I had the chance last week to lie around the beaches of south Maui, and that gave me plenty of time to check out how great the paspalum looks on the lawn areas at the hotels and golf courses, come up with some new things to write about overseeding, and assess my horrible college football picks so far this season.  I know I have covered the basics of seeding and fertilizing, but since these steps are so vital to the success of a winter lawn I am going to tell you how to push the growth and fight off the loss of color when the frost hits.

Your grass should and probably looks simply amazing right now if you have dropped seed in the last couple weeks, but how do you keep the color in the lawn?  If your lawn has grown up to a 1 ½”- 1 ¾” you should have made your first mowing to the turf. Remember you are not trying to get aggressive with this first cut but simply give it a haircut to help clean up the grass as it starts to tiller.  Before you make the first mowing of the fall season it is important to be mowing a dry lawn.  I am not saying to dry it down to the point of wilting the plant, but make sure you get an afternoon cut on the grass when no water has hit it for about 5 hours.  You can always water it right after a little heavier to get it to bounce back but you do not want to leave footprints, tire ruts, and tracks all through your freshly grown in seed.  I have read several places to wait a month before you make the first cut, but the fact is that is too long and you will end up scalping the grass down in order to get it to your desired heights.  The grass needs to be mowed to reduce leaf tissue and allow for sunlight and water to get back into the ground so the grass can thrive.

If you have not dropped seed yet there is absolutely nothing to worry about because the weather is perfect right now for overseeding. It doesn’t get much better for overseed than 85 during the day and 65-70 at night.  Your window for overseeding is any time before the first frost of the year with the optimal time being between now and early November.  If it gets too cold it will take the seed longer to germinate and may come up a little sparser than if you were to go during the peak weeks.   Now I am clearly not a weather forecaster or sports prognosticator, but I still like to think I know what I’m talking about.  Remember that you want to use 8-10 pounds per 1000 SF of perennial ryegrass seed (BOBSeed), and if you go later in the fall you will want to be around 10-15 pounds per 1000 SF.   As you get later in the season a topper is going to be more important because it will help keep the heat in the plant and allow for quicker germination.

Now for everyone that dropped seed about 10-14 days ago you are seeing that flush of bright green ryegrass popping and your first mow has been made to the turf, but now is the time to push your lawn.  Newly seeded turf loves to get fertilized with high phosphorus products such as 11-52-0, 15-15-15, 16-20-0.  These products are going to directly help with root and shoot growth during the grow-in of the turf.  Now don’t get carried away and put more than 1 pound of phosphorus per 1000 SF per application, but give it a healthy dose.  For those that don’t remember how to figure out how much of each nutrient is in a bag of fertilizer simply know that the number on the bag is the percentage of each.  The bag will always read in nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium and all minors will be listed on the back.  So an 11-52-0 is 52 percent phosphorus and therefore in a 50 pound bag there is 26 total pounds of phosphorus. In order to put down 1 pound of phosphorus per 1000 SF you would need just less than 2 pounds of total product (100/52 = about 2).  You should mark off an area of 1000 SF (100×10) put 1 pound of product in the spreader and see if you can spread the fertilizer over the entire area without having extra or running short.  This will help you determine if you need to open the spreader setting up a little or turn it down to apply the correct amount of fertilizer. This is not an exact science but it will get you closer than most of the bag recommended settings.

Watering two week old ryegrass is still extremely important, but you should have changed your watering schedule to 1-2x daily.  If you can get away with one 15 minutes cycle first thing in the morning without afternoon dry out then you should continue with that route. If you need to get a few minutes on the lawn in the afternoon because of high winds or higher than normal temperatures it will not hurt the grass. Once you are passed the one month mark you should be watering your turf no more than once every two-three days.  If you continue to water your lawn daily you will never grow your root system and it will be a struggle to make your grass ready for the cold.

Now when your grass has been in for a month to a month and a half it is time to give your lawn another really good push before the frost arrives and starts to take away some of that bright green color. You can use calcium nitrate 15.5-0-0, ammonium nitrate, or a balanced fertilizer such as 21-7-14 to give your lawn that extra push of growth. You may hate me for a few weeks because you are mowing every few days, but you will be happy when you look around the neighborhood after the first hard frost and see that only your lawn has held onto its color. Now you can use granular in the winter months but I am a biggest fan of spraying foliar fertilizers such as potassium nitrate, ironite, ferrous sulfate, or seasonal booster 7-7-7.  I will get into all of those in a later blog, but in the meantime push your lawn while the growing is good.

