Buckle Your Seatbelts And Strap On Your Helmets, The Season Has Begun!

By David A. Oatis, Director
July 2, 2010

When the weather data from a year is compiled, it often can be averaged out to suggest that the year was normal, but there is no such thing as a normal year for turfgrass managers in this region. Every year is different and has its own character, and each provides its own set of lessons learned. Unfortunately, there are probably more lessons that need to be learned than there are years to learn them in, and with pest problems and diseases constantly evolving, we routinely face new challenges. What will they be this year? If the last month is any indication, annual bluegrass weevils are likely to be a problem for the remainder of the year, and with the recent heat and elevated humidity levels, you can count on anthracnose and summer patch to make life miserable. Anthracnose outbreaks already have occurred at a number of courses, and I can just about smell the summer patch infecting the turf.

The good news is that bentgrass populations seem to be thriving with the early hot weather, and populations actually look to be increasing at many courses. On the other hand, the annual bluegrass has had its customary off-color yellow for the last couple of weeks. This is due partially to the end of the seeding cycle, and partially to the stressful weather. So, what can you do to increase chances for success this season? Here are a few tips:

  • Manage your water like it is gold. Check soil moisture as often as you possibly can. Use a soil probe or purchase a moisture meter that can quickly and accurately assess soil moisture. They are especially good when multiple staff members manage different greens on the golf course. Moisture assessment can be very subjective, and having a tool to precisely measure soil moisture is a great way to train new staff and keep different staff members on the same page with respect to soil moisture.
  • Supervise the syringers. Some years ago I visited a course on a particularly hot, dry day, and the superintendent and I watched three different interns syringing greens. One was full of energy and did a terrific job of walking quickly and lightly while misting the turf. The second intern looked a bit tired, walked more slowly, and clearly applied more water than the first. The third intern was an accident waiting to happen. He walked much too slowly and applied far too much water, basically turning his greens spongy. Three interns, three sets of greens, three different levels of playability, and one major set of problems for the superintendent.
  • If we’re experiencing drought conditions and you have anaerobic soils, it probably is self-induced.
  • If you don’t understand what’s in the jug, bottle or bag, do not apply it to your turf.
  • If the claims sound too good to be true, they probably are.
  • When in doubt, send a disease sample to a competent diagnostic laboratory.
  • More usually is not better. Beware of mixing too many different materials and creating detrimental side effects (e.g. turf over-regulation due to the combination of growth regulators and DMI fungicides, etc.)
  • When discussing your problems with the diagnostic laboratory or your consultant, be truthful and hold nothing back. If you provide just half of the relevant information, the suggested course of action will likely be half right.


We always hope the season will go well for everyone, but realistically, some courses will have problems. Give us a call if we can help, preferably before the damage is done. Remember, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

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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