During the heat of summer, sod quality takes a dive during transport, storage and transplant stages. A field of Kentucky bluegrass can look great at the sod farm, but sod that lays stacked up on a pallet for too long takes a beating from heat build-up. As an alternative to refrigeration, researchers at Virginia Tech (City, State) took a biological approach to the problem of sod shelf-life quality decline by evaluating products that affect the turfgrass's hormone balance in an attempt to increase sod tolerance to storage stress. Propiconazole (Banner Maxx, Syngenta), seaweed extract (provided by Acadia Seaplants Ltd.) and humic acid (provided by Plant Wise Biostimulants) were applied to a 3-year-old stand of “Georgetown” Kentucky bluegrass. Propiconazole inhibits giberillic acid (the plant hormone that stimulates cell elongation) synthesis. Humic acid contains root-stimulating plant hormones, indole — 3-acetic acid (IAA) and polyamines, and a complex of cytokinins and indole — 3-acetic acid (IAA) is found in seaweed extract.

Two weeks after application, the sod was heated to 104 degrees Farenheit and held at this temperature for up to 96 hours. Sod was then transplanted and evaluated for rooting, visual quality and photosynthetic efficiency.

Foliar application of seaweed extract plus humic acid, propiconazole or a combination of seaweed extract plus humic acid with a low dose of propiconazole significantly improved photosynthetic efficiency of the transplanted sod. All treatments increased rooting and decreased visual turf injury as well.

For more on sod installation, turn to "Instant Turfgrass" on page C10.

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