PACE Turf - Turfgrass Information Center

Turf Guidelines

University research location climate appraisals

University research results are valuable tools for developing turfgrass management plans. One way to bring more confidence in application of university research data to your site is to understand the type of climate (cool season, warm season or transition) each research location is located in. This PACE Update provides climate appraisal information for most of the major universities to allow you to compare your climate to each of the university research locations. Compare the GP Avatars (Growth Potential Avatars) for each university's location below to your own, provided on the PACE Turf Weather page. For more in-depth comparisons, you can also compare the Climate Appraisals, nutrient plans and normal weather patterns for each university vs. those provided for your location on your PACE Turf Weather page. In addition to reviewing climate impacts when reviewing research on variety trials or disease control practices, you can compare experimental nutritional inputs to the expected turfgrass use in the nutrient plans at each location to help better evaluate the value of these models and how they might apply to your location.


GP Avatar Location Climate US or Metric Nutrient plan C3 US or Metric Nutrient plan C4 US or Metric
University of Arizona US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Arkansas US Metric US Metric US Metric
UC Riverside US Metric US Metric US Metric
Colorado State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Georgia US Metric US Metric US Metric
Purdue University US Metric US Metric US Metric
Iowa State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Maryland College Park US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Massachusetts Amherst US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Michigan US Metric US Metric US Metric
Universiy of Nebraska US Metric US Metric US Metric
Rutgers University US Metric US Metric US Metric
New Mexico State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
North Carolina State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
Ohio State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Oregon US Metric US Metric US Metric
Pennsylvania State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
Clemson University US Metric US Metric US Metric
Texas A&M University College Station US Metric US Metric US Metric
Utah State University US Metric US Metric US Metric
Virginia Tech US Metric US Metric US Metric
University of Wisconsin US Metric US Metric US Metric

MLSN Guidelines

Increased economic and environmental pressures have caused many turfgrass managers to re–assess the way you manage turf. With fertilizers as one of the bigger inputs, we felt that it was time to review and revise our current soil guidelines to reflect these changes. The result is the "Minimum Level for Sustainable Nutrition" (MLSN) soil guidelines, a new, more sustainable approach to managing soil nutrient levels that can help you to decrease inputs and costs, while still maintaining desired turf quality and playability levels. Used in conjunction with Climate Appraisals and Growth Potential, annual fertilizer needs can be estimated. 

Working together with Dr. Micah Woods of the Asian Turfgrass Center, the guidelines were produced through review of key soil nutrient data from thousands of turf soil samples. Based on our evaluations, we determined that in many cases, guidelines could be safely lowered without a dramatic impact on turf quality or playability.

Since their introduction in 2012, the MLSN guidelines have been adopted by turf managers around the world, who have been surprised to find just how "low they can go" as they more precisely target the nutrient levels that the turf needs.

Scientific basis for the MLSN Guidelines:

Turf management articles about the MLSN Guidelines:

Websites with more information about the MLSN Guidelines:

Top Ten Turf Monitoring Tools

OK, so we couldn’t stop at 10. Once we got started listing tools that we have found to be effective, that are easy to use and to acquire, and that are relatively inexpensive, we found at least 15 turf monitoring tools that we think should be in every superintendent’s arsenal.

This information was presented in the "Answers on the Hour" Session at the February, 2011 Golf Industry Show in Orlando. For those of you that didn’t attend the session, please feel free to download and print this handout (131 KB pdf) for further information.

Intrigued by the weird designs on the back of the handout? These QR codes are a type of bar code that can be rapidly scanned with your smart phone’s camera to gain immediate access to a website. The codes on the back of the handout correspond to the websites of each of the manufacturers listed on the front of the handout as sources for the tools that we recommend.

Although some phones have built in QR readers, iPhone users will need to download a QR application (usually free or under 2 dollars). To find out what you need for your phone, just do an online search for the model of your phone, followed by the words QR reader.

Not a PACE Turf member yet?

For more information on how PACE Turf’s member website, emails and videos can help you get the answers you need, please take the tour of PACE Turf member services, visit our home page  or read what other turf managers have to say about the benefits of membership.

How we review products and practices

Selecting which product or practice will perform the best for you is one of the most important — and also one of the most difficult— decisions that turf managers face. The fact that some materials are marketed with little or no data, or with misleading data, complicates your decision ten-fold.

One of our main goals is to supply PACE Turf members with science–based guidance on the efficacy of turf products, practices and management strategies. Whether we are reviewing the performance of gray leaf spot control agents, sod webworm products or strategies for moss control, we always provide a listing of the options that will perform best, in our analysis.

But how do we determine which strategies to recommend, and which to omit from our publications and presentations? The internal guidelines shown below were developed here at PACE Turf over the past 30 years, and, because they are based in the scientific method, they give us confidence that the recommendations that we pass along to you are as useful and dependable as possible. The guidelines below may also be useful to each of you in product selection decisions, as well as in communicating to vendors the standards that you will use to evaluate the products that they are promoting.

