The Benefits of Late Fall Fertilization

November 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Late season Nitrogen Fertilization or simply late fall fertilization is one of the more overlooked treatments of turf. Late fall fertilization has many benefits as with any fertilizer or application. A high nitrogen fertilizer applied once the grass has stopped growing ensures color retention throughout the winter months and into the early spring. When incorporated into a complete turf care program, late fall fertilization also helps to ensure that newly established seed from earlier fall over-seeding has established root systems and reduces the chance of snow mold and winter burn.

late fall fertilizationKey Benefits of Late Fall Fertilization

Late fall fertilization has many benefits, including:

  • Enhanced fall and winter color
  • Early spring “green-up”
  • Increased shoot density
  • Improved fall, winter, and spring root growth
  • Enhanced storage of energy reserves for spring growth

When to Carry Out Late Fall Fertilization

Late season fertilization entails applying the bulk of the season’s nitrogen during the months of September through December, when turf still retains its vibrant summer green color. This process should not be confused with winter or dormant fertilization, in which the treatment is applied after the turf has lost most of its color and ceased growing.

To get the best results from late fall fertilization, excessive shoot growth not be encouraged by the over-application of nitrogen earlier in the season. If this occurs, cold tolerance may decrease and there may be a corresponding increase in the incidence of the snow mold diseases during the winter and the following spring. For the same reasons, late season application should be delayed if extended periods of unusually warm weather (average daily temperatures greater than 55 degrees) are being experienced, or are forecast.