Tip of the Week: Don’t worry about the birds eating all of your seed.  At the recommended rate you are putting down the perfect amount of seed and unless you have birds camped on your lawn 24/7 you will not see a difference. There is nothing that is going to keep the birds away from the seed so don’t get sold on the miracle product that will help protect it.

College Football Week 6

While I did spend a couple Saturday’s in Maui, I definitely got my football viewing in. I always make sure to plan my days around the big football game of the day and I make sure that I never miss a play of the Wolverines. Over the last two weeks I can say that I wished I would have missed both games, but unfortunately they showed that offense beats poor teams and when you have a nonexistent defense you will rarely beat a good team.

I am going to put those two losses aside and concentrate on the team to the south of Michigan. I only find them interesting to talk about when they have a loss so to recap the Buckeyes held that coveted number 1 spot for one week and then there true colors showed as they were knocked around the field by a better Wisconsin team.  If you are a Sun Devil fan you have to feel good about your team as you previously took Wisconsin down to the wire but lost because your kicker couldn’t make an extra point.  There is nothing better to see than a Buckeye loss, but I would imagine that many of you are also saying a Cornhusker loss works as well.  Somehow they were able to creep up into the top 5 (probably because of their schedule) but as usual showed that the smaller bodies they recruit will always struggle against the bigger stronger teams like a Texas. This is a lesson they will learn week after week next year when they move into the real conference known as the Big 10 (soon to be 12).

The BCS standings are now out and all that does is give us as fans another reason to complain that there is no playoff system. I am not sure how a computer can decide what team is better than the next even if the human element does account for 2/3rd’s of the poll. I know it is suppose to analyze the data and put all the polls together to form one ultimate poll but all it does is cause anger and confusion.  How can a team that is number 3 in one poll be #1 in the BCS. I know that style points don’t go into the computer rankings but when a team like Oregon averages 60 points a game and has the most talent on it, there is no reason you would put someone ahead of them, especially Oklahoma.

Oklahoma plays in a weak conference and has shown itself to do the same thing year after year.  Where are the Auburn Tigers in the equation? Can you honestly tell me that TCU, Boise St or Oklahoma is going to go out and beat this team right now? I do agree with Michigan State’s standing at #7 but there best win has come against an average Michigan team so as they get into the meat of their schedule we will see if they are for real. I am not clear how Wisconsin could pound OSU last weekend but they are still ranked 4 spots below them. If anyone can tell me how this computer system works I would love to hear it.

Now I didn’t pick any games last week because of my vacation, but I am getting back to it this week.  Just to keep track of my record so far I am 5-5 heading into this week and I am prepared to get my record back in the positive column.

Oregon wins big over UCLA Thursday night in Eugene. There is no stopping the team with 800 uniform combinations right now. Take Oregon to crush the Bruins 65-21.

Michigan State is still playing on the emotional high of returning Coach Dantonio and this week this will struggle with the spread attack of Northwestern, but will prevail by a touchdown. Look for a closer game than most experts will pick 24-17.

Auburn vs. LSU – I am not sure how the LSU Tigers have jumped so high in the polls without an offense and an average SEC defense. They do have speed on the defensive side of the ball but I don’t see how they are going to stop the high flying Auburn attack. Take Auburn to win 24-21.

Nebraska over Oklahoma State – There is no way that the Huskers get embarrassed for the second week in a row and the black shirts are going to come out fired up to stop the Oklahoma State offense. NU wins 42-21 over a mediocre Oklahoma State team.

Now for my two absolute locks of the week….  These are big games and most people like to stay away from picking the big games, but trust me when I tell you that Oklahoma will be upset by Missouri and Washington is going to hand U of Arizona their second loss of the season. This is not going to be a good weekend for the Stoops brothers as Oklahoma will lose their #1 spot and UA will most likely drop to the bottom of the top 25 after getting crushed by Washington. I know they are playing down in Tucson but let’s remember what UA has taught us in the past and that is they can only win on the big stage once per year. They seem to get that token win and then lose to a team that they should clearly beat. This is a good coached Washington team with an excellent QB in Jake Locker that will give the Wildcats fits.

Please read my past blogs for more tips, and if you have questions, please hit the “Ask Jay” button to the top right of this page.  Remember, you can still get BOBSeed here in Arizona.  Find out where here http://www.westernsod.com/bobseed.php