The summer of 2010 may be remembered as the hottest summer in history, but, in all honesty, does it really matter? This summer turned hot early, stayed hot throughout, and recorded a few more 90 degree days in September.
Do you remember the summer of 1995? The problems experienced by that long, hot and record-breaking summer can be summed up in one word - anthracnose. The secondary problem was gray leaf spot.
It is ironic how things have changed. Anthracnose was not a major factor this summer, but why not? The answer is relatively simple. Since the anthracnose plague of the 1990’s, research at a number of universities, including Rutgers, Penn State, and the University of Maryland, have learned to manage and control this destructive disease. With a better understanding of the factors that predispose the turf to stress-related diseases, turf managers were able to minimize damaging effects of anthracnose on greens during the summer of 2010.
Anthracnose is a low-nitrogen, stress-related disease. The partnership among research universities, golf course superintendents and agronomists helped get the word out about improved management, better understanding of the effects of mowing too closely, preventing too much abrasive damage to the grass, improper irrigation techniques and not fertilizing enough.
As for gray leaf spot, what was once a huge problem on perennial ryegrass fairways has now been largely relegated to a disease of roughs. Here again, through research, new resistant grasses have been developed, and better fungicide spray rotations now exist. What was once a huge problem has become a footnote this season.
If there was an unexpected problem identified this summer, it was the scattered outbreaks of bacteria that affected putting green turf. Will this be the new problem on putting green turf? Only time will tell.
The industry continues to evolve and improve. All one has recall is how huge the problems were just a few years ago, and today they have largely been solved or at least been made more manageable.
It is time for golf courses to begin rescheduling deferred maintenance. It simply was too hot and the grass may have been too weak for extensive golf course renovations this summer. This maintenance was either deferred, or, in the case of core aeration, smaller tines were used. With cooler weather, now is the time to reschedule any and all fall maintenance, management and repair work the golf course needs. Remember, preparations for the summer of 2011, whatever it may bring, should begin now.
The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail. Stan Zontek (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Darin Bevard (email@example.com) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 412/ 341-5922.