Calcium Products - Displaying items by tag: golf

Calcium Products - Displaying items by tag: golf

What are the two types of gypsum; which to choose?

When choosing gypsum it has to be a calcium sulfate di-hydrate (CaSO4*2H2O). This form of gypsum is by far the most soluble form available.

Let’s take a second to review the two major forms of gypsum in the marketplace today in lawn care. The first form is what I mentioned above, calcium sulfate di-hydrate (CaSO4*2H20) and the second form is simply calcium sulfate (anhydrite) (CaSO4). You’re probably thinking, ‘what’s the big deal, gypsum is gypsum and after all it’s only a commodity.’ But there actually is a huge difference. One is very fast acting and extremely water-soluble; the other is not. The di-hydrate form is what you need to look for. This type of gypsum is already infused with two extra molecules of water making it easier to break down.  This makes the nutrients available to the plant as soon as it dissolves into solution; with some brands that’s only a matter of minutes. The anhydrite form does not have any water associated with it and therefore is very hard to break down into solution, sometimes taking years to begin working.

Now that we know the two major forms of gypsum on the market today; now you should know how to figure out which type is which. The info can be found on the back of most bags. The following is what you want to see:


Calcium sulfate di-hydrate (CaSO4*2H20)……92%
Derived from naturally mined calcium sulfate di-hydrate.

Don’t let the levels of calcium on labels fool you. The anhydrite forms will contain upwards of 30% calcium, but they are not soluble and do not break down fast enough to be effective. If the calcium is not available to the plant, it doesn’t matter how much calcium or sulfur is in the gypsum.



145 million years in the making

Often I am asked about our source of gypsum and what makes it so special. I thought I would take this opportunity to share a piece of history with you.

SuperCal SO4 is derived from calcium sulfate dihydrate or, for you chemistry fans, CaSO4*2H20. One of the purest gypsum deposits in the world, happens to be found in a very small region of Webster County, IA, near Fort Dodge.

According to Raymond Anderson in his piece, Fort Dodge Gypsum: A Salt from Iowa’s Jurassic Sea, ”this deposit, part of the Jurassic-age Fort Dodge Formation (about 145 million years old), comprises one of the most pure gypsum deposits known on Earth.”

Anderson went on to explain, “The gypsum at Fort Dodge, like most commercial-scale deposits, had its origins in the evaporation of seawater from a restricted shallow basin. Water from the Jurassic-age Sundance Sea passed over a low-lying barrier into the basin, where the mineral salts became concentrated by evaporation in the hot semi-tropical sun. When the brine became sufficiently concentrated, gypsum crystals formed and settled to the floor of the basin.”

Check out Anderson’s article; it provides an interesting look back at one of Iowa’s most valuable natural resources and gives more insight into why our SuperCal SO4 is so pure!


Humates in Turf

We’ve been getting a lot of questions at trade shows about the benefits of humate additions to turfgrass systems. Following is a rundown of what humates are and how they can benefit plants.

Humates or humic substances are fully decomposed remains of plant or animal organic matter. They are the most chemically active compounds in soils with large cation and anion exchange capacities, far exceeding clays. In general, they are very long lasting in soil, but the more intensively a site is managed, the faster they breakdown. This is one reason to add humic substances to your soil: to replace humus depletion in agricultural and horticultural soils.

Most humic products are derived from a mineral called leonardite, whose origins are not entirely understood. It is either an oxidized form of lignite or an accumulation of humic acids leached from topsoil by alkaline water into deeper strata of soil. Leonardite was discovered in North Dakota in 1919 by Leonard Dave, a University of North Dakota faculty member. It is also found in Utah and New Mexico. Leonardite is normally found very close to the surface near lignite deposits.

There are a few terms often thrown around when discussing humic substances; let’s take a look at them to try and clear up any confusion. Leonardite contains three types of organic substances:

  1. Fulvic acid – the fraction that is soluble in water under all pH conditions
  2. Humin – the fraction not soluble in water at any pH value
  3. Humic acid – the fraction not soluble in water under acidic conditions but is soluble at higher pH values

So, how do humates help plants? Again, the mechanisms for how these substances work in plants and soil are poorly understood, but research is being conducted worldwide (including some work funded by Calcium Products) in an attempt to help us understand the how and why. It is assumed, however, that the chelating properties of these substances are most likely responsible for enhanced nutrient uptake and retention in soils, as are their large cation exchange capacity values.

Humates have shown the following benefits in turfgrass situations:

  • Improved germination
  • Improved seedling vigor
  • Enhanced nutrient uptake (N, P, K, Mg, Cu, Mn)
  • Increased microbial actibity
  • Increased root mass

It is important to note that much of the research done on turf has shown that humic substances, particularly leonardite, realize the greatest benefits when applied to sandy soils low in organic matter and CEC. Also, incorporation of these products into the soil further improved the beneficial aspects of humic substances. This means sand-based turf systems (sand-based putting greens, sand-based and sand-capped athletic fields and any turf system intensively topdressed with sand) can benefit from applications of humic substances. It would also be wise to time your applications with your aerification practices to help incorporate the product into the soil.

Calcium Product’s HumaCal, combines the benefits of humates, calcium and sulfur. The ingredients are combined through our proprietary manufacturing process before pelletizing to give you the benefits of easy application and immediate action in the soil.

Talk to your dealer about HumaCal and start on the road to healthy soil today!


Goats on the course?

