COURSE CARE
Glimmers Of Hope March 31, 2010 By Todd Lowe

This past golfing season is one that many golf course superintendents would rather forget. The past two months saw extended periods of low soil temperatures, low sunlight, and increased rainfall. El Nino was initially only a nuisance that caused prolonged turf discoloration, but eventually accentuated turf thinning on many golf courses throughout the region. The weather is sometimes thought by some unreasonable golfers to be simply an excuse for turf management and, if that is the case, there were many excuses given this past winter.

We have received glimmers of hope over the past few weeks of resumption of normal growing conditions and increased soil temperatures as daytime temperatures rise into the 70’s, but such hopes are short lived, as nighttime temperatures remained firmly in the low 50’s. This keeps the already low soil temperatures from increasing to acceptable levels for turf growth and recovery. Active turf growth occurs when soil temperatures at a 4-inch depth are above 65F, but soil temperatures recorded during Turfgrass Advisory Service visits over the past few weeks have not risen above 62F.

Bulk granular fertilizer applications have been applied on golf courses over the past few weeks, mostly in hopes by many golf course superintendents that the bermudagrass will soon awaken from its winter hibernation. Like a sleepy bear arising from its winter den, I have seen glimmers of hope on several golf courses over the past week of the turf finally beginning to show several shades of green throughout the entire golf course. The turf finally seems to be shedding its brown winter coat for the healthy green coat that golfers are accustomed to seeing.

Since we are not completely out of the woods in regard to soil temperatures, I recommend continuing topdressing putting greens with dark substances, like charcoal or dyed sand to maintain good putting green health and turf recovery. These dark substances help retain heat within the upper region of the soil, where most turfgrass regionalUpdateContents reside. Bermudagrass is a living, breathing organism that responds to its environment, and the weather is the one element that is beyond the golf course superintendent’s control; but we are hopeful that sustained favorable conditions will soon occur.

Source: Todd Lowe, tlowe@usga.org or 941-828-2625

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