COURSE CARE
A Moderate Summer Can Be Very Insightful August 19, 2014 By Adam Moeller

The moderate weather this summer has been great for golf and turf performance.

The summer of 2014 will be remembered by many as one of the best grass-growing years in the recent past. Winter injury problems were severe for many this spring, but the summer weather has been relatively moderate resulting in short-lived heat stress in most parts of the region. As such, most courses are relatively free of major turf problems. However, a few issues have been observed over recent weeks that are worth discussing.

  1. Annual bluegrass weevils are highly complex insects that are difficult to control. Scouting often reveals multiple stages of larval instars, pupae and adults, confounding the challenge of timing insecticide applications. Increased reports of insecticide resistance continue to make long-term control of these pests a serious threat to golf courses with high populations of annual bluegrass.
  2. Even during periods of moderate weather, traffic stress from golf carts is difficult to avoid when weak grasses dominate fairways.
  3. Failing to address equipment deficiencies will affect course conditions and maintenance efficiency.
  4. Shade and poor air movement contribute to poor turf performance regardless of weather. Putting green turf may survive in mild environments conditions experienced this season, but that may not be the case when more typical summer stress develops in the future.
  5. Water management – i.e., irrigation and drainage – challenges are often masked when cool weather persists for several weeks. However, unreliable automatic irrigation systems, limited labor for hand watering, and/or poorly drained areas are not problems that simply go away. Correcting serious infrastructure issues such as these should be a priority before next season.

Late August is a common time for golf facilities to begin core aeration and other cultivation treatments. Although these programs may result in temporary surface disruption, they are often the most influential cultural programs that help your golf course superintendent produce good golf surfaces. The Green Section Record articles Core Cultivation: Timing is Everything and Easing the Pain of Core Aeration are excellent references to learn why these programs are important and why they are done during certain times of the season.

Source: Adam Moeller (amoeller@usga.org)

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