While not something we typically find in the Rocky Mountain Region, hot and humid conditions have prevailed this summer, particularly in the Denver Front Range area. Record-setting rains almost reached annual average totals for a two-week period in early July. These were followed by rapidly rising temperatures. The combination of these events produced very high physiologically stress to turfgrass plants not normally seen.
Within many communities, golf courses play an important role in storm water management. The downside to this is that the golf courses are recipients of large amounts of water during extremely high rain events. Courses that served as recipients of surrounding water were especially subject to damage. With the sheer volume of water received in a short amount of time, it took longer than normal for the waters to recede. Many golf courses were almost in a flood-like state for some days, and extended rain, followed closely by high heat and intense sun, caused rapid onset of turf loss on many golf courses. This was especially apparent in lower areas that held water.
Some damage can be attributed to disease in the flood plain areas, but the most damage was the result of extreme physiological stress. Super-saturated soils failed to allow the turfgrass plants to breath or transpire under high temperatures for long periods of time. Evidence of wet wilt and sun scald also was reported by a number of superintendents.
Repair programs have been underway at many courses during our recent Turf Advisory Service visits. Golfers will need to appreciate the hard work invested by the maintenance staffs, and do their best to help facilitate a rapid recovery. Damaged areas have received slit seeding, solid-tine aeration, broadcast spreading of additional seed, light fertilizer applications, and now we’re waiting for seed germination. Golfers can be helpful by keeping carts out of recently seeded areas, and also for understanding that fairways need to be syringed during the day.
With luck, cooler temperatures will take the pressure off young seedlings as they emerge. Adequate time should still be available this fall to achieve good recovery. Light and frequent spoon feeding, similar to what many superintendents apply on putting surfaces, will help increase density in these areas throughout the fall.
Now is the time for superintendents to plan fall cultural activities. As was stated during a visit just last week by a superintendent in the Denver area --- “there are just 34 more days until aeration.” This is not something golfers want to hear, but it is something that many superintendents can’t wait to accomplish this fall, given the high heat, humidity and temperatures of this summer.
The Green Section is available for Turf Advisory Service visits throughout the fall. Please feel free to contact Larry Gilhuly (email@example.com), Derf Soller (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Wendy Schwertfeger (email@example.com) for information or to schedule on a visit yet this fall or next season.