The week itself has been somewhat mixed. There has been a dry-down for some, but at this stage damage has been already done and the issue with green speeds has certainly come to the forefront as superintendents try to protect the greens through the brutal heat. One thing that has also almost certainly disappeared with the anaerobic soil conditions combining nicely with cruel heat is turfgrass roots. This means surfaces may become a little soft and inconsistent, so trying to judge best mowing heights is nigh on impossible. Remnants of Pythium can be seen in low spots and on some fairways, while further south unfortunately summer patch has made its way onto greens. Reports of grub digging have emerged already – indicating that the mild winter really did leave us a little off on the timing of various applications. It is just over one week, however, until Aug. 15 and so many are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Continuing to do the right things from an agronomical standpoint will win the day. Making judgment calls based on incoming weather conditions and staying calm in the face of adversity will get you through – no rash decisions! Our other annual issue – the disappearance of rough bluegrass Poa trivialis because it got too hot in the kitchen has really kicked in, and so the dormancy will leave a stain from now until the middle of September. Patience will be required as well as a lot of seed – get after it and finish strong!
This is from Bruce Schweiger’s scouting report that was sent out August 10th from the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab at UW-Madison. Early in the hot stretch of weather the patch diseases were tops on the list of diagnosed issues. As heat continued the rains seems to come at the most inopportune times. From telephone conversations and Twitter it appears many facilities experienced floods, like the Noer, and/or just rain events after rain events.
These constant rains have saturated soils through out the Midwest. This has caused a switch in the issues arriving at the TDL. With all the rains stress diseases and abiotic issues are showing up. Pythium has been on the increase especially where we have a soil profile with a layer of organic matter. Due to the humidity and rainfall these layers are saturated and perfect breeding ground for pythium. In these cases a good aerification program can assist in diluting the organic matter and improving drainage for next summer.
Abiotic issues have been on the increase. These wet, hot, humid conditions are not allowing the soil profile to dry down. When the soils don’t dry they have a deceases oxygen content and thus un-happy plants. During these tough times with the goal for firm fast greens, sometimes our maintenance practices are increased. The extra rolling, topdressing, double cutting and possibly extra PGR applications can be very detrimental. I know the golfers do not see the issue, but after a few weeks of this with no recovery time the turf canopy declines. Where can we draw the line between a few complaints about speed that will in time lead to the complaints about bad greens? Just this week I have been dealing with a few Superintendents in this situation that after a few weeks of fighting speed are now in a battle with anthracnose, and it has been a battle.
What do you do in the winter? That is a question we get all the time. The following list doesn’t include everything we do but will help you appreciate and understand what winter golf course maintenance entails.