April Showers

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
April 25, 2012

April showers finally arrived last week, and many areas of the region received a couple of inches or more of much needed rainfall. It is hard to imagine drought conditions and forest fires with last fall’s historic floods so fresh in our minds. However, the lack of rainfall, combined with extremely low humidity levels, strong winds and higher-than-normal temperatures, have superintendents scrambling. Some courses already have had to begin the expensive process of purchasing water. 

Even though temperatures have been well above normal, conditions have been so dry that disease problems have been relatively scarce with the exception of Waitea Patch (i.e., brown ring patch). Turfgrass root systems appear to be better than normal at many courses and, in general, turf seems to be performing well. 

This season already has a roller coaster feel to it and with several potentially stressful months ahead for both the turf and turfgrass managers this is a good time to take a deep breath and reflect on the keys to having a good season: 

  • Control what you can control:
    • Water more deeply and less frequently. Weather does not always allow us to “train the turf” as we would like, but this spring it has been an ideal time to implement this method.
    • Don’t forget fertility. A couple of light granular applications of fertilizer in the spring can help reduce the threat of anthracnose for the entire season.
    • Consider your grass-growing environments. There is still time to do tree work or to install a fan. In pocketed environments where air movement is problematic, fans are invaluable. For more information on fans click review the article Using Turf Fans in the Northeast 
    • Experiment carefully. It is great to try new products and practices, but do not try them on a wholesale basis if they involve risk. Try new products and techniques on a limited basis to see how they work in your situation first.
    • When in doubt, leave a check plot. A great deal can be learned from leaving small, untreated areas when applying fertilizers, fungicides, growth regulators, herbicides, etc. There is no better way to assess what the products are actually doing for you, and if budgets are a problem, check plots are a great way to justify the use of these products.
    • Moisture meters cannot replace visual observation, but they are a great supplemental tool. If you have not purchased one yet, be sure to do so and incorporate into your management program right away.


The pre-payment discount deadline of May 15 is rapidly approaching. If you intend on taking a Turf Advisory Service visit this year, be sure to pay for the visit before the deadline to take advantage of the $600 discount. Also note that as long as one visit is paid for before May 15, the discount is good for any additional TAS visits made in 2012.


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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