A Little Relief, But Still A Long Way To Go

By John H. Foy, director, Florida Region
April 25, 2012

As predicted by the National Weather Service, the storm system that formed in the Gulf of Mexico and came over Florida April 19–21provided much needed rainfall and a little relief to the drought that has plagued the state in recent months. No rainfall, increasing temperatures and windy conditions were all combining to exacerbate drought stress and the occurrence of localized dry spots. It’s been said before, but golfers need to be reminded that most irrigation systems are designed to be a supplement to, and not a complete replacement for, average rainfall. The amount of rain produced by the storm was highly variable across the region and ranged from just under half an inch to over three in a few isolated locations. Regardless of how much it rained, a fairly rapid and uniform turf green-up will occur, but this could be short-lived, especially since the rainy season typically does not kick in until mid to late June.

With limited rainfall and having to rely on supplemental irrigation for an extended period of time, a progressive buildup in rootzone salt levels and soil pH has been occurring. Now would be an excellent time to collect and submit soil samples for testing to make sure that salts are not a limiting factor to turfgrass performance and also that sufficient levels of available nutrients exist. There could still be situations where the application of a soil amendment such as gypsum is needed to help further reduce salt accumulations.

Potassium and magnesium are extremely mobile in Florida’s sandy soils and easily leached with rainfall or even irrigation. Maintaining sufficient levels of these basic nutrients is especially important for ensuring balanced, healthy turf growth as well as improving drought and disease tolerance. With mild winter temperatures and an early spring, bermudagrass has already begun to resume growth. Adequate and proper fertilization is a key consideration for providing consistent, good quality playing conditions and course presentation.

There are a couple of important dates coming up in May. May 15 is the deadline for the $600 early payment discount for 2012 Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visits. By subscribing to and paying for a half or full-day TAS visit before the deadline, a 25 percent savings is realized.

Friday morning, May 18 is the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association Poa annua seminar that leads off the Everglades Chapter’s annual Poa Annua Golf Classic weekend. The superintendent’s role in setting up and marking the golf course, figuring out what is eating your turf and ornamentals, and soil test interpretation are three of the presentations that will be provided during this half-day seminar. We hope to see you in Naples and remember that the Florida Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have questions or concerns, give us a call or send an email. You can reach John Foy at jfoy@usga.org, (772) 546-2620 or Todd Lowe, tlowe@usga.org, 941-828-2625.

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