St.Augustine Winter Dormancy

skoot_catDecember 4, 2007

I live in West Central Florida near the coast. Temp have been in the 80s in the day and 60s at night for the past 2 months. The top growth of my St.Augustine Floratam has considerably slowed down. I have only mowed once (@ 4.25") in the past month. In summer I would need to mow twice a week. I am currently watering once a week with 3/4" of water. I feed my lawn with SBM @ 12lbs per 1000sqft in August. Then my last feeding was in October with and Alfalfa Based fert - Luscious Lawn a Garden 3-1-5 @ 10lbs per 1000sqft.

Over the past month my entire lawn is uniformly turning brown/yellow. There is still lots of green, but not as dark green as it was in summer. Upon close inspection some of the grass blades are curled up and resemble straw, all others range form yellow, to light green, to green.

Is this normal for St.Augustine Floratam? Should I feed the lawn again?

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I think it's normal Palmetto stays green longer into winter. I've seen pictures of each side by side in the winter in florida and palmetto was still green and floratam was in semi dormant.

Sapphire is more similiar to Floratam and they are starting to turn lighter green while Palmetto is still green.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 1:03PM
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texas-weed(7A)

Sonds noraml to me. Do not fertlize with anything until spring. Basically SA needs 3 to 4 fertlizer applications per year during the active growing season starting in early spring when it starts growing.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 1:07PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Organically, it's okay to fertilize anytime of the year even during the dormant season. It's totally different than synthetic fertilizers. They just stay in the soil feeding the microbes through the dormant season. No big deal. Nothing is wasted. I don't look at organic fertilizer as feeding plants at all. It's all about feeding microbes in the soil which in turn help improve the soil, etc. Fungi and bacteria are the primary nitrogen that stays in place but you need protozoa and nematodes to help release those nitrogen. With synthetic fertilizer, bye bye nitrogen as it gets flushed out when it rains.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 2:47PM
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quirkyquercus

Sorry to say this, I know there are replies from more experienced voices however said voices reside in a place that gets "winter". Having lived in West Central Florida myself I can attest to the fact that I have never seen St.Frankenstein go dormant there. I would not put this to rest just yet but instead look for signs of pest or disease.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 5:03PM
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mikie_gw

If its brown and wilted it probably needs water, or you're giving it way too much water and you've got fungus.

I water all winter long as do my neighbors and we all have green lawns all year round. It does slow down growing quite a bit during the cold snaps but stays green and starts growing a bit during warm snaps.
Right now is prime runner time for me. Runners are growing quickly.

Not supposed to put down any fertilizer right now here as potential frost is less than three weeks away & even organic fertilizer gives a quick spurt of growth - and the new growth is easily burnt by a ground frost if it last more than a couple hours.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 5:35AM
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alex_7b(7b/8a)

"I am currently watering once a week with 3/4" of water."
Have you no conscience about wasting water? Once every two weeks should be enough over the winter in central FL, or let it go dormant when it's ready.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 6:45PM
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mikie_gw

Right now its Chilly Cool in the low 60's at night & watm/low 80's days. Most of my area use shallow well pumps for irrigation. Water under me is less than 10 foot down.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 8:22AM
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skoot_cat

Thanks everyone for the replies.

Lou: Do you feed your microbes through winter?

TW: I have fertilized exactly as you stated, thanks.

quirky: I do not believe it is either pest or disease as the entire lawn is the same color.

mikie: I am only watering when 1/2 to 3/4 of my lawn shows signs of wilt. (about once a week).

To further clarify. Its not completely brown, or even close. The lawn is still green, just not as dark green as it was during the growing season. (its a shade or 3 lighter) It has more of a green/light tan look to it. Being the lawn nut that I am, I notice even small changes in my lawns appearance.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 8:32AM
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quirkyquercus

Skootcat, I should have also included check watering, fertilizer or any other condition. I didn't mean to limit it just to pest or disease. As others have mentioned ST. Aug will slow way down and usually lose a little color but anything more than that and there's something else going on.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 8:57AM
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gamud(z7)

I have recently begun to question what causes dormancy in my SA. I live in metro Atlanta and my grass is still green. It's not growing but has retained it's color, while my neighbors Zoysia (and everyone elses Bermuda) has gone dormant. Are soil temps the only factor? What about the number of daylight hours? Water has been non existent here in the metro area, so the effects should be the same across the board. I'm sure fertilizing would be one variable, but what makes different grasses go dormant at different times in the same area?

GAmud

    Bookmark   December 6, 2007 at 3:17PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Skoot Cat - I fertilized my lawn last month so in that effect, I'm feeding microbes through the winter. I'm going to fertilize again in February which is in the winter so yes I fertilize in the winter. No big deal. Nothing is really wasted like synthetic fertilizer.

Gamud- most likely, you have more cold hardy variety of st augustine up there that can stay green longer than 'Floratam'. Each variety is obviously different. I have 3 different variety and I can tell you that they perform differently. One goes brown early, One still stays green, one had better drought tolerant, etc, etc,.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 9:52AM
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quirkyquercus

Actually I'd say that Gamud's grass is probably going to be more susceptible to death or injury as a result of it not going dormant. I would like to read of updates about how gamuds grass is doing though.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 1:08PM
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theseventhlegend

I have a couple brown patches in my ST. Augustine. I think it's burning from uneven fertlizing in that area. The rest looks mid to dark green still.

I was under-watering for the longest time so I bumped it up and started watering twice a week 1 1/2 - 2". Is it time to cut back watering in FL for the winter? This may be a dumb question but what's enough water this time a year? Reason I ask is cause my runners are doing very well and I want to keep them going. What's the best way to spread runners to open-sandy areas? Was using the chemical approach until summer, now switched to organic. Trying sugar and corn glutten.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 3:29PM
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gamud(z7)

Quirky
Why would the grass be more susceptible to death/damage from NOT going dormant? Freezing moisture in the green blades vs. dried dormant blades?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 3:35PM
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skoot_cat

I was under-watering for the longest time so I bumped it up and started watering twice a week 1 1/2 - 2"

Thats entirely too much water. At the very most you should apply 1" of water. Any more than that, is being wasted and is not benefiting the plant.

When the lawn needs water, you'll see spots in the lawn that turn bluish-gray, footprints that remain in the grass long after being made, and many leaf blades folded in half lengthwise. Apply only enough water to wet the soil in the rootzone. For Florida's sandy soils, 3/4 inch of water is generally sufficient. Do not water the lawn again until signs of wilt occur again. This technique works regardless of turfgrass species, soil type, season, or other environmental conditions.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 4:21PM
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alex_7b(7b/8a)

As the soil cools, nutrient uptake is reduced.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 6:45PM
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