, too much nitrogen can reduce wear tolerance by making the leaf tissue more succulent.

Impact of soil types

Depending on the soil type, it may be necessary for you to pay even closer attention to the fertility program. In sand-based root zones on golf courses or athletic fields, there is less exchange capacity, and therefore, less nutrients available in the soil. Cations such as calcium, magnesium and potassium have fewer sites to attach to and with the coarse nature of the sandy soil texture, anions such as nitrate and sulfate can be easily leached from the profile before plants can access them. 

Establishing nutrient goals (in lbs/1000 ft2)  based on recommendations from your local extension specialist will ensure the best possible growing environment to display the wear tolerance characteristics of your turfgrass stand.

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Implement 98G and SO4 Equations into Your VRT System

iStock Computer

One of our core beliefs at Calcium Products is to embrace technological advancements that aid growers in maximizing profits. We strive to integrate our products into these technologies wherever possible. One of our core beliefs at Calcium Products is to embrace technological advancements that aid growers in maximizing profits. We strive to integrate our products into these technologies wherever possible. 

Variable rate technology (VRT) allows growers to apply products at the right rate, right place, right time, and with the right source – the 4 R’s. Following the 4 R’s minimizes impact on the environment and maximizes a grower’s return on investment. We have worked for the past five years to develop, test, and refine product specific equations for 98G and SO4 to allow incorporation into VRT systems. 

Given the wide scope of the VRT software industry, we are able to work directly with retailers and/or software companies to make sure our equations are correctly incorporated into their specific VRT system. 

The best way to incorporate our equations into your VRT system is to simply reach out to me and get the conversation started. We will need to know which system you are using and who is responsible for entering equations. Once we gather this info, the process is generally very quick and seamless. We are happy to provide background on how the equations were developed and the equations themselves. We also offer calculators based on these equations that show how the equations provide recommendations prior to incorporation into the VRT system.

We have had tremendous success merging our product equations into customers’ VRT systems, which has helped put our products into consideration when talking with growers about maximizing soil fertility. We look forward to more of you reaching out to get this process started.

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