Can You Believe It??? February 27, 2015

Can You Believe It???

By David A. Oatis, Director
August 18, 2009

Every year has its own character, and seasons often are memorable for one reason or another. Usually they are memorable for all of the wrong reasons: i.e. bad weather (heat, humidity, drought, monsoon…). I always remember the summer of 1988. It was the toughest year of any I can remember, and I saw more dead grass that summer than I had in my entire life. We had it all that year, and if the heat, drought or floods didn’t cause you problems, the atrazine- contaminated fungicides did. Not surprisingly, all other years are measured against 1988 in my mind.

Well, 2009 has certainly been a peculiar year, but not for the normal reasons. It started with winter injury in many areas, and Murphy’s Law suggests this should have been followed by a cold spring. Oh wait, it was! Then, we should have had a really hot summer with loads of rain and tremendous disease pressure! Okay, here is where Murphy’s Law was not followed. Rainfall has been abundant (ridiculously so) in most areas I’ve traveled this year (especially on Long Island in June), but temperatures have been mild for most of the summer.

In fact, this has been the best summer I can remember for those growing Poa annua. Bentgrass always fares better than Poa in the summer, but not this year. Surprisingly, temperatures have been so mild, and we’ve had so much rain and so many overcast days that Poa has actually performed better than bentgrass in many areas. Thus, a few courses with lots of bentgrass have had some problems, and this has been a function of the moisture and lack of sunlight. We have certainly seen drainage problems and there has been plenty of mechanical damage caused by rolling and mowing under wet conditions. Dollar spot pressure has been high and some courses have struggled with root Pythium. Moss populations have taken off (or rebounded if you’ve had it before), but, in general, annual bluegrass has performed well this year, and thankfully, widespread turf problems have been absent thus far. Let’s hope it stays that way.

As I write this update, the temperatures and humidity levels are just about at their season highs, so perhaps I’m jinxing us all. However, once we’re past the August 15 point, pressures usually abate a bit. Maybe we’re in for a stretch of tough weather, but hopefully it won’t last long.

Aerators are getting tune-ups and many courses are getting ready to start the fall cultivation work. After years of research, I have concluded that for most golfers, there is no good time to aerate. However, cultivation is vitally important to turf health. Short cutting cultivation programs now will increase your chances of having problems in the future. The old oil filter commercial is especially apropos: "pay me now or pay me (more) later."

Have a great fall season and don’t hesitate to call if we can help you.

Northeast Region Green Section- Dave Oatis, director; Adam Moeller, agronomist; Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist