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Is your turf juicing?

Last week, Manny Ramirez became the latest in a long line of baseball stars to be exposed as a cheater. When reports surfaced that he had failed a drug test, Manny resorted to the typical excuses: someone told me to take this stuff, I didn't know what was in it, I didn't know it was illegal, etc.

Yeah, right.

You might ask yourself, "How could a professional athlete, who earns a living with his body, take a drug or supplement without knowing what's in it, what side effects it has, or how it might interact with other supplements?"

It's a valid question, but it begs another question. If you make your living by growing healthy turf, why would you apply something to your greens without knowing exactly what's in it, what side effects it might have, and how it might interact with other management practices?

And yet, many golf course superintendents do just that by using biostimulants, turf enhancers, biofungicides, and other miscellaneous products. Many of these products have unknown ingredients, haven't been thoroughly researched, and are of questionable benefit. When you boil it down, they aren't any different from the plethora of diet supplements advertised on late night infomercials.

Before using these products, consider a couple of things. First, in many cases the positive response you see is nutritional. So why not apply fertilizers instead, so you can control how much of each nutrient is delivered? 

Second, some products contain plant growth hormones, which can negatively interact with your growth regulator, herbicide, or fungicide programs. It just doesn't make any sense to apply a gibberellic acid (GA) inhibitor like trinexapac-ethyl and then turn around and apply an unknown amount of GA from a biostimulant.

I am not saying that all biostimulants, turf enhancers, and biofungicides are bad. There are some good products out there that have their place. But I do encourage you to be an informed consumer by demanding to know exactly what nutrients and hormones are in the products you purchase, asking to see research data that shows the products are beneficial, and reviewing the research carefully to make sure it is relevant to your situation.

You wouldn't take a pill without knowing what's in it, don't ask your greens to do the same thing!

One response to “Is your turf juicing?”

Anonymous said...

Drastic times call for drastic measures i.e the bacterial wilt epidemic. I agree with the thought that ultimentely we dont know what are in these antibiotic products or even if they ever make it inside the plant. This is the beauty of a test plot! The truth is most superintendents would probably spray their own blood on a green if the right person advised them to do so. We all look to universities for guidence throughout this industry and now we look for dependance! We need to all work together and completely engulf ourselfs in this topic until we have more answers. Bentgrass really is becomming an endangered species.

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