Tips for Sod Farmers for
Getting Through the Dry Spell
Dry conditions are challenging for sod growers. Many draw their
water from surface water sources that are drying up. Those that
have no source of irrigation water may be forced to shut down their
harvesting operations. They may have to resort to purchasing sod
from growers with irrigation to fill orders. When there are widespread
dry conditions usually the demand for sod is less because those
installing sod don't have sufficient water to insure a successful
Growers should focus on irrigating the fields they hope to harvest
in the next few weeks. It is essential for growers who are still
able to irrigate to follow good water conservation practices during
times of water shortages. These include:
- Irrigate in the early morning preferably. There is less chance
of wind and lower evaporation rates. Early evening irrigation
of sod is not recommended because of the increased potential for
- Use rain gauges to apply the right amount of water.
- Keep an eye on the irrigation system to insure that the application
rate does not exceed the infiltration rate. The irrigation may
have to be cycled (on-off-on-off) to insure there is no runoff.
- Kentucky bluegrass requires 2.5 cm of water weekly to prevent
- If there is no rainfall and if it is feasible, sod that will
not be harvested this season or is slated to be harvested later
in the season would benefit from 1 cm of water every 3-4 weeks
to insure that there is no turf loss caused by a prolonged period
- Inspect dormant sod fields for insect activity. Feeding damage
from turf insects such as hairy chinch bug and bluegrass billbug
can be masked when turf is dormant and insect damaged turf will
not recover when the rains return.
For information on irrigating during water shortages, see OMAFRA Factsheet
How to Prepare for Irrigation During Water Shortages, Order No. 99-023.