Bulletin 46

Battling The Vicious Bite Of Jack Frost–At Home And Abroad

Every superintendent has their own special routine when It comes to preparing and protecting turfgrass during the winter. Some use tarps, some use chemistry, and some have a lucky rabbit’s foot in the top drawer of their desk. No judgment–but let’s set luck aside and talk about some proven turfgrass research programs we have found success in over the past two decades.

In 2001, we at Plant Food Company Inc. redirected our product development trajectory based on a new mission–Improving playing conditions with reduced chemical support. Our primary motivation for turfgrass research was inspired by our pursuit for progression. Our constant desire to better ourselves and the industry we work to support. Starting from the ground up, we focus on correcting soil chemistry and improving plant health.

21 years later, we are seeing disease pressure drop dramatically in our programs. Phosphite plays a big role in how we can suppress the attack of disease using what is naturally available in the soil and plant.  It is also a key to helping turf through the cold, damp, winter months. One of the stars that have come out of these years of experience is PolyPhosphite 30®.

We developed PolyPhosphite 30®, 0-0-27 to turn on a plant’s natural defense mechanism. A plant needs 3500-4000 ppm of Potassium in the soil to prepare itself for environmental stress and combat crown hydration as it breaks dormancy. Traditional Phosphite’s are degraded and converted back into phosphate too quickly. We wanted a product that will last longer and become that excellent source of potassium that’s needed. If our clients are paying for Phosphite then that’s what they should get.

Through our patented manufacturing process, we have developed a patented long-chain polyphosphite molecule. This molecule is active in the plant longer instead of just converting back into a phosphate. We knew that we had this ace up our sleeve for a while, but we needed to prove it.

In 2018 we started working with Dr. John Dempsey, an independent turf pathologist in Ireland, to research the impact PolyPhosphite 30® has on disease prevention.  More recently, in March of 2021, he conducted a Pink Snow Mold (Microdochium) reduction trial on Poa annua. He used PolyPhosphite 30® and another one of our products, GreenBlade™, which is a biologically active nutrient source that will help with photosynthesis and promote rapid recovery after winter stress and frost events. Both products were reapplied every 28 days from October 2020 to March 2021 with no use of fungicides or additional nutrients. The results are game-changing for our industry. 

This has been important for Dr. Dempsey as the use of fungicides has been increasingly discouraged in the UK and many compounds have recently been banned by the EU, which goes into effect in 2023. Knowing that this trend is only likely to continue and eventually be adopted on our side of the pond has bolstered our mission of zero infection with no inputs. The stage is set. Looking forward, we believe that our combined efforts and continued research will elevate programs for our clients, our industry, and the sport with healthy, high-performing, consistent playing surfaces.