From Johnson’s Garden Center:
It looked like a checkerboard lawn at the Kansas State University turf trials. Dr. John Pair was doing research on turf type fescue lawns for south central Kansas just south of Wichita.
The prominent turf species had been K-31 Tall Fescue - a narrower blade plant than regular tall fescue, which was introduced into North America from Europe in the late 1800s. In 1943, the University of Kentucky released the variety, Kentucky 31 and fescue establishment rapidly spread throughout the eastern United States. Genetic improvement of tall fescue as a turfgrass species began with the release of 'Rebel' turf-type tall fescue from Rutgers University in the early 1970s. As compared to the early varieties, 'Rebel' exhibited a darker green color, higher density, and the ability to tolerate lower mowing heights.
Dr. Pair's research was to determine the seeding rate AND fertilizing rate for an optimum lawn. Typically K-31 was planted at 10 lbs. of seed for every 1,000 sq. ft. With the introduction of Rebel and it's denser and less clumping growth habit, he knew that less seed was needed, but how much less, IF the proper feeding was done at the proper time. Small plots, about 2' X 4' were planted with 2, 4, and 6 lbs. seeding rate. Then the different fertilizer rates were given to each seeding rate. Fertilizer rates of 2, 3, and 4 lbs. of Nitrogen per 1,000 were applied to each plot. What Dr. Pair's research determined was that the lower seed rates looked as good or better than higher rates WHEN fertilizer rates of 4 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. was applied in the fall.
ferti-lome has taken this information and used it in formulation of their Winterizer Lawn Food, which was especially made for the Kansas market. With an analysis of 25-0-6, 25% of its 20 lb. bag is Nitrogen, or 5 lbs. Meaning the 20 lb. bag applied to a 5,000 sq. ft. lawn will give the lawn 1 lb. of Nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. Three applications in the fall and using ferti-lome For All-Season plus Crabgrass Preventer will give the lawn close to that 4 lbs. of Nitrogen that Dr. Pair's research showed was needed for fescue lawns in our region.
Since that day, almost 50 years ago, when Rebel was introduced, later generations of turf type fescue varieties are available today, giving us improved genetics for our lawns. The research from years ago still stands correct - fertilize our fescue lawns in the fall for a great looking lawn.
Pix by Encyclopedia of Alabama.