PACE Turf internal guidelines for development of turf management recommendations:

  1. Each research trial must have a detailed protocol that describes the objectives of the study, as well as detailed materials and methods that include statistical analytical methods and experimental design parameters.
  2. Treatments must be replicated and include appropriate non–treated controls. In addition, current method(s) of choice should be included for purposes of comparison.
  3. Trials should be conducted, supervised or coordinated by a qualified independent researcher or consultant (university or extension researchers, Certified Crop Advisors, Certified Professional agronomists, Certified Soil Scientists, independent researchers with a minimum of a B.S. in agricultural or related sciences). Publication record in peer reviewed science journals is a plus. Unknown researchers are required to supply a resume and references with their research reports.
  4. Raw data must be provided by researchers to PACE Turf upon request. PACE Turf may re–analyze raw data to confirm conclusions.
  5. The product or practice should be tested in multiple locations (a minimum of 3) and, if feasible, in multiple environmental regions.
  6. Products that are selected for use in PACE Turf management recommendations must show a substantial positive effect. A statistically significant response alone is not sufficient, as it does not necessarily show that the product will provide a useful and practical solution for PACE turf clients.
  7. Data cannot be "cherry–picked" so that only favorable data is provided for review, and negative data is withheld.

IPM Planning Tools

IPM Planning can be a tedious task. However, once your first IPM Plan has been created, the major work has been done. The information provided below was developed for the first version of the GCSAA IPM Template. That planning template has not been supported by the GCSAA, but the information below is stil useful. We will be reviewing some of these resources and updating the documents throughout the year. We hope this information will assist you with development of a site-specific IPM plan for your location.

The spreadsheets, references and procedures below were developed, with support from a GCSAA grant, to assist superintendents in creating an IPM Plan for their golf courses. The project was completed and attempts to update the project have failed. However, the template draft and instructions below are still useful when developing an IPM plan for your facility.

Instructions for completing the IPM Template (291 KB pdf)

Pest, Soil and Water Management References (1.7 MB pdf)

The following forms are available for use in constructing your  IPM Template

Electronic entry forms:

Printable forms:

Examples of completed forms for IPM Planner, Pest Worksheet, Climate Appraisal and Budgeting Worksheet

Turf growth potentials: a tool with many uses

We developed the growth potential model to explain myriad of ways in which weather impacts turf growth. The model considers turf growth to be good when the growth potential (GP) is between 50% and 100% (the best possible growth occurs at a GP of 100%). However, when weather conditions are either too hot or too cold for optimal turf growth, the GP falls below 50%, and turf becomes progressively more stressed. When the GP falls to 10% or lower, growth is extremely limited. We have listed a few of the many uses of growth potentials below.

  • Timing application for chemical transition accelerators (Kerb, Revolver, Monument, Manor, Blade, TranXit): Warm-season turf GP should be 50% or higher at the time of application in order to ensure that sufficient warm-season turf cover is present.
  • Scheduling aggressive management practices (aerification) or stressful events (tournaments): Turf growth potential should be as high as possible (greater than 50%) and on the rise when stressful events are scheduled. This allows for the greatest recovery potential of the turf.
  • Explaining why cool- or warm-season turf is performing poorly (or well).
  • After a heat spell, predicting how long will it take for cool-season turf to begin active growth again.

Table of growth potential at different average air temperatures (pdf).
Table of growth potentials in selected US Cities (pdf).

Turf Management Guidelines

Turf growth potential in selected U.S. locations

Turf growth potential at different average air temperatures

Quick test for soil nitrate

EC (electrical conductivity) monitoring for soil salinity

Soil Guidelines and demystifying soil analyses

Soil Chloride and Sulfur Guidelines

Tissue Guidelines

Water Guidelines

Recycled Water

Management Planning Excel spreadsheet

Pest Worksheet Excel spreadsheet

Quick test for soil nitrate

We have developed a quick, easy, on-site test that can detect excessive levels of soil nitrates. Although this test does not replace analytical testing, it provides values that are rough estimates of nitrate levels, and should be a useful and rapid diagnostic tool.

Materials needed:

  • Hach water test strips for nitrate/nitrite (Cat. # 27454-25, Hach Company, PO Box 389, Loveland, CO 80539. Phone: 800-227-4224. A bottle of 25 strips is $16.29 as of July, 2010.
  • Small beaker or container
  • Tablespoon
  • Soil from problem area and from nearby area of healthy turf
  • Notebook for recording data


  1. Mix equal volumes of soil and tap water (for example, 1 tablespoon of each) in a small container and stir thoroughly. Allow the soil to settle for 1 minute
  2. Dip the test strip into the soil suspension.
  3. Allow the strip to develop for 1 minute
  4. Lightly rinse the strip with water to remove soil
  5. Compare the color on the tip of the strip to the nitrate nitrogen color chart on the test strip container. Write down the ppm value that you think is closest to the color you see on the strip. This value must be converted to obtain the nitrate concentration (in parts per million) of your soil, using the formula below:

    (Dipstick value X 1.5) + 2.9 = Soil nitrate concentration (ppm)

    For example, assume that the color on your dipstick indicates roughly 15 ppm nitrate, as it does in this photo. Remember -- the dipstick value needs to be converted to one that is accurate for soil nitrate! The soil nitrate concentration is therefore = (15 X 1.5) + 2.9 = 24.9.

  6. If the final value is over 20 ppm as it is in the example above, nitrogen applications of all types should be halted until levels are well below 20 ppm. If possible, leach the area to help bring nitrogen levels down more rapidly.

Keep in mind that the dipstick test has several limitations, including:

  • It does not test for ammonium levels -- only for nitrate levels. Therefore, even if you have high ammonium levels in your soils, you will get a low reading from the dipstick.
  • The test is designed to detect an excess of nitrogen, but it will not detect nitrogen deficits. To determine whether your soils are lacking in nitrogen, the soils should be sent to an analytical laboratory.
  • The values you get with this test are rough estimates, at best. For more accurate readings, soils should be sent to an analytical lab for testing.
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