When it comes to good turf management, sometimes having all the facts makes a big difference. Recently, a study done by Michigan State University helped dispel some myths about how important Frequency of Clip is to turf health. FOC is defined as the distance between “clips” (the smaller the FOC number, the greater the number of clips). As it turns out, the study found that FOC had no impact in three important metrics: green speed, disease or amount of clippings collected.
The two-year study, which began in 2012, was designed to investigate the effect of three different FOCs. The researchers wanted to use the best possible turf equipment in the study, so naturally they picked the Toro Greensmaster Flex 2100 mower. Nine of those mowers were used with 14-blade reels, and EdgeMax micro-cut bedknives. The mowers used bench setting Heights of Cut (HOC) of 0.080, 0.110 and 0.140 inch. For each HOC, one mower was set at a FOC of 0.100, a second mower was set at a FOC of 0.126 and a third mower used a FOC of 0.149 inch (hence the nine mowers).
The data collected by the study included green speed, disease observations and clipping weights for plots of grass maintained for a two-year period by one of the nine mowers. Not surprisingly, the study found that plots of grass maintained at the lowest HOC (0.08 inch) had the fastest green speed, least disease and highest amount of clippings of all the plots. The plots maintained by the highest HOC had just the opposite results – slowest green speed, most disease and lowest amount of clippings.
What was surprising to the researches was that FOC had no impact on any of those three metrics – green speed, disease and clippings. In other words, a plot of grass cut by a mower with a bench set HOC of 0.080 inch and a FOC of 0.100 inch had the same results as a plot of grass cut by a mower with a bench set HOC of 0.080 inch and a FOC of 0.149 or 0.126 inch. The only variable that affected the results was HOC, not FOC.
What does this mean? In practical terms, it means that marcelling (an effect that makes turf appear wavy or rippled due to uneven cutting) is less of a concern than it used to be. Thanks to lower HOCs, the FOC is simply not much of a factor anymore, at least when it comes to the most important metrics measured in the study.
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