A Method For Pre-Germinating Ryegrass Seed For Divots February 27, 2015

A Method For Pre-Germinating Ryegrass Seed For Divots

By Pat Gross, Director
January 12, 2009


Seed bucket (left) and perforated garbage can (right) developed by Julio Alfaro at the Monterey Peninsula Country club for pre-germinating perennial ryegrass seed used to fill divots.
Cool temperatures over the past three weeks have slowed the germination and establishment of perennial ryegrass used for divot repair. Pre-germinating the seed can jump start this process. Although there are different ways to pre-germinate seed, I was impressed with the method used by Julio Alfaro, the man responsible for the practice areas at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Here's Julio's special recipe:
  1. (6:00 am) Use a clean 1-gallon (or larger) plastic bucket. Fill with seed and add water to the top of the bucket. Soak the seed for 3 hours.
  2. (9:00 am) Transfer the seed to a clean plastic garbage can with holes drilled in the bottom and sides on 6" centers. Drain for 5 hours.
  3. (2:30 pm) Stir the seed by hand and cover the garbage can. (Julio uses the plastic cover from the granular fertilizer spreader). Bring the can into the shop to keep warm overnight (60°F - 70°F).
  4. (day 2) Remove the cover and bring the can outside. Stir the seed by hand in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon. Cover the can and bring into the shop to stay warm for the second night.
  5. (day 3) The seed is ready to spread. Julio applies the seed by hand over the divots and covers with a mixture of sand and compost.

Julio makes at least two batches of pre-germinated seed each week. This process has accelerated ryegrass germination by nearly five days and has been a valuable practice during the cool winter season.

Pat Gross is the Director of the Southwest Region of the USGA Green Section. He can be contacted at: . Phone: 714-542-5766.