COURSE CARE
April 2015: What's Happening In Your Area? April 1, 2015 By Patrick O'Brien, Chris Hartwiger, John Foy, and Todd Lowe

Spring growth of bermudagrass often reveals localized dry spots. Wetting agents and adequate irrigation will bring these areas back over a few weeks’ time.

Recently, the agronomists in the Southeast Region had the chance to collaborate and review items of interest occurring in the region. Their comments are shared below.

Todd Lowe

Spring has sprung in the southern part of our region and semi-dormant turf is now actively growing. Increased growth means more mowing and more clippings. Many facilities are booked with tee times and multiple shotgun starts each week, making it difficult to mow. Some patience on behalf of the golfer is needed at this time, especially on golf courses with limited staff sizes. Plant growth regulators can help reduce turf growth and clipping yield, but their effects are moderate and turf still needs to be mowed. Also, reduced speeds on putting greens has occurred with the rise in temperatures and increased double cutting, rolling and plant growth regulators have been a topic of discussion with golf course superintendents.

Brown, localized dry spots have been observed, but these are only visual blemishes that will recover with supplemental irrigation or rainfall. March, April and May tend to be drier months in the southern region and brown dry spots are common at this time. The good news is that the brown areas are generally not dead, but are exhibiting a survival response to the droughty conditions. With a little water the turf will resume a healthy, green color. So, until we experience more rainfall, don’t be surprised to see more supplemental hand-watering or irrigation during your rounds of golf.

John Foy

During the recent USGA Regional Education Conference conducted in partnership with the Carolinas GCSA and hosted at Hope Valley Country Club in Durham, N.C., a number of excellent presentations were provided on a variety of topics. Dr. Bruce Martin, professor, Turfgrass Pathology, Clemson University, provided a presentation on bermudagrass putting green disease management that discussed common winter and spring diseases along with the most effective control treatments. Dr. Martin also spent some time discussing plant parasitic nematodes, which are a growing concern on putting greens throughout the region. Nematode activity and population levels progressively increase in the spring to early summer in response to increasing soil temperatures and root system growth. Affected areas often exhibit symptoms similar to localized dry spots but do not respond to wetting agent treatments, supplemental irrigation or fertilization. At this time, nematode control treatments are still rather limited but, based on product evaluation trials, MultiGuard Protect and/or Avid treatment programs are being recommended. However, two new experimental nematicides are providing impressive results and at least one of these materials could be available for use in 2016. 

Pat O’Brien

Mr. Bill Anderson, retired director of golf and grounds at the Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. was presented the USGA Ike Grainger Award at a USGA meeting at Hope Valley Country Club March 24, 2015. This USGA award honored Anderson for 25 years of volunteer service as a USGA Green Section Committee member. Anderson was one of 16 recipients named at the USGA’s annual meeting in February at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Ike Grainger was a past USGA President and served on the USGA Executive Committee and lived in Wilmington, N.C. The award in his name was instituted in 1995.

Chris Hartwiger

To regulate or not to regulate with plant growth regulators (PGRs)? That is the question being asked by golf course superintendents with either creeping bentgrass or ultradwarf bermudagrass putting greens. Although bentgrass has been growing for quite some time now, March is a popular month for aeration and most superintendents elect to avoid growth regulation around core aeration events. One tool that can help time the application of PGRs is the growing degree-day model for Primo® applications developed at the University of Wisconsin. The model shows how much a bentgrass plant is regulated based on the time of the application and the temperatures since the previous application (Primo Model).

Superintendents with ultradwarf greens are contemplating when to start Primo® applications because a recent period of temperatures in the mid-70s has initiated bermudagrass growth on many golf courses. At this time, a growing degree-day model for Primo® applications on ultradwarf putting greens is currently being explored by turf scientists.

Source: Patrick O’Brien (patobrien@usga.org), Chris Hartwiger (chartwiger@usga.org), John Foy (jfoy@usga.org), and Todd Lowe (tlowe@usga.org)

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