Dry, Seeding, Leaves And Planning

By R.A. (Bob) Brame, director, North Central Region
November 2, 2010

Despite a few dust-settlers and a couple of cold fronts, with little to no rainfall moving through since my last update, a significant portion of the lower North Central Region (IN, KY and OH) continues to battle drought.  Indiana is the most severely impacted, with all counties in the state experiencing some level of drought (http://drought.unl.edu/dm/DM_midwest.htm). This continues to make seed germination an exercise-in-futility in the rough, where irrigation coverage is poor or non-existent.  The take-home message is straightforward – recovery from rough-related weakening/loss will extend into 2011 for many courses in the region.  This reality needs to be communicated to golfers and factored into the 2011 operating budget.  Dormant seeding may be an option to consider (http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/2010/10182010_seeding.html), but the end result will likely be less-than-desired rough through much of the spring.

The very difficult summer weather was the primary issue behind the extensive rough-related turf loss this season; however, the loss was more intense outside irrigation coverage and on southern-facing slopes (e.g. photo).  To improve maintenance flexibility in the future, there may be value in adding or expanding irrigation coverage.  This is particularly true when specific sites commonly weaken under summer stress and are heavily in play.  Irrigation coverage will not change the added stress that south-facing slopes experience, but it does add the ability to water properly and even run syringe cycles for daytime cooling.  The grass selection should also be considered, and some courses have had success with zoysiagrass on southern-facing slopes around greens, even when predominate rough composition consists of cool-season grasses.  Although it is common to find a mix of bluegrass (perennial and annual) and turf-type tall fescue rough, the turf-type tall fescue will handle dry better than bluegrass.   

Leaf cleanup has kicked-in to make it even more difficult to restore roughs because staff and equipment are needed elsewhere.  If it’s not already part of your program, consider the benefits of simply mulching leaves into the turf rather than removing them.(http://www.agry.purdue.edu/turf/tips/2010/10182010_leaves.html).  

As the season winds down, take the time to carefully consider where adjustments are needed to improve dependability next year.  In other words, budgeting for 2011 should incorporate lessons learned in 2010 – harsh weather will come again.  The conferences ahead can aid the review process as can your local Green Section agronomist – call or email anytime. 

The KTC Turf Conference in Bowling Green, KY has already come and gone.  Next up is the Ohio Turfgrass Conference and Show during the 2nd week of December in Columbus, OH (http://www.ohioturfgrass.org/ohio-turfgrass-foundation-conference-and-show-general-information.php).  Hope to see you there.

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


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