Mowing down unwanted vegetation…

I have been in the golf business for nearly 20 years. Most of the time superintendents turn to mechanical means to manicure their rough areas but in some locations superintendents go back to golf’s roots and employ goats.

Yes, you heard me, goats…check out how these two courses are using our four-legged friends to mow down some unwanted vegetation:

Pasatiempo Golf Club (Santa Cruz, Ca)

Hawks Tree Golf Club (Bismarck, ND)



Turfgrass seed head production

The time of year is upon us when your turf starts to take on a brownish cast due to seed head production. The driving purpose of most plants is to perpetuate their species by reproduction and each year, grasses will attempt to put out a seed head for just that purpose.

Why does turf look so brown and straw-like during seed head production? Because the plant is reallocating resources toward reproduction and taking a large majority of the carbohydrates  normally put toward shoot and root growth away. Also, seed head stalks have a completely different texture than the leaf blades you normally mow, which is what results in that straw-like, brownish-tan appearance.

In the upper midwest, we are already mostly past the time for Kentucky bluegrass to produce seed heads, but the ryegrass period is upon us now in most areas or just around the corner. Perennial ryegrass has much thicker seed head stalks and therefore, will look even rougher after mowing than does Kentucky bluegrass. If you want to minimize this appearance in your turf, it’s important to stay on top of your mowing regimen and not allow the plant to fully ‘go to seed,’ which will result in an even rougher appearance. But, you can never fully keep the grass plant from trying to produce a seed head… Or can you?

I was out at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research station meeting with Dan Strey, the turfgrass research superintendent, the other day and he pointed out one of my old research projects to me where two different levels of fertility were applied in strips for at least 4 years. The two rates of nitrogen making up these strips had always looked different with regard to color, but now there is a distinct difference in seed head production. One strip was full of seed heads as you would normally expect, while the other had virtually no seed heads in it. My memory indicated that the higher fertility level were the strips that had no seed heads in them and I confirmed it after getting back to the office and looking at the old plot plan. Take a look at this photograph:

turf strips

The whitish looking strip on the left is full of seed heads and received 0.5 lbs of N per month during the growing season for a total of 3.5 lbs N per year. The greener looking strip received 1.0 lbs of N per month during the growing season for a total of 7.0 lbs N per year. The other interesting thing to note is that urea was the source of nitrogen and it has been over a year since these applications were made, yet the differences are still drastic. Normally urea is thought of as a ‘flash in the pan’ type fertilizer, but there a few studies I did at Iowa State that showed it to be much longer lasting than previously thought, especially when the bank of nitrogen was built up over the course of a year or more.

The reason the seed head production was lower with the higher rate of nitrogen is that when nitrogen is supplied in excess, the plant allocates the nitrogen into shoot growth (and some root growth) and delays maturation of the plant. Essentially, the additional nitrogen keeps the plant doing what it would do at a juvenile stage while working its way up to reproduction. Obviously, the cost of applying this much nitrogen and the potential leaching of it into groundwater isn’t enough to offset dealing with seed heads in your turf, but I just found it interesting that it is possible to delay certain physiological events in the plant’s life by modifying the amount of nitrogen it receives. With all that said, the plant will eventually make its way to reproduction, so don’t get any ideas about totally doing away with seed head production. I will have Dan continue to monitor the situation and report back when the higher nitrogen areas start to produce seed heads.


Growing golf – hope springs eternal

Depending on whom you ask, the official arrival of spring begins either on March 1 (meteorological spring), March 21 (astronomical spring) or Monday to kick off the start of Masters week (golfers’ spring).

There is no tradition like the Masters Golf Tournament and if you are in the golf business you know what I mean. The membership at Augusta National Golf Club hosts the greatest event in all of sport, in my humble opinion. They do some unique things such as referring to ticket holders as “patrons,” price the concessions so inexpensive that the first time you visit The Masters as a patron you have to ask are you sure the price is right? A classic Coke cost $1.50 and a pimento cheese or ham sandwich costs only $1.50. Parking is FREE, and the grounds are manicured to perfection, leaving no stone unturned, no blade of grass out of place. It is a very spiritual place.

During yesterday’s Chairman’s Press Conference, Billy Payne, Masters Chairman, was asked about a rule in golf. He simply deferred answering the question by stating Augusta National is just a golf club that happens to host a well-known tournament, it wouldn’t be prudent to make golf policy decisions. In their own way, in an unassuming way, Augusta National and their leadership knows they are more than “just a golf club hosting a well-known tournament.” They are the most powerful golf body in the world. What Augusta National does, it is likely others will follow.

One of the tenets of the PGA of America is to grow the game of golf. As a PGA member for over 10 years I can tell you growing the game is the future of golf. While we, as PGA professionals, have always had strong initiatives to grow the game, the PGA of America, in my opinion, has fallen short.

What Payne announced Monday and re-iterated yesterday in his Chairman’s press conference was that if Augusta National wants to grow the game of golf and do it in an exciting way, they can do it. It was announced in partnership with the USGA and the PGA of America, Augusta National created a competition for junior golfers to introduce and inspire a new generation of golfers. The competition is the National Championship of the Drive, Pitch and Putt competition with the finals at Augusta National Golf Club on the Sunday before tournament week.

There have been a lot of growing the game initiatives, and they have been pretty successful, but if I know Augusta National like I think I do, this new competition is going to inspire, introduce and invigorate a new generation of golfers. Well done, Chairman Payne, well done!

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