Reaping the rewards of plant growth regulators

June 26, 2019 -  By
Lane Tredway

Lane Tredway

Lane Tredway wants lawn care operators (LCOs) to know that plant growth regulators (PGRs) offer benefits beyond just slowing the growth of turf and shrubs.

“The increasing focus across all segments of the turf industry is the efficiency of management in terms of labor and inputs such as water and fertilizer,” says Tredway, technical services manager for Syngenta. “That is where a PGR can really differentiate itself by helping to reduce mowing frequency, increase drought tolerance and improve the efficiency of turf management.

He adds, “PGRs remain a niche tool but they don’t necessarily have to be. They could be used more broadly than they were.”

Tredway says one reason PGRs see limited use among LCOs is because lawn care and maintenance providers are often two separate entities.

“The applicator is not going to reap the benefits of reduced mowing,” Tredway says. “But PGRs aren’t just about mowing frequency — they bring added benefits like improved density, turf quality and drought tolerance, so there are other ways LCOs can sell the value directly to their customers and make it part of the overall strategy of what they can do for a lawn.”

Nate Moses

Nate Moses

Nate Moses agrees. The president and CEO of Precision Landscape Management in Greenville, S.C., a $2.5 million company that provides 50 percent installation, 30 percent maintenance and 20 percent lawn and shrub care services to a 95 percent residential clientele, uses PGRs because he has found they improve the overall health and vitality of plant material.

“We first started testing PGRs about five or six years ago but weren’t happy with the results,” Moses says. “About three years ago, we realized that PGRs were getting more advanced by actually changing the DNA of the plant to not only grow slower but to also grow healthier.”

Moses uses PGRs on both turf and shrubs. He says turf treated with PGRs is thicker and healthier, resulting in reduced clippings, thatch and need for bagging. On shrubs, he sees a decreased need for pruning, thicker leaves and deeper roots. By using PGRs, Moses has been able to dictate his pruning schedule. His crews typically do the first prune in March when the plant starts to grow, they apply a PGR and then they only need to perform light maintenance for the remainder of the year.

“Pruning usually has to be done during the busiest time of the year, so manpower is limited,” he says. “It now takes way less effort to keep the plants looking good. PGRs open up a lot of benefits when used correctly.”

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