Probing For Healthier Turf

By R.A. (Bob) Brame, director, North Central Region
July 5, 2011

If water management is not the primary agronomic objective with respect to golf turf conditioning, it certainly is a primary objective. The benefits of pushing toward the dry end of the continuum suggest healthier and more dependable turf.  Healthier turf and more dependable playability is an across-the-board combination of benefits, whether it be for a championship or routine conditioning.  Clearly, turfgrass will die without water, yet too much water brings a quicker decline and is more difficult to correct.  Managing to keep the surface and upper profile on the dry end requires hand watering and/or hand syringing to some degree.  Outdated and inefficient irrigation systems require more hand watering and syringing.  The art of hand watering can be difficult to teach, which presents a dilemma.  More and more courses are using soil moisture probes to address this dilemma, making it possible to put a number (volumetric water content) to visual observations.  This makes teaching the art of hand watering much easier and it also helps get everyone on the same page.  Is your course using a moisture probe to manage the turf where the game is played?  If not, they are a proven value with far reaching dividends. 

Recent visits have not revealed disease problems to any extent.  Although there has been a combination of diseases observed, most superintendents with good spray programs in place are progressing nicely.  Yet, it’s only July 1st and there’s a lot of summer ahead.  Bookmark the following link for disease forecasting information:  

Throughout the region, tree damage is being tied to the herbicide Imprelis.  If you suspect damage, review the information posted at the following links  (, and contact your sales representative, along with the company (DuPont). 

Several superintendents visited recently have summed up their season by saying, ‘it’s been a season of extremes.’  Wet, then hot, followed by snaps back to cool, and there has even been some dry thrown in for some areas.  That’s interesting, because that’s exactly what the statistics are suggesting on global climate change -- extremes are occurring more frequently and will likely continue.  Without getting bogged down in the ‘climate change’ debate, this does serve to emphasize the importance of structuring a maintenance program to provide maximum dependability during harsh times.  And yet, the tough economy continues to pull against agronomically sound and sustainable building blocks.  So, with less or poorly timed aeration, or inadequate topdressing, or reductions in pesticide spray programs, or too few staff to hand water/syringe, weather challenges are taken to a harsher level.  How about an onsite visit from your local Green Section agronomist to review your operation?  If our recommendations are followed, and we don’t save you more than you paid for the visit, it’s on us.  Call or email anytime.        

Source:  Bob Brame, or 859-356-3272


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