COURSE CARE
Brown Now Will Bring In The New Green July 22, 2014 By Todd Lowe

Cultivation practices like verticutting, scalping and circle cutting expose underlying stems and make the turf appear brown, but new green leaves will soon emerge and a better playing surface will be the result.

Brown turf has been observed at golf facilities during several Course Consulting Service visits lately. However, the ominous hue is actually a good thing, as the brown coloration is being caused by cultivation practices like verticutting, scalping and circle cutting. Golfers may find it hard to believe that it is necessary to make the golf course look ugly for a few weeks during the summer to make it look good – and play great – for the remainder of the year.

If left unmaintained in the warm Florida climate, turf can become too thick and interfere with playability and aesthetics. Excessive thatch can create puffy playing conditions and encourage mower scalping, whereas a well-diluted thatch layer will improve surface firmness and turf conditions.

Aggressive cultivation removes much of the green turf canopy, increasing the visibility of underlying tan or yellow stems. However, this is only a short-term inconvenience, as brown conditions subside and new green leaves sprout from the stems exposed during cultivation. The new plantlets are easier to groom than a coarse, grainy canopy full of stems and will produce high-quality playing conditions.

Summertime golfers can feel slighted at this time of year, as other maintenance practices like core aeration and topdressing are being implemented. Unfortunately, recovery from aggressive cultivation practices requires optimal environmental conditions, which leaves only a short window of time during the summer to complete these tasks.

High heat and humidity are certainly kicking turf growth into overdrive, and some golf course managers are finding it difficult to keep up with daily mowing. The plant growth regulator trinexapac-ethyl can be applied to greens, tees and fairways on a regular basis during this time of year to help maintain mowing practices and manage clipping production.

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

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