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“Mini-Drought” in Oklahoma Lawns Affecting Fescue Seeding

Although we are still ahead in annual rainfall in Oklahoma this year, we’ve not had significant rainfall for over 7 weeks. This comes at a critical time when seeding fescue, as a moist seedbed is necessary for proper germination. It’s pretty simple…. without water, seeds don’t germinate, so supplemental irrigation is vital when Mother Nature does not cooperate. We recommend keeping the seedbed very moist for at least 10 days, and then cutting back somewhat as the seedlings germinate.

After about 3 weeks, you will see tiny seedlings popping up from the soil, about 2” high in most cases. Each tiny seedling, as it matures slowly into fall and next spring, will grow more shoots and leaves, become larger, and eventually become a bunch-type grass with about 8-15 shoots and leaves. So don’t expect your fescue turf to look thick and mature after a few weeks. Be patient, and allow the seedlings to grow into mature grass plants, as they will if conditions are right. Too many seedlings can be bad for the turf, leading to increased competition for water and turf disease. So it’s OK to see some bare ground now. By next early spring, the seedlings will really thicken up and mature, leading to a thick consistent turf. It just takes time!

The key is watering! Even with good germination, these seedlings don’t have a deep extensive root system this fall, so continue to provide deep soakings, especially without any rainfall. There is nothing that is quite as good as some of these all day fall rain events, soaking the soil with good rainfall. When those are scarce or don’t happen, homeowners must irrigate several times per week to provide the necessary water for growth.

This is the last week for seeding fescue. While one can often still have germination into late October, there is just not much time before winter sets in slowing down the growth of seedlings. With this, you’ll need to be even more patient in allowing for the turf to mature next spring.

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