There Is Still Time For Course Preparation

By Elliott L. Dowling, agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region
April 30, 2014

Putting surface and soil profile management are extremely important in the spring because it impacts season-long turf health and playability. With warmer weather approaching, perform as many techniques as possible now to prepare the turf for the upcoming season.

By now, most golf facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region have completed one, if not multiple, management techniques for the putting surface and/or soil profile. These include but are not limited to core aeration, deep-tine aeration, vertical mowing and Poa annua seedhead control. 

Core aeration is beneficial to prepare the turf for the upcoming season. Combining core aeration with deep-tine aeration will further enhance turf development especially on soil-based greens. Deep-tine aeration of fine-turf areas to shatter zones of compaction and create channels for root growth can be performed as time, weather and resources permit. Small-diameter solid tines, often referred to as pencil or needle tines, improve turfgrass rooting and water infiltration while offering minimal disruption to playability.

If there is a need, vertical mow putting surfaces as long as favorable weather is present. Doing so will sever plants growing laterally and lead to more vertical growth of the turf. Ultimately, vertical growth leads to a denser stand of turf and creates smoother putting surfaces.

Other aeration treatments that may be performed are drill-and-fill aeration and sand injection. Both of these methods allow sand topdressing to be incorporated into the soil profile which ultimately helps to firm surfaces and improve water infiltration. Virtually all aeration techniques provide some surface disruption, but short-term disruption pays off with season-long benefits to turf performance and playability.

For many, it is time to apply preemergent herbicides if they have not been applied already. Proper timing of preemergent herbicides is largely dependent on soil temperature. As soil temperatures reach an average of 55°F for 24 to 48 hours, crabgrass will begin germinating. Preemergent herbicides must be applied and activated by irrigation or rainfall prior to crabgrass germination for effective control. Cold spring temperatures have dulled the sense of urgency for these applications, but time is getting short with warmer temperatures becoming the norm.

Lastly, applications to control adult annual bluegrass weevils (ABW) have been initiated in many parts of the region. Following a very cold winter, timing applications for ABW may be slightly different from past years, so scouting is critical. Scout known hot spots for activity. Once your threshold has been reached, apply an insecticide with curative control of adult ABWs to those areas.

As a reminder, the deadline to receive a $500 discount on half-day or full-day Course Consulting Service visits will end soon. Payment must be received on or before May 15, 2014, to receive the discount. No exceptions. If you would like to take advantage of this saving or need more information, please contact our office.

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

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