What Is Good For The Goose May Not Be Good For The Gander

By Keith Happ, director, North Central Region
June 24, 2013

Bermudagrass has been slow to grow this spring and early summer. With the change in weather there will come an opportunity to stimulate controlled growth.

The saying, “What is good for the goose is good for the gander.” states that something that is good for one should be good for all. Well, recent TAS visits have provided evidence that cool-season grasses are flourishing with the cooler temperatures and the timely rains experienced to date. However, what is good for cool-season grass is not always good for warm-season grasses. Bermudagrass growth has been slow, particularly on areas overseeded with perennial ryegrass. Superintendents are still waiting for the grass to transition to a dominant stand of bermudagrass for summer play. With the longer days, the grass will respond allowing treatments such as slice aeration and core aeration to further promote growth. The grass needs to grow aggressively to provide optimal playing quality. Provide adequate nitrogen fertility, but do not force the grass to grow by over-fertilizing; this may only lead to frustration with excessive clipping yields.

Playing quality on putting greens has been excellent thus far this season. Timely aeration combined with judicious water management has led to healthy and well-rooted putting green grasses offering very consistent conditions. June is the time when we begin to experience higher nighttime temperatures. The days are longer so there is more warming from the sun. These conditions place a great deal of emphasis on how water is applied to turf. Begin benchmarking your conditions and the need for irrigation water. Invest in the technology to monitor soil moisture whether it is for surface firmness or for plant health. Taking the time to check soil moisture with the new moisture probes may save on water and labor costs. Contact our offices if there are questions about these tools. It is never too early to alter programs to manage the turf for firm and enjoyable playing quality.

Without doubt, what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander. When temperatures heat up to benefit warm-season grasses, this will place stress on cool season-turf. This is the conundrum of turfgrass management in the transition zone. Regardless of whether you have warm-season or cool-season turfgrass surfaces, at some point, there will be challenges.

Keith Happ khapp@usga.org

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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