Seeding while grasses are dormant can be an effective way to get a good stand come springtime. But timing can be tricky to keep grasses from germinating early and it’s critical to get the seed in the soil and covered. Here is a timeline of work and tips from Scott Kinkead, executive vice president of Turfco, on how to make the most of November to make the best playing surface.
For sports fields in northern climates and transition areas:
- To effectively dormant seed, turf managers need to put seed into the ground while it’s not frozen but cold enough so that germination will not occur until next spring. Prior to seeding, managers can continue with their existing turf maintenance schedule.
- In preparing to seed, turf managers need to choose their preferred grass and check machinery.
- Because seed-to-soil contact is critical to ensure strong germination come springtime, using a seeder like Turfco’s TriWave 45 is more effective than broadcasting seed over a field. The TriWave 45 plants seed in square slits and managers can easily adjust the depth to get through the thatch layer to soil. Without good seed-to-soil contact, managers risk wasting seed.
- Timing to begin seeding will vary based on location.
- Fields further north, such as North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana, will begin dormant seeding earlier than fields in states with milder conditions.
- Fields in transition zones that arc across the U.S. from Maryland to Oregon will likely seed later as regions see milder winters.
- However, many turf managers will complete the treatment before Thanksgiving, after which any long-term warm spells are unlikely.
- Topdressing after seeding can help ensure that seed stays in soil, especially with a heavy spread of wet sand from a drop-style topdresser like Turfco’s Mete-R-Matic XL.
For sports fields in southern climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11):
- Because warm-season grasses will go dormant during fall, one solution to keeping fields green is to overseed with a mix of cool-season grasses.
- As temperatures get cooler, fields can be prepared with aeration or verticutting to break up turf, followed by a heavy broadcast of seed over the field.
- Turf managers with a very active field may prefer to use a seeder like the TriWave 45 that lays seed in square slits for optimal seed germination without disrupting the field.
- Follow-up with fertilizer and water to encourage germination, and a layer of topdressing. Normal field management can resume after grass has become established.