COURSE CARE
June Marks The Start Of Summer Stress June 19, 2012 By Adam Moeller

Anaerobic conditions and black layer are a sign of poorly drainage and/or excessive soil wetness. Improving drainage and/or adjusting irrigation practices may be necessary to solve these issues.

June is a great month for golf! The temperatures are starting to get warm, there is plenty of light to get a quick late round, and U.S. Open coverage keeps most of us riveted to the television when we are not playing golf ourselves. For turfgrass, June is a transition month in many respects. Bentgrass growth begins to kick into high gear and annual bluegrass begins its annual decline.  

Recent observations from across the region are variable but many courses are in great shape. However, turfgrass stress can come on quickly, sometimes even when air temperatures are relatively mild. Some areas of the region have received an inordinate amount of rainfall in recent weeks, and saturated soils, especially on putting greens, bring on problems quickly. Poorly draining greens can develop black layer, a result of anaerobic conditions in the soils. In the short term, venting aeration and improved air movement can help, but the long term solution is to improve drainage. Anaerobic soils also can result from over-irrigation, so the solution in some cases can be to adjust irrigation practices and increase hand-watering as much as resources permit. 

Disease has not been widespread but courses that have received more rain and have poorly draining soils have seen regionalUpdateContent Pythium weakening their putting green turf. Preventive and/or curative plant protectant applications should be considered if your site is conducive to this disease. Summer patch disease, an issue that usually does not start showing problems until late June and early July, has cropped up already this year, so this is another disease that could be weakening your turfgrass. Wet conditions in the spring followed by high temperatures are great for summer patch development, so this could be another tough year managing this disease. Anthracnose disease and annual bluegrass weevil activity also have been observed on area courses, but neither have been seen in epidemic proportions.  

Putting surface smoothness and pace have been affected by the recent rain at some courses. Humidity can have a huge impact on smoothness and pace, especially if there is excess thatch in the upper regionalUpdateContentzone profile. If putting conditions seem to drop off as soon as a little humidity hits, increased thatch control programs (e.g., core aeration and topdressing) may need to be addressed. 

USGA agronomists can provide insightful and invaluable information involving all areas of golf course maintenance, which will help maximize turf health, playability, and efficiency. Contact Dave Oatis, director doatis@usga.org; Adam Moeller, agronomist amoeller@usga.org; or Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist jskorulski@usga.org for a Turf Advisory Service visit this season.