Every plant has a stress budget. It can stand just so much stress before it gives up and dies. The stress can come from many factors. You can’t control factors such as heat, but if you can eliminate or lower other stressors, the plant will be able to tolerate stress from factors beyond your control.
Summer stress on cool season turfgrass is caused by a myriad of factors, not the least of which is sustained periods of high temperature. Periods of sustained heat can slow the photosynthetic rate of turfgrass. This lower rate of photosynthesis means the plant is producing less and less food to sustain itself.
The use of Nature Safe will help increase the photosynthetic rate of the plants under high heat situations because the beneficial soil microbes give off large amounts of carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is used by the plant to carry on more photosynthesis. The plant will be able to make more food to sustain itself even though it may be functioning at reduced levels.
The thicker, denser turf that is produced from Nature Safe keep the sun’s rays from reaching the soil and seriously raising soil temperatures. This allows the roots to grow and flourish even more because cooler soil produces superior root systems and superior root systems produce superior plants.
Heat alone can be fatal if the high temperatures last long enough. However, many other factors exacerbate the situation.
Soil compaction and poor soil structure, low height of cut and excessive traffic reduce turfgrass vigor even when it is not suffering from prolonged heat stress.
Over time, the regular use of Nature Safe will also help improve soil structure by feeding the organisms that flocculate the soil, or glue it together to form a granulated soil rather than an adobe brick soil. The flocculated soil has cracks and fissures in it that allow air, water and fertilizer to reach the roots. This process doesn’t happen over night. It requires several seasons to accomplish, but some results can be evident in one season.
The build up of soluble salts from synthetic fertilizer and poor quality irrigation water also add to the problem. Just as eating salty peanuts and pretzels makes a bar patron want to consume more beer, the soluble salts in the soil cause the plant to require more water to survive. The plant wilts at much higher levels of available moisture.
Nature Safe has a much lower soluble salt level than most synthetic fertilizers. This helps reduce the build up of soluble salts in the soil. When this is coupled with improved root structure, the plant is able to make better use of available water and nutrients.
Nematodes and soil borne diseases that attack the roots are another factor that puts stress on a plant. These organisms don’t do enough damage to cause obvious distress symptoms, just enough to weaken the plant and predispose it to other stress factors. This type of damage is often referred to as sub-clinical damage.
The regular use of Nature Safe throughout the season will help greatly lower many of the types of stress that affects plants. Nature Safe feeds the beneficial soil microbes that compete with the pathogens. These microbes help keep at bay unseen soil borne pathogens such as fungi and parasitic nematodes. Lowering the stress caused by fungi and nematodes increases the plant’s ability to withstand other stressors.
To seriously reduce summer stress from the factors listed above, it is necessary to get a jump on the problem by applying Nature Safe early in the season. It must be applied at least 30 days prior to the advent of summer stress factors. The earlier it is applied the better. It is also necessary to apply some Nature Safe regularly during the season to maintain the highest possible populations of beneficial soil microbes. On golf greens, we recommend making small monthly applications. On lawn areas, at least four applications per year should be made for maximum results. If such programs are followed, the turf in question will be much healthier and much better equipped to withstand the rigors of summer.