Training For Next Year’s Fight

By Bob Brame, director, North-Central Region
October 2, 2012

 Core aeration and the complete filling of the holes with sand will yield reasonably good playability the next day. Timely completion will also accommodate good rooting and quick turf recovery over holes.

Golf turf managers are very aware that maintenance work done in the fall will directly impact turf quality and dependability the following summer. As such, it has been very good to find that aeration of greens has been completed on many courses visited in recent weeks, while others are in the process of initiating this important maintenance practice. Keep in mind, if core aeration is done with quality machines that punch straight into the surface, i.e., completely vertical, and open channels are completely backfilled with sand, playability the next day will be reasonably good. 

When scheduling fall aeration, it is important to complete the work early enough for the turf to completely grow over aeration holes prior to the onset of winter. Timely completion will also accommodate good rooting down the aeration channels. That said, it is better to core aerate greens later in the fall than to not do the work at all. If politics or conflicting schedules make it absolutely impossible to complete core aeration when maximum agronomic value will be achieved, don’t give up. Do the work when it is possible. Clearly, this can be a slippery slope in that any suggestion that later is doable may be grabbed as perfectly acceptable by those scheduling or participating in fall golfing events. Nonetheless, removing plugs and filling the channels allows a portion of the upper profile to be modified anytime the work is done. The message is straightforward – core aerate your greens when you will achieve quickest recovery and maximum agronomic value, but when this simply cannot be done do the work later rather than not doing it at all. 

As we end the third hot summer in a row, it would be wise to plan for a fourth. This means correcting issues that compromised turf quality and/or playability this year as opposed to hoping for less intense weather next season. This need becomes very pointed when considering microenvironments and the negative impact that trees can inflict on turf. If you had one or two weak greens it is likely tied to a compromised microenvironment. When this is the case, change the microenvironment. Remove trees and/or install fans to ensure positive air movement across the turf surface. Focus additional tree removal and trimming efforts toward allowing for the best possible morning sunlight penetration. Prepare for tough conditions in the future and if it doesn’t happen then all the better. If it does you’ve established a strong foundation to prevent or at least minimize turf loss. Another tough season has made all turf managers ready for some pullback this fall. While that is now possible to a certain extent, don’t close the book on 2012 just yet. 

As always, don’t hesitate to contact your Green Section agronomist to review any or all aspects of your maintenance program, or to simply get an unbiased perspective on any area of concern. We are always available. 

Source:  Bob Brame, or 859-356-3272

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