And You Thought 2010 Was a Tough Year!!!

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
August 18, 2011

Bentgrass thriving in a sea of dying Poa annua. 

Depending on your location, your golf course may have experienced winter injury, torrential spring rains, a few weeks of mild weather, and then record-breaking July heat interspersed with a few more heavy rain events. Even August hasn’t been easy.  And let’s not forget the two to three generations of annual bluegrass weevils that have chewed their way through annual bluegrass populations and a little bentgrass at many courses this year.  Not surprisingly, plenty of golf courses have experienced problems as a result of the extreme weather conditions. 

Diagnostic laboratories have been overrun with disease samples, and outbreaks of summer patch and anthracnose both have been very common.  ‘Abiotic stress’ has been a common diagnosis, and in plenty of cases, annual bluegrass has just run out of gas.  As is usually the case this time of year, annual bluegrass is the species that is failing most often.  This is a good year to have more bentgrass!

Despite all of this, there are plenty of success stories.  Courses that installed drainage clearly are seeing the benefits this year.  The same goes for courses that improved their grass growing environments by tree removal and the installation of electric fans.  Some courses that have had good results with fans now are looking to install more or larger fans because of their obvious benefit.  Courses that implemented aggressive cultivation and soil modification programs on their greens also have benefited. 

With the renovation window upon us, a word of caution is appropriate.  Now is a terrific time to aerate and get seed into the ground in damaged areas, but do so with at least one eye on the weather.  Aerators can kick off more disease activity, and we are at great risk for damage from those high-sky, low-humidity days where turfgrass plants lose water through their leaves far faster than they can extract it from the soil with their weakened root systems.  We have already had a couple of those days, and we have the potential for more.  Just because it rained yesterday or last night does not mean that turf cannot wilt this afternoon.  Keep scouting for weevils, and beware of late August summer patch infections that might catch you unaware. 

As always, do not hesitate to give our office a call if we can help in any way.  Our visiting schedule still is busy, but we can always fit you in if there is a problem.

Source:  Northeast Region Green Section- Dave Oatis, Director doatis@usga.org; Adam Moeller, Agronomist amoeller@usga.org Jim Skorulski, Senior Agronomist jskorulski@usga.org. 

 

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