CHEMICAL UPDATE: PLANT GROWTH REGULATORS

Plant growth regulators, or PGRs, provide several important benefits, growth reduction being just one (albeit the primary one). PGRs are becoming increasingly popular as turf and landscape managers discover ways to integrate these products into their maintenance programs.

Turf uses PGRs reduce mowing requirements, which most turf managers understand. However, PGRs can perform many other functions. For example:

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- PGRs can suppress turf growth during overseeding to give the new seedlings a quick start.

- Some PGRs inhibit or suppress unsightly Poa annua seedheads.

- Similarly, PGRs can eliminate tall seedheads in some roadside grasses (which, in some cases, might be the only reason to mow).

- PGRs can suppress growth of Poa annua more than that of desirable turfgrasses, giving them a competitive advantage within a treated stand.

- "Chemical edging" with PGRs controls growth of turf around tree trunks, landscape fixtures and edges, which can significantly reduce trimming.

Some PGRs also can improve the overall health and vigor of their turf for better color and stress tolerance.

Ornamental uses PGRs provide some benefits for ornamentals comparable to those of turf PGRs, such as trimming reduction. PGRs also can eliminate messy and hazardous fruit from trees and suppress sucker and sprout growth, among other effects.

Integrating PGRs into your program Integrating PGRs into your program requires you to carefully examine the labor you expect to save and balance that with the cost of the application. PGRs are not the answer to every labor problem, but they can be a great benefit in some situations. A thorough understanding of your operations is necessary before you can make such a determination. An application to a roadside that saves one mowing cycle might not make much sense. But if you can eliminate two mowing cycles, that may be a different story.

In many cases, PGRs can provide results impractical or unobtainable in other ways. For example, removing mistletoe from trees, suppressing growth of existing turf to aid establishment of overseeded grass, or preventing undesirable fruit from forming on trees. In these situations, direct savings in labor and money is not the aim, so much as achieving a specific agronomic goal.

The following tables list PGRs available for turf and landscape-ornamental use. Use them for preliminary planning only. They are not a substitute for label instructions, which you must read and follow whenever you use a PGR, as with any other pesticide.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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