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 sodding job.

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 diseases.
  • 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 dormancy.
  • 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 of dormancy.
  • 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.