COURSE CARE
Project Season Is Upon Us, And Conference Season Is Just Around The Corner October 1, 2013 By David A. Oatis

Heavy rain in June and July promoted tremendous weed encroachment and growth in naturalized roughs this year. Some natural areas became unplayable.

Fall color is popping, leaves are dropping, and many in the golf industry in the Northeast Region are letting out a sigh of relief. 2013 may well wind up being an “average” year when the final weather statistics are tabulated, but it most certainly was not. Turf throughout the region was teetering on the brink of disaster back in July. Fortunately, the weather from late July to the present has been remarkably good. Turf at many courses has recovered completely from the summer problems, and at harder hit facilities, recovery is at least progressing. As turfgrass growth grinds to a halt, course improvement projects are getting set to kick into high gear, and that means project season is just around the corner. 

Just don’t let your guard down yet. There are still a few challenges for turf managers to deal with. 

  • Grub activity is in full swing at many courses. Some of the early season insecticide applications may not have been watered in sufficiently, or it may be that excessive rains in June and July reduced their efficacy. Regardless, skunks are feasting at many courses, so keep your eyes open for grub activity.
  • ABW (annual bluegrass weevils) remain active in some locations. Populations may not be high enough to justify control applications, but be aware that they still can cause damage.
  • Given the summer stress and disease problems experienced with annual bluegrass, many courses are interested in increasing creeping bentgrass populations in their greens. Seeding is the traditional method, but unless a significant amount of turf is lost or greens are closed for a few weeks after seeding, the amount of bentgrass gained is often very disappointing. If seeding isn’t providing the results you’re after, try vegetative establishment. Start with improved bentgrass cultivars and simply put plugs from a turf nursery into your greens. Plugging is usually considered a remedy for turf damage, but it can be used as a management technique for promoting the desired species. It takes a while, but if you can regularly dedicate a reasonable number of labor hours to the project results over the course of a year can be impressive. Small, 3-inch pluggers are ideal for this purpose because the smaller plugs are nearly invisible to golfers.
  • The wet weather experienced early in the season promoted weed establishment and lush, luxuriant growth of grasses and weeds in naturalized rough areas. Weed populations and turf density reached new levels in these areas this year, and it turned many naturalized roughs into golf ball swallowing hazards. Courses use a variety of different practices to control weeds and turf growth in naturalized areas, but heavy rain can undo even the best programs. If your naturalized areas were thick and weedy this season, you have plenty of company. At this point, the only option is to look towards next season, so plan on extra mowing and weed control this fall and next spring.

Northeast agronomists have been extremely busy, but we are never too busy to hear from you. Give us a call if we can help and best of luck for a successful season. 

Source: David Oatis (doatis@usga.org)

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