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:
There have been few signs of spring in the upper portion of the region. Tennessee experienced the coldest February since 1978 and the ninth-coldest February in recorded history. Below are temperatures and snow cover reported by several superintendents and a university professor:
Little Rock, AR 9.5 degrees Snow cover
Memphis, TN 9 degrees Ice cover
Nashville, TN 4 degrees Ice and snow cover
Knoxville, TN 1 degree Snow cover
The frigid temperatures have raised concerns about winter injury for the second year in a row. The USGA has a webcast on winter injury assessment and recovery options. If you would like to get a jump-start on communicating this process, view this short video: Winter Injury Assessment And Recovery Options
The good news is many golf courses in the region are reporting record numbers of rounds for January and early February. The bad news is that the increased rounds take a toll on fairways and roughs. Bermudagrass and seashore paspalum are warm-season grasses that perform well when day and night temperatures total150 degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of low soil temperatures and increased play are causing some ugly conditions. In addition to the worn, beat down appearance of traffic-stressed turfgrass, patches of common bermudagrass have become, and may remain, quite showy until late spring. The recent frost in Southwest Florida has also caused some additional blemishes in the form of short-term discoloration.
Some golf courses have fared better than others and those that have sprayed tees and fairways with pigments and nutrients on a light and frequent basis are holding up rather well – see Switching From Traditional Overseeding To ‘Liquid Overseeding’. However, starting a “liquid overseeding” program now is not recommended as the effects will be diminished by lower temperatures. Instead, initiate liquid overseeding treatments next November while the turf is actively growing and continue reapplying every two to three weeks to maintain good turf quality throughout the winter play season. Warmth is on the horizon and will bring the resumption of turf growth, recovery and greener conditions. Until that time, continue using traffic diversion techniques like ropes and stakes to keep turf from completely thinning out from golf carts and mower traffic.
Tunneling activity by overwintering mole crickets is starting to be observed on golf courses and is causing damage in South Florida. Soap flushes and spot-treating areas worst affected by mole crickets will help keep mole cricket activity below threshold levels – see Mole Cricket IPM Guide For Florida. As we transition into spring and temperatures increase, mole crickets will become a primary pest management concern in coastal areas from North Carolina to Texas. Mapping and monitoring mole cricket activity is a very important part of a sound pest management program and will help determine the optimum timing of control treatments.
Renovation activity continues in the Southeast Region. John Foy and I recently consulted with a golf course that desires to change their putting greens from an older variety to an ultradwarf bermudagrass and recapture lost surface area. Two challenges they face are preventing the old bermudagrass from coming back and making sure sunlight levels are adequate. Now that methyl bromide has been phased out, the course is going to use another soil fumigant to eliminate as much of the old bermudagrass as possible. Shade levels will be addressed through the selective removal of trees. Taking the time to develop a plan to deal with these challenges is critical to the project’s success and future golfer enjoyment.