Early Spring Or Late Spring, Superintendents Will Be Ready

By Keith Happ, senior agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
February 14, 2013

The cold winter has provided an opportunity to complete much needed tree maintenance and other course projects. Regardless if temperatures warm early this spring or late, superintendents are preparing for the start of the season.

Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring may excite the average person, but the groundhog’s shadow has little influence on golf course superintendents. What does influence the turf manager this time of year is the calendar and the fact that the golfing season is just around the corner.

This winter has been challenging throughout the region. Some have experienced snow while others have had to deal with freeze and thaw cycles that have made it difficult to access the course to complete winter projects. Nonetheless, superintendents have reported progress is still being made with these projects and course improvements are being realized. The most important thing is that golf courses will benefit from this “off-season” work. Tree work, drainage installation, irrigation pumping station upgrades, maintenance facility enhancements, equipment repair, mower sharpening and golf turf educational sessions are just a few of the projects and activities that have been completed by superintendents and their maintenance crews throughout the region. 

You may have also noticed that the days are getting longer. I for one welcome a return to more sunlight and warmer temperatures. However, this is no reason to rush spring turf maintenance programs. While Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted early warm temperatures, the actual weather experienced dictates maintenance decisions. Questions have been raised regarding pest control programs such as annual bluegrass weevil control and Poa annua seedhead suppression strategies. Whether you use a growing degree-day model or phenotypic indicator, remain focused on using best management practices to achieve the greatest return from the treatment. Be prepared, but do not be in a hurry! Never hesitate to contact us about potential new strategies, techniques and products. The USGA has and continues to fund research and product evaluations to provide turf managers with the most up-to-date information possible to grow healthy grass!

Educational opportunities are still available in the late winter. Darin Bevard and I will be presenting at the Western Pennsylvania Turf Conference and Trade Show (Feb. 26 – 28) near Pittsburgh. Click here for program and registration form.

We will also be conducting USGA Green Section regional meetings March 5 in Richmond, Va., and March 12 in Baltimore, Md. You can register by mail or online at https://www.usga.org/register (credit cards accepted) using event codes 30513 (March 5) and 31213 (March 12). We look forward to seeing you at these events. 

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question of concern, especially now, give us a call or send an email. You can reach Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org) at 610-558-9066 or Keith Happ at (khapp@usga.org) at 412-341-5922.

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