New development in combination products for LCOs

March 22, 2019 -  By
Spreader (Photo: iStock.com/BanksPhotos)

Time Crunch When spring weather arrives later, lawn care operators have less time to complete lawn care services. (Photo: iStock.com/BanksPhotos)

Though the calendar in Anthony Goldsby’s Kansas City, Mo., office reads March 1, the weather outside — subzero temperatures with snow on the way — sure didn’t make it feel like March.

“From a business perspective, you just miss out on spring,” Goldsby says. “Last year’s weather was already bad enough. And now, it’s not looking like it’s going to warm up significantly in the next 30 days. It’s not pleasurable at all.”

Tony Goldsby, Ph.D., is a research agronomist for The Andersons. Last year’s truncated spring season in many parts of the country made work challenging not just for LCOs but also for companies like The Andersons that sell to lawn care companies.

Thankfully, combination products were designed for instances like this, helping LCOs who find themselves short on labor and now even shorter on time.

“If an LCO is not using a combination product, that LCO is going to have to go out more often and put down a straight NPK fertilizer, then go back and do a preemergent application,” Goldsby says. “By impregnating that fertilizer with a herbicide, you are essentially combining those steps. It makes it easier, and you can get more yards done.”

Jeremy Bigler, professional landscape channel manager for Lebanon Turf, echoes those comments.

“The big reason for (combination products) is time savings,” he says. “Not only are you reducing your labor, but you’re also doing two or three applications in one. With the restrictions of H-2B visas and finding good employees, you’re really limited in the time you have during the season. With these products, you’re able to maintain your book of business or even grow it with the same number of man-hours.”

A relatively new development in combination products that has both Bigler and Goldsby excited is the inclusion of Mesotrione in fertilizers to prevent weeds in newly seeded grass. With Tupersan (active ingredient siduron) losing its Environmental Protection Agency registration, Mesotrione — and the robust list of weeds it controls — has come around just in time.

“Our starter fertilizer with Mesotrione allows the grass to germinate but knocks out any broadleaf weeds,” Bigler says. “It had been in development for a couple years and just fully launched last year. The timing was just coincidentally right with siduron going away. The interesting thing is siduron had a much more narrow list of weeds it would control. (Mesotrione) has a nice list of about 33 weeds that it controls, so this has been a really strong product for us.”

Goldsby again points to the calendar when speaking of the benefits of Mesotrione.

“Ideally, from an agronomics perspective, we recommend you do your seeding in the fall,” he says. “But if that’s not possible, our 21-22-4 with Mesotrione is just a great product because you can put it down at the same time as you’re putting down your seed in the springtime or the summertime. You’re going to kill all those broadleaf weeds, and you’re going to have your starter fertilizer all in one product. This is a prime example of when you’d want to use a combination product.”

Goldsby, who was a researcher at Kansas State University early in his career, says it has been an exciting time in the industry for him and his colleagues, keeping up with advancements in fertilizers as they come out of development and become available to customers.

“In some regards, I’ve always done a lot of work with fertilizers,” he says. “It’s exciting to see the sustainability aspect of these products — we’re always trying to use less fertilizer while also increasing the productivity of the end user. We want to maximize the products, and the biggest thing from an end-user standpoint, it just makes things a little more simple.”

Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist of 2014 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 18 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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