The Lockdown – Lowdown Conclusion

As we’ve reached the end of the Lockdown Trial I’ve concluded that, given the same situation again for a period of low intensity management, I’d apply as much Primo Maxx as the label would allow me too.

But, it’s also given a fascinating insight and explanation as to why, under normal conditions, that’s probably not best practice for a typical Spring.

So what did we set out to learn and what did we learn?

Can we use Primo to reduce maintenance in fine turf?

Yes – By max’ing out the Primo Maxx II label (0.4L/Ha applied every 7 days) we achieved high levels of growth suppression. At its highest we achieved around 55% suppression, compared to untreated. The same benefits, to a lesser degree, were seen in all the Primo applications.

Growth suppression

Can we do it Safely?

Yes. This trial really tested Primo Maxx to its extreme. We applied it:

  • With no additional Nitrogen (which is standard practice)
  • At the highest rate permitted by the label
  • At the tightest application windows permitted by the label
  • Earlier in the season than you would normally apply
  • Through conditions of unseasonably high temperatures and low rainfall, with limited irrigation.

And we saw no phytotoxic effects and less than half a point difference in turf quality ratings between the control plot and the highest rate.

Would we see any benefits other than reduced growth??

During the period of low growth in early Lockdown, and higher heights of cut – the turf quality benefits normally associated with Primo Maxx were minimal. In fact the highest levels of Primo showed a slight detrimental effect to turf quality (That’s OK – we would never recommend 0.4l/Ha every 7 days in the spring anyway).

However when we’ve moved into the middle of the season, we were seeing some great turf quality improvements from all the Primo treated plots against the untreated – which by the end, with a reduced height of cut to restore playing surface conditions, were going into a nosedive.

We’ve seen that same pattern on turf colour as well; increased levels of Primo has resulted in better colour response. Combine the turf quality and colour response together, and you can see why Primo becomes a mainstay in turf managers programmes.

The benefits of using a GDD model

We’ve learnt:

  • We can smooth out the levels of growth suppression
  • Reduce the number of applications but target them at the best time
  • That Bingley is the probably the coldest place in the UK!

I’ve also learnt that now we have created the GDD tool on our website, GDD applications have become possible for all turf managers. For those of you that are on the first steps on your journey into GDD I’m creating a Beginners guide to using GDD to time your Primo applications. Watch this space….

What would I do if faced with that situation again?

Simple – Max out my Primo applications and reduce my cutting to the minimum I could get away with.

Under the Lockdown environment – spraying greens would be at least as quick as cutting them, if not quicker. By spraying regularly I could save significant labour and lose nothing.

It’s certainly not best practice for creating consistent putting surfaces, but there was no downside and consistent putting surface was not the objective of this trial.

For me, it has been really valuable to validate the potential for the GDD interval model to give more consistent growth suppression under UK conditions. We’ll continue to do more research on that and bring you the conclusions through the season.

And of course that’s been the other huge learn from Lockdown. That we can run a real-time turf management trial and bring you answers and solutions as they happen, to assist you with informed decision making day-today.

Read about all the results of the Lockdown Turf Trials, week by week here.

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