Salicylic acid is a phytohormone and a key component of a plant’s development, growth, photosynthesis, transpiration, and is a part of the natural signaling system as an integral layer in the plant’s pathogen defense mechanism, or Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR).
In lay terms, it has been discovered that plants’ internal pathways that are vital to healing and plants natural health defense system includes a vital molecule called salicylic acid, or SA. SA is a key component of the plant’s natural healing process and defense mechanism, or SAR (Systemic Acquired Resistance). To put it in simple terms: it helps defend against what could make a plant sick or stressed and helps the healing processes if an infection occurs. SA contributes to the fight of abiotic stresses like heat, cold, wind, drought, and salinity imbalances as well as foreign pathogens.
Plants can recognize pathogens and react in a manner like our immune system, releasing stored SA to the infected cells along with the adjacent cells. Plants exchange gasses (photosynthesis) through pores in the plants leaves and stems. The surrounding guard cells regulate the opening and closing, along with the size of these pores. SA will instigate and assist in the rapid closing of these pores when pathogens are recognized.
Turfgrass possesses neither the ability to recognize potential invading pathogens nor store excess SA therefore leaving it susceptible diseases due to the lack of a built-up immunity. In fact, in turfgrass, it is produced after the plant is infected to battle the disease. The artificial application of SA will assist in the instigation of SAR providing the necessary components to both suppress as well as help fight diseases more efficiently.
Stress from high traffic and low mowing heights on sand-based turfgrass will require certain nutrient supplements to strengthen the leaf tissue. SA applications on Sports turf may provide similar benefits as applying seaweed extracts to increase balance the antioxidant system of the grass. The combination of the two can greatly improve the soil nutrients while increase plant’s tolerances to internal and external stresses and promote post-infection healing.
A fungicide program is standard practice in the health and maintenance of greens. However, adding an SAR booster like a product that contains salicylic acid can significantly improve the health of your green by strengthening its pathogen defenses. The results of numerous tests also concurred that the application including SA will help in the heat stress management of Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine and Tall Fescue.
While golf course turfgrass health is one of the most significant costs involved in course management, building the immune system of your turfgrass can be a cost-efficient way of dealing with the inevitable pathogens and heat stresses – build stronger, healthier shoots and leaves that can fend off potential disease and withstand the summer heatwave, also potentially shortening the disease cycle if they do become infected.
Be certain to check the suggested SA ratio as applications differ based on the type of grass, your climate, and the products you choose as a part of your turfgrass health management program.