A couple of days of hot and humid weather are welcomed this week, at least by those working to recover from winter damage. The periods of cooler, dry, and windy weather in April and May have been a challenge. Even with that said, the recovery efforts I have observed have made tremendous progress. It is easy to lose sight of where we are on the calendar, especially with the early start experienced this season. Areas that remain thin should be spike-seeded and topdressed. Use a hexagon plugger to repair the larger gaps that have not yet recovered. A soil probe can be used for plugging the smaller pock marks that remain. Hand-dress the pock-marked areas with a sand/peat/compost mix and seed to smooth those surfaces. Repeat the practice on a weekly basis until the surface is full.
Use shallow vertical mowing, grooming, and hand brushing to address the bentgrass runners and coarse textured plants that have resulted from the recovery program. Slowly transition to the lower heights of cut as the light topdressing practices are continued. Use smooth rollers until full turf cover is obtained. Fertilizer should be scaled back to more normal maintenance levels.
This point of the recovery can be a dangerous time as golfers and turf managers become anxious to return the putting surfaces to normal conditions. Treat the surfaces like you would a new green that is being established from seed. In reality, much of the green is new with juvenile plants that will not tolerate aggressive practices, especially when temperatures become hot. There is nothing worse than watching all of the hard work and time invested in the recovery process for it to be lost due to a few people desiring a few extra inches of green speed.
Are you ready for a Dry Summer?
A relatively dry winter and spring has left many parts of the region well below normal for precipitation. No one can predict what lies ahead, but there is a chance the dry weather pattern will continue and further impact water supplies in the region, and place a greater emphasis on water conservation. Like it or not, water use on golf courses will be heavily scrutinized during periods of drought and that pressure is likely to increase in the Northeast. What steps are you taking to conserve water and are you prepared for the voluntary and mandated water rationing that may lie ahead? This is a much larger topic than can be covered here, but anticipate hearing more about this issue and the means to maximize water conservation on your golf course.
The University of Massachusetts will hold their annual Field Day on June 16th at the Joseph Troll Turf Research Center in South Deerfield, MA. This is a great opportunity to return to the turf plots and see the positive changes that have been made, reconnect with the research, and visit with your peers. We hope to see you there.