Let The Fireworks Begin

By Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
July 3, 2012

Shaded greens located in tight growing environments are always more prone to heat stress in the dog days of summer. Portable fans are becoming more common across the region to reduce high temperature stress. 

Is it me or does summer feel like it should be almost over? May be it was the lack of a real winter, the early spring or the high temperatures and humidity in June that make it seem like it should be August and not the Fourth of July holiday. Everything has been ahead of schedule including dollar spot disease, Japanese and Oriental beetle emergence, or the purple loosetrief that is now in bloom in Montreal. Most of the turf I have observed has been holding up pretty well despite the heat waves that have occurred. Annual bluegrass rooting has declined as soil temperatures climb more regularly into the 80s. The turf is now subjected to more stress but the good growing conditions early in the season resulted in better than average rooting, which has been helpful considering the heat we are now experiencing.

Annual bluegrass weevils are active and in just about every stage of development. Pythium blight has already been active and we are seeing the start of crown rot anthracnose and summer patch as would be expected with the added heat stress. A number of New England golf courses continue to battle parasitic nematodes. The symptoms from the feeding are more likely to become evident with the added heat stress. False-green kyllinga has taken advantage of the warm temperatures as it continues to work its way up the coast in Connecticut. This warm season sedge is very similar to nutsedge but produces rhizomes that form dense patches even at fairway heights of cut. It spreads quickly where moisture levels are high and may first be prevalent around pond banks. Like crabgrass and nutsedge it disappears with the first good frost. Northern managers should be prepared to manage a new weed. Fortunately we do have tools to manage the kyllinga. Field trials have shown Dismiss to be an effective herbicide to remove the kyllinga from roughs and bentgrass fairways.     

The high temperatures are impacting the plants carbohydrate reserves. The reduced reserves leave the plants less able to recover from traffic or other damage. Now is the time to turn to spoon–feeding fertility programs to keep the plants vigorous but not at the expense of root growth. A well-balanced fertilizer that provides .05 - 0.1 lb of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is a good choice where turf roots are limited. Products that contain cytokinins may improve the grass plant’s ability to survive the heat stress. Be cognizant of the higher burn potential of soluble fertilizers in the heat. Avoid using tank mixes or applying new products that you are not absolutely confident with. Pick and choose the days to practice light cultivation, brushing or topdressing programs. Keep a close watch on soil moisture using moisture meters or a soil probe. The message remains the same. This is not the time to experiment. There is just too much summer ahead of us to make an unforced error. Hunker down and survive! Heck, it’s almost Labor Day isn’t it?    

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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