Florida summer maintenance programs are underway, and it feels good to get back into a more normal routine after one of the most difficult winters. The first round of core aeration and aggressive verticutting of putting greens, tees, and fairways is completed, accelerating the winter recovery.
Many golf courses report rounds down by as much as 25% to 30% as a result of the lagging economy and cold weather. The result is a growing number of clubs participating in expanded reciprocal play programs. Along with generating additional revenues, the hope is that reciprocal play will help attract new members.
In some instances, to minimize disruptions and golfer inconvenience, routine cultural management practices have been delayed, reduced, or even cancelled. From the agronomic standpoint, the importance of conducting basic management practices, such as aeration, on the appropriate schedule, cannot be over emphasized. In addition to reestablishing a dense and healthy turf cover and preparing for the intense stresses of the rapidly approaching summer rainy season, accomplishing the adequate number of replications through the growing season is key to realizing optimum performance over the short and long term.
In Central and North Florida, a greater degree of turf injury and loss was experienced this winter. Although temperatures from January through March were not sufficiently cold to result in true bermudagrass winter kill, a loss of turf coverage through portions of putting greens WAS a problem, especially with Tifdwarf bermudagrass putting greens that were not overseeded. The existence of other limiting conditions, such as shade, restricted drainage, or concentrated traffic, only further compounded matters.
During May Turf Advisory Service visits, viable bermudagrass rhizomes were present where turf loss had been experienced earlier. Reestablishing a dense, healthy turf cover is feasible with a grow-in fertilization program that ensures sufficient levels of available nutrients to support maximum sustained growth. In any location with 50% or less turf coverage, installing sod plugs or patches is advised to complete the recovery process as quickly as possible. It is always preferable to utilize repair material generated onsite, as this reduces the time required to develop a consistent and acceptable surface, and, more importantly, avoid creation of a layered profile. This is a concern when purchasing sod that has been grown on a different soil base.
At the courses in the central and northern part of the state that had winter overseeding, transition back to bermudagrass has been the goal. If a moderate to high percentage of the overseeding persists into June, strongly consider herbicide treatments to complete the process. It is important to ensure that the base bermudagrass receives a minimum of 100 growing days without overseeding competition. For a further review of this subject, visit /content/dam/usga/pdf/imported/course-care/050322.pdf to access the Green Section Record article, "Spring Transition: Going, Going, Gone", by Dr. Fred Yelverton, North Carolina State University.
Finally, for anyone who missed the excellent bermudagrass disease update webcast that took place on Thursday, May 27th, 2010, a recording of the presentations by Dr. Bruce Martin, Dr. Lee Miller, and Dr. Phil Harmon is available to view for free viewing athttp://gsportal.usga.org.
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