The Time Has Come

By Elliott L. Dowling, agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
August 21, 2013

Areas such as this are prime candidates for drainage installation this fall. The addition of perforated drain tile will provide long-term benefits and prove especially valuable during difficult, rainy seasons.

For many, August 15th signifies the beginning of the end of the season. It came and went as gently as a mouse, so let’s hope late August and September does not strike like a lion. As fall approaches, the focus on daily maintenance must be maintained. Many remember the gray leaf spot (Pyricularia grisea) outbreak around Labor Day of 2012. However, late summer and early fall is a time to evaluate broader issues of overall maintenance operations. 

Cultural practices implemented in the fall promote quicker recovery from summer stress and potentially safeguard turf from similar issues in the future. For many, this season clearly showed where surface and sub-surface drainage is lacking. Fall is the perfect time to undertake those much needed (and sometimes neglected) drainage projects. Areas such as low spots in fairways and approaches are ideal candidates for additional drain tile. Sand channel drainage may be a consideration for trouble greens or fairways that need to move massive amounts of water. 

Hopefully, many of you have aeration on the schedule soon or perhaps you have already completed this important practice. After a busy season of play, intensely managed turf welcomes the relief provided from core aeration. Properly timed aeration provides numerous benefits to turfgrass quality, health and reliability. Soil compaction from a busy golf schedule and routine maintenance can deprive roots of oxygen and limit their growth. Opening channels in the soil and backfilling with sand topdressing promotes root growth and development. Additionally, incorporating sand into the soil profile will aid in compaction resistance and help preserve water infiltration in the future. 

Fall is the time to assess the agronomic plan in place. Did it work? What didn’t work? What needs adjusting? These are all questions you should ask yourself. If areas of the agronomic plan fell short, try to figure out why. Also, take advantage of fall and winter turf conferences. Educational conferences provide the opportunity to interact with peers following another season and to keep current with the latest agronomic programs, equipment and products. 

Source: Elliott L. Dowling (edowling@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

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