Fertilize Cool-season Grasses in February
Cool season pasture and hay fields like brome and fescue respond very well to added nitrogen. They can also respond well to phosphorus and potassium if a soil test indicates those elements are short in the soil.
To make the best use of your nitrogen fertilizer, it’s important that roots have access as soon as plants start to come out of dormancy in the spring. Because this usually happens the first part of March, fertilizers should be applied by the end of February or before.
Ammonium nitrate and urea are the two most common nitrogen fertilizers in the area. They both perform equally well when applied during this time of year with cooler weather and soil temperatures. If applied later in the year, brome and fescue will have missed some of the benefits of the additional nitrogen in their earlier growth. As temperatures warm in late spring, combined with windy drying soil conditions, some of the urea fertilizer can be lost into the atmosphere as ammonia gas. That’s not a problem with ammonium nitrate.
The bottom line, if you haven’t already, apply your spring cool season grass fertilizer as soon as possible.
Free soil testing for Johnson County residents
And if you haven’t taken a soil test in a while, there’s still time to do that as well. Soil sampling instructions are available on our web site at http://www.johnson.k-state.edu/crops-livestock/agriculture-soil-testing.html