The Annual Dry Season Is Upon Us

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
April 11, 2012

(L) When soils develop localized dry spots they begin to repel water and are difficult to rewet. (R) Cart traffic in drought-stressed areas should be avoided. The additional stress can cause damage that will take several weeks to recover. 

 

 

Florida experiences more rain than most regions, but March through May is generally quite dry. This year is no exception. Many non-irrigated turf areas, such as roadsides, have turned tan to brown from lack of water. Most golf courses have remained a healthy green color due to regular irrigation, but are beginning to experience off-color conditions from localized dry spots.

Localized dry spots occur as the soil dries out and becomes hydrophobic. A hydrophobic soil repels water and becomes difficult to re-wet. Repeated hand-watering or irrigation cycles, coupled with supplemental aeration and/or wetting agents are necessary to reduce hydrophobic conditions and improve turf quality. Once the turf becomes stressed from localized dry spots, it can take several weeks of irrigation to turn green again.

Preventative wetting agent treatments are recommended to reduce the likelihood of localized dry spots. Fertigation is a method of applying fertilizers through the irrigation system and it is an excellent means to deliver wetting agents efficiently throughout the entire golf course. Whether wetting agents are applied through sprayers or through the irrigation system, it is best to prevent localized dry spots from occurring as compared to re-wetting spots once they occur.

In addition to applying wetting agents, it is also recommended to avoid driving golf carts into drought-stressed areas. The additional stress of traffic in dry areas can cause acute tire damage that will require several weeks or more to fully recover.

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

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