Early Summer Storm Activity

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
July 5, 2012

Hurricane season officially began on June 1st. While two named storms have already occurred in May, it does not necessarily mean it will be an active summer. In fact, early predictions call for below-average storm activity this summer with 13 named storms and five hurricanes. 

Tropical Storm Debby hit Florida this past week and brought excessive rainfall in several areas. The Gulf Coast experienced between 6 to 10 inches in most areas, but Wakulla County, just south of Tallahassee, experienced over 26 inches! Storm surge and increased rainfall brought isolated flooding in some regions but most areas fared well. 

Excessive rainfall causes increased nutrient leaching in turf and it is important to be mindful of this when considering fertility programs. Sand-based putting greens are designed to drain well, and several inches of rainfall can remove nutrients from the rootzone and cause deficiencies in elements like nitrogen and potassium. Light and frequent spoon-feeding is recommended during periods of increased rainfall. 

Also, storms often bring several days of reduced sunlight from cloud cover. Sunlight is a basic component of plant growth and turf decline is common during times of reduced sunlight. Increasing height of cut is particularly important for putting greens at these times, as it increases turfgrass leaf area and the amount of chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis. This can cause a decrease in putting speed, but increased rolling or double-cutting can be implemented to improve playability at this time. 

Hurricane season ends in November and we are keeping our fingers crossed that early predictions hold true. Be mindful of the rainy season and take precautionary measures, especially increasing putting green heights when necessary.

Source:  Todd Lowe, tlowe@usga.org or 941-828-2625 

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