Control What You Can As We Are In the Dog Days of Summer

By Keith Happ, senior agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
July 30, 2012

(L) A few minutes spent cleaning around irrigation heads provides more efficient and effective irrigation coverage. Water distribution is always important but at this time of year it could mean the difference between healthy or dead grass! (R) Maintaining sharp mowers does not have to be a time consuming endeavor. Small hand tools can be used if spin grinders are not available for use. Sharp bed knives and reels are essential for the maintenance of healthy turf.

Rainfall continues to be variable throughout the region. In some areas of the region rainfall amounts have wreaked havoc for turf managers, while in other areas irrigation systems have been stretched to the max. Golfers should not assume that the weather at their house or at one golf course is the same as what is experienced at another. Superintendents are not purposely overwatering. Isolated areas of the region have received excess precipitation, some totaling as much as 6 inches in over 72 hours. When combined with high temperatures this uncontrollable element of turf management forces superintendents to play defense and react to changing conditions. Often, it is what is not performed that makes a difference. When the soil is saturated it may not be possible to perform even the most basic mowing procedures. 

While some have experienced significant precipitation, others continue to be dry and must irrigate to maintain their golf turf. Poorly functioning heads are either leading to localized dry spot problems, are not providing proper coverage or are overwatering some areas while under watering other areas. Checking the spreader and range nozzles is critical during this hot season. Grass and other debris may be affecting the efficiency of coverage. This is particularly important for irrigation heads that may be weeping onto greens. When things are dry and you have to rely on the irrigation system it is critical to make sure it is functioning properly. It is also a good time to evaluate coverage to determine if additional heads may be needed.

Whether it has been dry or wet, take the time to sharpen the mowers during the season. Maintaining sharp leading edges on cutting units will help to support healthy grass. It may only take a few minutes and the effort could save grass by minimizing potential damage from bruising and wounding of the grass blades. Not all golf course operations have state of the art grinding (sharpening) equipment. There are hand held sharpening tools that can be used if spin grinding machines are not available at your facility. Back lapping can also help keep mowers sharp. As they say, “Where there is a will there is a way,” and a way to maintain healthy grass is to use sharp and well-adjusted mowers! 

We continue to see Hyperodes weevils activity in the field. In fact, bentgrass has been damaged by this pest in central Pennsylvania. Take the time to examine all signs and symptoms of the off-color or declining turf before control procedures are implemented. Don’t automatically assume it is wilt. Check it out. Treating for insect activity rather than a secondary disease may be what is needed. Product selection can make all the difference. Call our offices if concerns or questions arise. 

Always remember that the agronomists of the Mid-Atlantic Region are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question of concern, especially now, give us a call or send an email. Stan Zontek, ( or Darin Bevard ( at 610-558-9066 or Keith Happ at ( at 412-341-5922

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