COURSE CARE
Extended Rainfall Can Be A Challenge September 16, 2014 By Todd Lowe

Ribbons of thatch debris occurred after a heavy downpour following core aeration and verticutting.

Rainfall is generally viewed as a benefit to turf, since water is vital to plant growth. However, the Florida Region receives over 50-inches of annual rainfall, much of which occurs during the summer months. Multiple heavy downpours can take a toll on golf courses. There are several negative side effects of extended rainfall including:

  • Inconsistent weed management programs, as superintendents try to plan around rain events
  • Poor mowing quality, as some areas may remain unmowed for several days, producing an unkempt look and an abundance of clippings upon resumption of normal mowing
  • Washing of bunker sand, producing inconsistent play quality and the need for constant shoveling/raking
  • Leaching of nutrients from soil, producing off-color/thin conditions, particularly in nematode-stressed areas
  • Interruptions in maintenance practices like removing debris from core aeration or verticutting
  • Tire rutting from maintenance vehicles and golf carts in saturated areas

Intensified cart traffic management programs and “cart path only” policies are common this time of year due to extended rainfall and saturated soil conditions. Golf courses throughout Florida are preparing for the peak winter play season, and reducing tire rutting will help preserve good turf quality. Some patience and understanding is appreciated by golf course management staff as they prepare the golf course for the onslaught of winter golfers that will arrive within the next few months.

Despite the extended rainfall, some soil drying can take place on putting greens this time of year. Sand-based putting greens do not retain water as well as native soils; therefore, sand-based greens may dry out quicker than the surrounding native soils. Also, turfgrass regionalUpdateContenting on many golf course greens decreases by late summer due to aggressive cultivation practices that take place. It is important to remain diligent in scouting with moisture probes and applying supplemental irrigation to keep the turf from drying out and becoming drought stressed.

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

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