Plant growth regulators

Plant growth regulators, or PGRs, perform a variety of functions in turf and landscapes. They are hardly new, but their use in the turf and ornamental industry is growing. A few applicators are even specializing in PGRs. Landscape managers are finding that PGRs can save them significant amounts of labor and achieve certain goals not otherwise possible.

Turf uses The obvious value of PGRs in turf is that they reduce mowing requirements. This, of course, can be of tremendous value, particularly during times when turf is growing rapidly and it's difficult to keep up with mowing.

However, turf managers are finding that PGRs can fill other need-needs that cannot be addressed any other way. For example:

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

* Some PGRs can reduce 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 differentially suppress growth, giving desirable turfgrass a competitive advantage over Poa annua within a treated stand.

* "Chemical edging" with PGRs controls growth of turf around tree trunks, landscape fixtures and edges, which can significantly reduce trimming. Turf managers also are finding that PGRs can improve the overall health and vigor of their turf, resulting in better color, improved stress tolerance and perhaps better root development.

Ornamental uses Ornamental PGRs provide some benefits comparable to those of turf PGRs, such as trimming reduction and improvement in overall health and vigor. PGRs also allow grounds care professionals to eliminate messy or hazardous fruit from trees, and suppress sucker and sprout growth. Finally, ornamental PGRs can improve root or branch development.

Are PGRs right for you? Economic success with PGRs requires you to carefully account for the amount of labor you will save (which, after all, equals money) and balance that with the cost of the application. On this basis, PGRs are not always an economical choice, but they often are.

The following tables are a general guide to 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. These products are classified by the EPA as pesticides, and must be handled with the same degree of caution you would use for any pest control product.

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