I've got some definite ideas as it comes to pre-stress and early-stress conditioning of fairways.
The first of these ideas is to use a growth regulator. If you've never done this or fiddled with doing it, it can be some of the best money spent for a dramatic result.
Primo Maxx is my personal favorite first step. I realize that there are as many ways to use this material as there are breeds of monkeys, so for you creative monkey breeders out there, hang with me. You might see an organ ground by something that you've never seen before.
Timing is critical with Primo. To be good with it, you have to understand the Rule of Twenty-One which should keep you out of the two biggest Primo blunders. The first part of this rule is that the material must be left on the leaf blade for at least 21 min. Thats simple. Dont spray and water in right away. $ down the drains. The second part is understanding that after 21 days, you are essentially back to zero as far as growth regulation. Part 2(a) of the rule is that the period past 21 days is where theres a bit of a pendulum swing — an increase in growth. This can be good or bad, depending on how you use your timing. When to start? Thats easy. When you can. Now.
So you've consulted the schedule and your equipment. you've selected the right nozzles (I like the TeeJet Air Induction units) and the sprayer is calibrated. For most cool season situations and a lot of warm season setups as well, we start with 17 oz. per acre (.39 oz. per 1000) and repeat this between 17 and 21 days later. Second app is usually a little stronger at 21 oz. per acre (.48 oz. per 1000). Thats rule of thumb, but a pretty good starting place. Oh, and as little water as possible per 1000 is also a good idea.
In a perfect world, youd make your apps every 21 days to stay in regulation. If youd like to cycle a bit longer into 28-31 days, just remember that you are falling into that recovering growth period. Having this happen when you are trying to slick up fairways for the Fall High Handicap Classic might not be the best time to have a big increase in clippings. However, if you are good with the calendar and your 21-31 post Primo window has an aerification event or comes at the end of your nitrogen release curve, you've earned the Merit Badge.
Theres been a lot of talk about what goes in the tank with Primo apps. First consideration is to consult my Rule of 21. If it cant be left on the leaf blade for at least 21 min, it doesn't have any biz in the tank. From there, there arent many rules. A lot of people like to have some N and some Iron in the tank, but economics of many things have changed whats available to spend. I like to keep it simple. Usually .1 lbs of N per 1000, 2-3 oz. of Kelp Extract or a product like Earthworks Sea3 and maybe a little bit of Iron from a Urea Bond product or Ferrous Sulfate. Simple.
Alright so let's do the math. In my part of the world the agency price on Primo Maxx in a 10 gal link pack is $2758.73 ($2.155 per oz.) Lets do the fairways at The Happy Monkey Golf and Unicycle Club which are 37 Acres.
Our first app at 17 oz per acre goes down for a total cost of $36.64 per acre which means the 37 wonderful acres at HMGUC get treated for $1355.50. The second app at 21 oz spends the money that the Head Sandwich Maker wants for new Banana Split Dishes at the rate of $1674.45.
If we look at the calendar, we have room for the first two apps and two more before the Snow Monkeys fly south, so total cost of this program is about $6378.80. For The Monkey Club, this is a lot of bananas. Mowing fuel and labor. This is pretty tangible. If we figure two units hitting fairways even one day less per week at 7 gallons of fuel burn per hour in a 4 hour period (28 gallons less per week @$4.10 per gallon) thats a minimum savings JUST IN FUEL of $115 and in a 14 week program thats $1607 lopped off the top of the chemical cost. And most supers wont actually save the labor $, they will use it wisely somewhere else to keep up with the summer demands.
Now I understand that we can do the numbers all day long. Capital equipment costs, labor costs, Marking foam, etc. making us go blind using spreadsheets. But for me, the idea of using a growth regulator comes into the agronomy of having a better plant, a better surface, using a few less inputs, perhaps not needing a rescue application and doing less to fiddle with it. When seen through those specs, it kind of pays for itself. Perhaps even a couple times over.
So there's this Turfheads look at using Primo on fairways to rock the pre- and early-stress conditioning that most of you should be thinking about at this very instant!