Ups And Downs Are Part Of The Business

By Keith Happ, director, North-Central Region
April 17, 2013

We have been dry and managing the soils on the dry side is a good thing. However, establish a baseline this spring for irrigation. Don’t allow the turf to become compromised as we prepare for the summer ahead.

When our last update was sent most of the region was in the grasp of a late winter blast. Many areas were still waiting for snow to melt and the soil to warm to begin spring conditioning programs. Since that regional update, we have again experienced weather extremes. Temperatures reached well into the 90’s in portions of the central and southern parts of the region. This surge in temperature promoted a rapid growth response which was welcome for some, but for others, it was not.

Poa annua seedheads are beginning to emerge. For those that treated too early, the only recourse is to try and control seed that is still in the “boot” of the plant. Once the seed emerges we cannot treat to magically reverse this natural process. Don’t panic and increase growth regulation rates and don’t retreat or tighten the treatment interval. Stay with the plan to grow the strongest grass possible; much of the season is still ahead of us. Fertilize judiciously and brush to help make the grass and seed more erect prior to mowing. Use your best judgment to get through the seeding period and don’t bruise or wound the grass. Remember that just after Poa annua produces seed it is at its weakest point in its life cycle. Significant energy reserves are used to produce seed and this energy comes from the stored reserves in the roots. While the surface may look fine, it is the roots that will determine the survival of the plant when the soils get hot. Be proactive, communicate and manage through the spring transition to summer growth. Don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

We have had confirmations of adult annual bluegrass weevil activity in portions of our region. Make every effort to wait until a consistent migration of adults occurs to implement control strategies. Use the calendar as guide but do not allow a penciled date on the calendar to dictate when the pest control is enacted. Missing the window of control for annual bluegrass weevil will only add to the potential stress that could severely damage weakened Poa annua.

Portions of the region have been very dry. This is a good thing as long as turf health is not compromised. Managing the soils on the dry side is a good idea. However, be sure to maintain a level of hydration that supports consistent, controlled growth. Keep checking soil moisture to determine the baseline levels that dictate the need for irrigation.

By now, preemergence herbicides should have been applied in most of the region unless the use of a product with postemergence activity is planned. Remember, most preemergence herbicides need to be watered in for activation. In non-irrigated areas, this means planning applications prior to rainfall. Early application should be the rule in these areas.

Source: Keith Happ (khapp@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

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