A Cooler-Than-Normal August Is A Welcomed Break, But Summer Is Far From Over

By Darin S. Bevard, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
August 7, 2013

A common problem throughout the Mid-Atlantic region has been excessive rainfall. Black layer development in areas suffering from poor drainage or excessive thatch has been common on recent visits. Venting the soil will help to alleviate this condition and improve oxygen levels in the rootzone.

After a short bout of extremely high temperatures in mid-July, milder temperatures have moved into most of the Mid-Atlantic region. Cooler temperatures allow recovery of stressed turf to begin, but it will still take time before progress is noticeable. Unfortunately, frequent rainfall is still an issue for much of the region. While normal precipitation is welcomed for the grass, excessive rainfall creates problems for maintenance and playability. With repeated rainfall, soils become saturated and black layer development (associated with anaerobic conditions) in low areas of greens has been a problem encountered on numerous visits. Black layer can restrict rooting and the buildup of toxic gases can eventually affect surface conditions. Venting of these areas will help them dry out and increase oxygen in the soil profile.

Annual bluegrass weevil populations are again causing damage. Technically, this is the third generation of this pest so far, but the generations are not distinct. Adults, larvae and pupae are often being found in the same area which complicates control options. Insecticide applications will need to be continued where this pest is a problem. The cost of insecticides for annual bluegrass weevil can add up over the growing season putting a strain on budgets, but remember that any of these insects controlled now will not be around to reproduce and do damage to the grass later. Adulticides and larvicides will be needed. It is becoming apparent that eradicating populations of this insect from a given golf course is nearly impossible. The best hope seems to be minimizing populations so that damage is limited to smaller areas, and spot applications can then be made as needed. Ongoing scouting is a must to prevent significant problems from developing. Annual bluegrass weevil seems to be the “gift that keeps on giving.”

Finally, a frequent topic of conversation during recent visits is upcoming putting green aeration strategies. Many facilities plan to core aerate greens in the next two to three weeks. Use common sense and consider the weather conditions when deciding what strategies to use. For example, filling aeration holes with sand is important, but excessive dragging or brushing of greens can lead to turfgrass damage that may take several weeks to heal. Be willing to change plans if hot or wet weather interferes with scheduled aeration plans. While the date may be on the calendar, weather conditions that are not favorable for the grass could lead to problems. Here is the point: There is nothing worse than successfully navigating through a difficult growing season without significant problems on the golf course only to have self-inflicted damage on your putting greens or other fine turf areas ruin your summer. Be patient and be careful because while current weather patterns are favorable, summer stress may not be over. 

Source: Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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