Seasonal Transitions

By Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
June 25, 2013

Another wave of heat and humidity has reached the Northeast Region. The transition to an abrupt heat wave is never easy, especially when it occurs in the wake of the record precipitation and moderate temperatures we have experienced in recent weeks. Squeegees are put aside for moisture meters and hoses. Once promising root systems seem to vanish overnight. Ah yes, summer is finally here. The golfers are happy anyway.     

The transition to the heat of summer can be tricky especially with the precipitation pattern that has set up over the Northeast. The turf has been growing in fairly cool and wet conditions for several weeks. Lush annual bluegrass plants that are less adapted for the abrupt change suffer the most. Turf growing on poorly drained sites also typically struggles due to its compromised root system. Disease pressure increases. Managers are forced into a more defensive mindset at least until the weather pattern breaks. This is a bad time to make a mistake and the summer has just begun.

There have been a number of reports of above threshold counts of stunt and lance nematodes on golf courses. Symptoms from the feeding are likely to become more apparent with the added stress brought on by the heat. A nematode assay is the only way to determine if there is a potential problem. A soil probe should be used to pull soil samples from areas expressing potential symptoms. Assays can be completed at the University of Massachusetts or University of Rhode Island for a nominal fee. Managers are trying to deal with the nematodes with holistic products, strong cultural practices, or spot applications of Nemacur if they still have it in inventory. Dr. Nathaniel Mitkowski, University of Rhode Island, reports that the product Avid is showing promising results for nematode suppression. Unfortunately, the product is not yet available in Northeastern states. Hopefully, that will change.  

The wet weather pattern is likely to make things very interesting on golf courses should it continue into the summer season. A combination of wet weather and heat is often lethal especially where annual bluegrass, poor growing environments and limited drainage are paired with high expectations and a busy golf calendar. All the more reason to consider upgrading course infrastructure to create conditions that will make it possible to provide more consistent playing surfaces over a wider range of weather conditions.

We encourage you to give us a call if the transition to summer is not going as hoped or you are considering options to upgrade your facility. Stay dry, stay cool, and most important; stay focused. 

Source: Jim Skorulski (jskorulski@usga.org)

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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