Here Comes the Growing Season

By Darin S. Bevard, senior agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
March 12, 2012

It’s only early March, but warmer than normal temperatures have accelerated the demand for course conditions in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Superintendents can only do so much until the grass really starts growing. Additionally, winter projects may still need to be completed, limiting available resources for early course grooming. 

In the last Mid-Atlantic update, Stan Zontek discussed potential consequences of our “no winter” winter in this region. Little did we know that we would be finding some of the answers to these questions so quickly! Above normal temperatures have continued, and we have been flooded with questions regarding annual bluegrass weevil activity and Poa annua seedhead emergence. These are normally questions for the latter part of March or even early April. In the southern part of the region, bermudagrass is beginning to green-up which has brought some winter weed control programs to a halt much earlier than normal. The good news in all of this is that observed rooting in putting greens has been exceptional overall. Both root depth and density have been good for this early point in the growing season.

Annual bluegrass weevil activity has been noted throughout our region in the last 7 to 10 days. On warmer days, populations have been on the move. When should treatments be applied? It is hard to say because we cannot predict the weather. However, with the warmer than normal weather trend continuing, it is safe to say that applications will be earlier than usual. Phenological indicators such as the half green/half gold stage of Forsythia are still important. Growing degree models should also be monitored to provide a guideline for treatment timing. However, aggressive scouting should remain an important part in determining timing of insecticide applications. Keep in mind that the goal is to control female adults before they lay their eggs, not necessarily as soon as they emerge. There is little precedent for treatment strategies following this warm of a winter in much of our region. Relatively speaking, the weevil is a new and expanding problem in much of the Mid-Atlantic Region, and we still have a lot to learn.

The same can be said of Poa annua seedhead control. Poa annua seedhead emergence has been observed in roughs and fairways into Pennsylvania in the last week or so. We have had the opportunity to discuss this topic with some of the researchers that have done much of the work related to Poa annua seedhead control, and their consensus answer has been, “Not sure. Good luck.” The flowering of Poa annua may be extended this spring, so seedhead control expectations must be reasonable considering this weather.

On bermudagrass, the biggest concern is early green-up followed by a hard frost. This scenario would not be catastrophic by any means. However, it could slow the development of bermudagrass in the early spring if green leaves are hit by heavy frost. Weed control may also be complicated as applications of certain herbicides could negatively impact spring green-up as well.

The final challenge that we are seeing at golf courses is wrapping up winter projects. With the warm weather, the need for golf course conditioning is clashing with completing other winter work. In many cases, staff size is still small. Some patience will be needed, but hopefully we can all enjoy the warmer than normal temperatures if they continue.

There is still time to register for our 2012 Green Section Regional Meetings! These meetings are a special opportunity for course staff, officials, committee members and interested golfers to attend a USGA meeting covering a wide range of topics on golf and turf. CEU credits are available for GCSAA, CMAA and PGA.

Tuesday, March 20th               Oakmont CC                           Oakmont, PA                          Event Code: 032012

Tuesday, March 27th               DuPont CC                             Wilmington, DE                      Event Code: 32712

Online Registration:  Credit Cards Accepted 


Just a gentle reminder, 2012 invoices and profile forms for the Turf Advisory Service have been mailed. If you have not received this mailing, or if you would like information on how to arrange for a visit to your facility, please feel free to contact our offices. Once again, a $600 savings is available if payment is received prior to May 15, 2012.

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail. You can reach Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/ 341-5922.


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