COURSE CARE
Summertime Cultivations Wrapping Up In The Rain September 2, 2013 By Todd Lowe

Bermudagrass fairways respond well to aggressive summer cultivation, including this ‘Celebration’ fairway that was verticut eight times this summer.

Planning an afternoon outing with friends and family has been impossible this summer, as you will most likely be dodging heavy rainfall and lightning at some point in the day. Now, imagine being a golf course superintendent trying to schedule work under these conditions. Timing herbicide treatments is difficult at times, but cultivations like core aeration and verticutting are even more difficult as they generate a lot of organic debris that must be removed. 

Most of Florida is only a few feet above sea level and the water table is generally not far from the surface. The increased rainfall has caused the water table to rise and soils to remain saturated. As such, tire rutting from vehicles has been a common sight on recent visits. At times, even daily mowing has been impossible. The plant growth regulator Primo (trinexapac-ethyl) has been helpful at slowing turf growth and preventing excessive clippings and mower scalping. 

I recently visited a golf facility in South Florida with beautiful Celebration bermudagrass fairways. Excellent turf density and playability was observed on each hole and it was mentioned that the turf had been verticut in multiple directions earlier this summer. While the verticutting process was aggressive and made the golf course look ugly for a couple of weeks, it is currently paying huge dividends for the golf facility. 

Many golf facilities will soon be wrapping up their late summer cultivations. Generally, I will hear complaints from golfers over the next month or two about thin fairways from slow turf recovery following cultivation processes. The recovery may be prolonged from the increased rainfall and cloudy weather that we are experiencing at this time. If this happens at your course, have some patience as the turf will continue to heal over the next month or two. In fact, October is one of the best months for growing turf in Florida and generally provides excellent turf recovery. While it seems counterintuitive, the more you beat up bermudagrass, the better it will respond and provide excellent playing conditions for the peak season. 

Source:  Todd Lowe, ( tlowe@usga.org )

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