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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have pretty much just been using Milorganite for 2 years on my 5000 ft sq lawn. This spring I have only put down some Milorganite in early April. It has been cold here for most of April with a few 70 degree days mixed. My lawn compared to the neighbors is not quite as green or appears to have some dormant areas. One neighbor uses a lawn service and the other applied 28% N with mycorrhizas fungus at the same time in liquid form. In the summer all 3 lawns are very similar in color and thickness. I am wondering if the microbes in the soil that react with the Milorganite to release the nutrients are more active as the soil temp comes up. I apply Milorganite at the recommended rate of 36 lbs per 2500 square ft. Next year I will apply a starter fertilizer in april to get lawn off to a better start. By the middle of May my lawn will hopefully catch up.
 

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The spring greenup is actually based on the fertilizer you used in the fall. If you are using only milorganite then the fall cool temps could be reducing the microbe activity so it gets less nitrogen to the grass. That's why the "winterizer" app I use is the fast release urea.

So what happens is in the fall it's soaking up all those nutrients for the winter, then in the spring it uses the reserves to start growing.
 

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Is this cool season grass or warm season grass? Microbes are active when the soil is warm so they're not going to do their thing with Milorganite until the soil warms up. In the fall when the ground is cold, they slow down. For cool season grass you don't want to push nitrogen in the early spring as it causes excessive shoot growth at the expense of the roots. Better to let it come out of dormancy naturally. Starter fertilizer is called starter because it's used at seeding time. It has more phosphorus than other fertilizer. At seeding time it supplies phosphorus (good for roots) where the emerging seedling can easily find it. You don't need starter fertilizer at other times unless your soil test indicates you are low on phosphorus. I am using cracked corn (25 lb/K) for my late spring feeding. Then no fertilizer until early September. I have tttf and brown patch concerns and a very hot summer. It is always stressed in the summer. I will likely use Milorganite early September and early October (probably more like late August and late September) and then urea in November/December. Milorganite at bag rate gives you 0.72 lb of nitrogen. If you want to supply 1 lb of nitrogen/K, use 20 lb/K of Milorganite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Cool season grass; I aeriated and applied Milorganite in the fall (sept) as well. Looks like the lawn is starting to catch up. We just got 2.5 inches of rain and the temps are coming up as well. It has been 3 weeks since I applied the Milo. Grass is starting to get a uniform dark green,
I apply Milo 4 times a year, my lawn is sod on top of yellow clay, no top soil. I am wanting to build up the soil using a natural process. My next step will be to top dress with compost or top soil after aerating.
 

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Bermudagrass, 3.75 acres, Arkansas
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I have been using Milo on my warm season bermuda lawn. I have cut back on my Nitrogen delivery (pounds per thousand), and Milo has been a good way to accomplish that. There are cheaper sources of Nitrogen, but it is not cost prohibitive for my lawn.
 

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Lewb, if you are trying to build up organic matter in the soil, be sure to leave clippings on the lawn when you mow and in the fall mulch mow as many leaves as possible into your lawn. The Milorganite is great for organic feeding but it has little effect on your soil composition. Be careful with adding topsoil. You do not want to change the grading of your lawn and create drainage problems (like water being directed toward the house). Compost will decompose, topsoil won't. Generally it's best to use topsoil just to fill up depressions, not to spread it out all over the yard. Is your grass developing good roots and growing down into your soil? Have you done a soil test? If it's growing roots and you have sufficient nutrients, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Mulch mowing leaves is a great alternative to making and spreading compost. Grassdaddy had good advice on urea in the late fall as providing the stored energy for spring green up. Urea is interesting. It's an organic compound produced synthetically.
 

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SiteOne sells a Lesco 21-4-11 that's 90% poly coated urea. I think it has some iron in it too. Comes out to about $3.5/pound of N, so not much cheaper that Milorganite on sale but 90% slow release vs 60% slow release with Milorganite. Less pounds of product to apply, no smell, consistent delivery regardless of temperature and 11% potassium, it's a winner for me :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update; Do not buy Milorganite if its on special and is hard or clumped up. I bought 4 bags like this for 6.00 at Walmart. The only place in my lawn showing any deep green is next to neighbors (over spay) and a couple areas where I stop to try and clear a clump in the gate of spreader while the fertilizer was pouring out. Apparently milo has an expiration date. The milo coming out of the bag has light gray look not as deep as the normal milo. Live and learn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I should say if it is stored incorrectly (in sun light) the fert will break down, at least that is what Milorganite told me. My guess is that this pallet of Milorganite was in this store for several years, there is a bag date on the package, I bought the milo back in sept and do not have any bags left so I cannot confirm how old the stuff was I do know it did not provide any nutrients.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZJbCY3Ouw4

Here is a video of my lawn from yesterday. When you apply fertilizer you believe it will have an effect on growth. It took me a few weeks to figure out that something was wrong with the Milorganite. I put down two bags on my 5000 sq ft lawn which is the recommended rate. I do realize that Milorganite does not have high percentage of N that a lawn needs to get going in the spring. I did use the same batch of Milo in the fall before the grass went dormant. There should have been plenty of fertility to get off to a good start. My only explanation is that the milo did not have any or very little fertility. I did re-apply milo last week and the lawn should see some improvements by the end of this week. First time I have waited a week to mow (3 inchs) and could hardly tell where the mower was, so I quit mowing.
 

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That's really odd man. I checked your weather and yeah its plenty warm enough but Weather Underground shows 0.28 in rain for the last 30 days. So it could need more water. Lawns want 1in per week. (that's assuming the station I checked is actually setup right though)
 
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