The Benefits of Fall Fertilization

by Rob Garcia, Winfield

The question often comes up on what the benefits of fall fertilizer applications are for the turf. Fertilizer applications during the summer promote mainly top growth while applications made in the fall when night time temperatures are lower is stored in roots and shoots to fuel new root growth. The days are still bright and sunny so photosynthesis activity is still high and energy produced is stored until the next spring. The energy that is stored helps the turf grass have better winter survival and promotes better spring green up. With early spring green up spring applications can be pushed back eliminating dealing with excessive clippings and allowing for the use of fertilizers with more slow release nitrogen eliminating leaching and clippings which decreases mowing requirements.

Fall fertilizers should rely on nitrogen sources that are not broken down by microbial activity for the slow release portion. Blends with 50% slow-release from sources like U-Flexx or Sulphur coated urea are great choices and the addition of some potassium will help increase the durability of the turf grass helping the turf withstand the warm dry fall days we have in Colorado. Applications made after October 15th while the turf grass is still green can be made with either straight urea or ammonium sulfate. One additional benefit of ammonium sulfate being used is that you also get some pH lowering effects that help with our alkaline soils.

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