Brown – Good or Bad?

By Robert A. Brame, director, North-Central Region
August 1, 2012

Usage restrictions or the lack of water is bringing brown to the forefront. For some there will be a renewed awareness of how resilient grass plants are, and for others replanting may become necessary.

The very hot and dry July has moderated slightly moving into early August. While the heat has subsided a bit, dry conditions linger on. In fact, several courses visited recently are on the verge of running out of water. An extended lack of water can change the phrase “brown is good” to “brown is dead.” This doesn’t diminish the value of pushing toward the dry end of the continuum with normal golf turf maintenance but too dry for too long can usher in the need to replant. There will be many courses investing in replanting as we move into late summer and early fall.

July ushered in the Senior Open Championship contested at Indianwood Country Club in Lake Orion, Michigan. Mark Jackson and his staff did a super job of presenting a firm and fast golf course to test the world’s best senior players. Even though we experienced 4.5 inches of rain during advance week, Mark was able to roll with the punches and weave a large number of variables into a championship tapestry. The rain was followed by very dry conditions and all greens, approaches and fairway landing zones were maintained exclusively by hand watering and syringing. By the time we reached the championship rounds the course was drier than it had ever been maintained. It is always interesting to note how well turf acclimates to the process of gradually drying down a course while pulling back on water too quickly can result in injury. An ovation is extended to Mark and the entire Indianwood grounds staff for the long hours of hard work. 

The bacteria decline complex is once again impacting a few courses in the region. We cannot call it bacterial wilt at this point since research has yet to positively identify the exact cause of the decline. In fact, many feel that on this issue there remains more that we don’t know than what we do. It does seem that bacteria are part of a mix or complex that is causing weakening and thinning, but the specifics that will lead to control options remain unclear. There will be more to come as practitioners and scientists work together. 

The following links offer good information on other pertinent topics. 

Spray tank water pH - July 2012-Spray tank water

Turf diseases encouraged - July 2012-Summer disease  

Soil temps - July 2012-Long summer

Growth regulator losing impact - July 2012-Primo longevity

Heat taking a toll on golf turf - July 2012-Heat drought

Surviving heat dormancy - Dormant lawns

Drought and water restrictions -Drought-outlook-and-water-restriction

As always, call or email anytime to pass on what you’re experiencing or to discuss points of concern in more detail.

 

Source:  Bob Brame, bobbrame@usga.org or 859-356-3272
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