Is Variety Really The Spice Of Life?

By Darin S. Bevard, senior agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
July 8, 2011

Travels in the region have generally yielded turfgrass that is in good condition, but they are beginning to show signs of stress.  There are some notable exceptions, especially in southern portions of Virginia where some areas have been inundated with rain from heavy thunderstorms on an almost daily basis in the last week.  In conjunction with high temperatures, putting greens are beginning to show decline with this challenging weather combination.  Heavy rain, high temperatures and cool-season turfgrass do not go well together. 

Various Pythium root diseases, take-all patch and bacterial wilt have all been reported as the cause of decline.  If your golf course is in one of these areas that has received too much rain, remember that conservative maintenance practices are needed.  As some possibilities: 

  • Height of cut may need to be increased and mowing frequency decreased.
  •  Fungicide intervals may need to be shortened, which will impact the budget. 
  • The greens may need to be vented with small solid or coring tines to improve air exchange with the soil and promote drying.  


In short, some or all of these measures will be needed at your golf course to preserve the health of the grass.  Softer, slower greens should be expected and accepted until weather patterns change.  The alternative could be significant turfgrass decline.  Remember, slow grass is better than no grass.

Ironically, other portions of the Mid-Atlantic Region have been on the dry side in the last month.  With water under the control of the superintendent, firm and fast conditions are being provided and generally are well accepted by the golfers, in spite of a few brown spots here and there.  In many of these areas, a thunderstorm will be welcomed to give maintenance staffs a break from hand watering. 

 One does not have to go far to experience a completely different set of management conditions on golf courses because of the weather.  Be careful when comparing golf courses.  Off-color turf is not necessarily a sign of lax management.  It may be a sign that the course you are playing that day has not received rain in many days.  On the other hand, soft greens may not be a result of overwatering; the course you are playing that day may have received significant rain when others did not. 

Second generation annual bluegrass weevil adults are now very common.  If good control of first generation was not achieved, damage can quickly develop in the centers of fairways as well as the edges.  Even if you have creeping bentgrass fairways, do not rest easily.  Damage from annual bluegrass weevil in creeping bentgrass has increased in the past couple of years.  Be prepared to apply an insecticide to control adult populations if they are noted on your golf course.

The dog days of summer are upon us.  The longest, hottest days coupled with the warmest, shortest nights provide the most challenging conditions for maintaining cool-season grasses.  Conservative maintenance practices should be employed, especially on putting greens.  This does not mean that well-paced greens cannot be maintained.  It does mean that on some of these long, hot days the greens may not be as fast as they were in May and June.

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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