Shape Up Athletic Fields Now Advises LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Thomas J. Koske  |  4/19/2005 10:28:39 PM

News You Can Use For June 2004 

Late spring is the latest you can start to have a good Bermuda grass athletic turf. Don’t expect to work on it a month before season play or practice and get much of a result, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.

"Best response to fertilizing will depend on supplying what is lacking or out of balance in your soil," Koske says, adding, "To determine that, a soil test is advisable, but don’t wait for that this late in the season." He says soil test in mid or late winter, to get your season’s fertility game plan. Check with your local LSU AgCenter extension agent about this.

If you have not fertilized yet, you are one to two applications behind. That does not mean you can double up without burning the turf. Without a soil test to guide you, try an early June application of 350 pounds per acre of 13-13-13 fertilizer formulation.

Early July, apply 125-150 lb/A ammonium nitrate or equivalent. Mid August go back with another nitrate application. Finish off with a half rate (160-180 lb/A) of triple 13 or equivalent in mid September.

"This cookie-cutter fertility plan should give you good grass, but may not be the best plan for your field’s soil, because the soil pH is not taken into consideration," the LSU AgCenter horticulturist says. The plan can easily limit growth and fertilizer efficiency. Soil test and lime or acidify during the cool seasons if recommended.

Mow often and at the correct height. Common Bermuda grass is mowed at 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch three to four times in two weeks. Hybrid 419 Bermuda grass is mowed at least twice a week at 1 inch. These regimens will keep the turf tight, aggressive and healthy. Use a sharp blade.

If weeds are a problem on a mature stand, many options are available, depending on the grass cultivar and the weed spectrum. Many post-emergence choices are listed in the Louisiana Suggested Chemical Weed Control Guide, publication #1565, available on-line only through the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. View the Commercial/Turf/Pest Control section at www.louisianalawnandgarden.org.

Most summer weeds can be controlled with two applications of the chemical MSMA, especially if tank mixed with either metribuzin, 2,4-D or asulam. Proper application is a key to success. Schedule a fertilizer application shortly after the last weed control procedure.

A more complete turf care program can be found in the AgCenter publication #1989, Turf Maintenance for Athletic Fields.

For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com.  Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
Source: Tom Koske (225) 578-2222, or tkoske@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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