Recent Greening May Be Short-lived

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
March 14, 2012

Cottony mycelium from Pythium was recently seen on South Florida putting greens. 


Recent visits have seen a vibrant shade of green on many golf courses. Mild temperatures experienced this past winter have kept soil temperatures higher and turf has remained actively growing in South Florida. Temperature patterns continue to trend upwards and as a result the turf is resuming active growth from Orlando south. Semi-dormant roughs that were tan to dull green from lower soil temperatures are now green, especially on courses that have recently applied fertilizers.

Plant pathogens and disease occurrences have been discussed on recent visits. Moderate temperatures coupled with high relative humidity have encouraged diseases. Leaf spot disease continues to plague golf courses, as well as several recent Pythium outbreaks. Diligent scouting is necessary for effective disease management so that fungicides can be applied in a timely manner. The dry season in our region generally occurs from March thru May, and this should help reduce disease activity throughout our region.

While the dry season will improve disease management, it also will increase localized dry spots and cause some discoloration on tees, fairways and roughs. This temporary loss of color has no long-term effects on turf health and can be improved through increased irrigation or hand watering. Preventative wetting agent treatments are recommended over the next several months to reduce localized dry spots and improve turf quality. Prolonged dry conditions may cause water management districts to impose water restrictions. Hopefully, this will be kept to a minimum this year, so that long-term turf deterioration from drought stress does not occur.

Mole cricket tunneling has been observed on several golf courses, but these are overwintered adults that are beginning to forage. Large-scale insecticide programs are applied in late spring/early summer to catch the mole cricket egg hatch and provide season-long control. Overwintered adults can be managed with less expensive “chase and spray” programs. Some superintendents even apply low concentrations of dishwashing liquid (1 teaspoon of dishwashing soap per gallon of water) to flush and kill isolated groups of overwintered adult mole crickets.

The Florida Region USGA Green Section will be hosting three Course Official meetings next month in Naples, Palm Beach and Tampa. We hope you can attend one of these informative workshops to learn about some of the common issues faced throughout the year. Topics will include putting green maintenance programs, trees, bunkers, recent changes in the Rules of Golf as well as a Question and Answer session for attendees to discuss any golf course related topic. Registration information will be emailed at the end of the week. For more information, call Shelly Foy, 772-546-2620.  

Source:  Todd Lowe, or 941-828-2625 


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