Control What's Possible, Manage the Rest.
Travels through the region have provided clear examples of how variable the weather can be. While some portions of the region are dry, others are saturated. As turfgrass managers know, saturated soil conditions and summer heat don't mix. If you do not have good drainage, damage is inevitable. As an example, a portion of the Mid-Atlantic Region experienced 11 inches of rainfall during June and the first week of July. Not the best conditions to enter the dog days of summer.
Control what you can:
Monitor golf cart traffic and make every effort (with the cooperation of golfers) to shift wear patterns during this recent period of heat. Even foot traffic can be damaging, especially near bunkers and walk-on/walk-off areas to greens.
Consider not mowing during the hottest part of the day. Mowing during extreme heat can damage the grass leaving wheel tracks that will affect the playability of the course.
Mowing programs may have to be shifted to earlier in the day or later in the evening to groom the course for play. Early in the morning the soil temperatures are closer to the air temperatures. In the late afternoon, the warmer soils dissipate heat to the atmosphere as the air temperatures drop. This radiation effect can be monitored, providing a point of reference to begin late afternoon or evening mowing procedures.
Carefully mange the water applied to the turf. Syringing to cool the grass is just that -the blades of the grass are watered to stimulate a cooling effect. As a breeze moves over the turf heat is dissipated to the air. If at all possible, syringe with hand-held hoses rather than overhead irrigation.
The soils should not be overly moistened. Wet soils conduct heat rapidly and this condition can be lethal to the turf. Surface temperatures reading in excess of 100 degrees F. were recently observed. Prompt action is necessary under these conditions to save turf. Research has provided evidence that Poa annua becomes nonfunctional at 85 degrees F.
Golfers may have to tolerate minor inconveniences early in the morning. Applying a very brief syringe after morning mowing can be beneficial. Depending upon the weather conditions, this practice could save grass.
While we still have four to six weeks of potentially trying weather ahead turfgrass managers are trying to get over the hump regarding turfgrass stress. Control the variables you can and manage the rest.
Always remember, the Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail. Stan Zontek or Darin Bevard at 610-558-9066 or Keith Happ at 412-341-5922