No March Or April Showers, But Still May Flowers!

By Derf Soller, agronomist, Northwest Region
May 10, 2012

Spring Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visits are well underway at golf facilities throughout the region. Colorado just experienced its driest March on record and many courses are receiving an abundance of early season play. Revenues are up at most public golf facilities and private clubs are seeing a good turnout of golfers as well.

Superintendents and staff have been very busy as turfgrass began growing much earlier than normal this year. While it is great for golfers and a welcomed early season bump in revenues, maintenance crews have been struggling to keep up with mowing since few facilities, until just recently, have reached their full summer staffing levels. Mowing this early in the year has, at many facilities, required the maintenance crews to postpone projects that were planned for completion this spring. With a fixed number of labor hours available, and because of the increase in early season maintenance activities and course setup duties, only so much can be done. It is important for golfers to understand the situation and exercise patience as golf courses progress to mid-season form.

The dry weather obviously brings irrigation challenges that the staff can struggle to meet. Many superintendents across the country have found moisture meters very helpful not only to identify moisture needs but also to help in staff training. Although most often used for putting greens, moisture meters can greatly aid watering practices across all areas of the golf course. And, with water already at a record low in some areas, these devices not only help protect plant health, they can save water by accurately and safely assisting staff members decide when and if watering may be delayed.  Even extending irrigation intervals by one day can reduce power consumption of pump stations and make the most efficient use of available water. For a great article on the benefits of utilizing moisture meters for irrigating golf course turf please read Identify Soil Moistue More Accurately Than Ever Before.

With the early arrival of spring, Poa annua (annual bluegrass) has already begun to flower. Like many aspects of turf maintenance this year, seedhead production is earlier than normal. Timing applications for seedhead suppression is variable from one year to the next and this year early applications of products was needed to reduce the amount of seed that this sometimes pesky turfgrass produces.

The Northwest region of the USGA Green Section is available to make course visits to help review your maintenance programs.  Contact Larry Gilhuly, director (lgilhuly@usga.org) or Derf Soller, agronomist (dsoller@usga.org) for more information or to schedule a visit. Wendy Schwertfeger, administrative assistant may also be reached for information at 208.732.0280 or wendys@usga.org.

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