Water, Overseeding And Bermudagrass Encroachment Are Hot Topics In The Southwest

By Pat Gross, director, Southwest Region
August 21, 2013

(L) The rising cost of water in the Southwest Region is having a major impact maintenance budgets, with some golf facilities spending anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million or more for water. (R) Bermudagrass fairways and roughs that are overseeded each fall are usually at their worst in August as the perennial ryegrass fades away revealing a weak stand of bermudagrass beneath.

Water, bermudagrass encroachment into greens and deciding whether or not to overseed in the fall top the list of discussion topics during recent Turf Advisory Service visits in the Southwest. Following is a brief summary of pertinent issues facing golf facilities at this time of year:

  • The rising cost of water is impacting golf course budgets – Many golf facilities are feeling the pinch of increased water costs this year. Not only have prices increased 5 to 10 percent, but overall irrigation usage is up because of limited rainfall during this past winter. It has been alarming to hear that expenditures for water will reach $500,000 this year at some facilities, with a few courses spending in excess of $1 million for water.
  • Bermudagrass encroachment into greens – Bermudagrass growth really got going in July, and superintendents are using a variety of strategies to control encroachment into greens including: frequent edging and handpicking stolons; spot treatment with selective herbicides; and sodding/plugging to physically remove bermudagrass infestations.
  • To overseed or not in the fall? – Golf facilities that overseed their bermudagrass fairways and rough in the fall are usually at their worst during the month of August. The overseeded perennial ryegrass has faded by this time resulting in bare patches where the underlying bermudagrass has not fully recovered. With each successive year of overseeding, approximately 10 percent of the underlying bermudagrass base is lost resulting in bigger bare patches every year. While some courses continue to overseed each fall, the steady trend over the past five years has been to suspend overseeding and manage the dormant bermudagrass throughout the winter, which has saved water and money. An increasing number of golf facilities have experimented with various green pigments and turf colorants to provide a green appearance during the winter, and many intend to do the same again this winter.

Source: Pat Gross  pgross@usga.org

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