Dog Days Are Over, Summer Cultivation Ramps Down February 27, 2015

Dog Days Are Over, Summer Cultivation Ramps Down

By Todd Lowe – USGA Florida Region Agronomist
September 8, 2009

The dog days of summer are coming to an end and bermudagrass is breathing a sigh of relief. High heat and humidity, coupled with extended cloudy conditions stress bermudagrass putting greens. Greens often are mowed slightly higher than 1/10-inch, which does not provide much leaf area for photosynthesis. As a result, carbohydrates are pulled from the roots to make it through this stressful time. Turf thinning can occur if the root system is already compromised from low mowing, poor soil conditions, shade, or nematodes.

Not only is there relief from heat and humidity, but the intensive annual cultivation practices of core aeration and deep vertical mowing are coming to an end. This also brings relief to both golfers and golf course superintendents that bear the brunt of summer complaints of bumpy greens.

Speaking of organic matter and the need for core aeration, Dr. Lee Berndt at Edison Community College, recently published an article in Crop Science documenting thatch research that was conducted on two bermudagrass varieties in South Florida. Agronomists and other researchers have noted that ultradwarf bermudagrasses accumulate thatch faster than the older standard Tifdwarf. He found that TifEagle thatch degrades more slowly than Tifdwarf thatch. It may not be that ultradwarf bermudagrasses produce more thatch, but that their thatch simply degrades more slowly. This research helps to better explain why more cultivation practices are necessary on ultradwarf putting greens as compared to older Tifdwarf bermudagrass greens. Hopefully, researchers can one day discover a grass or a process that removes excess thatch altogether, but until then we will have to keep punching holes and backfilling with sand.

Lake levels have risen substantially over the past few months as most areas throughout Florida have received greater than average rainfall. While this has created wet conditions on many golf courses, I will take having too much water rather than stringent irrigation restrictions that have been imposed by water management districts in the past.

The Florida Turfgrass Association will host its annual conference and show Sept 16 -18. Attendance for these events has decreased with the dwindling economy over the past couple of years. Education is a continual process and should be supported by employers, as chemicals change and best management practices evolve. I hope to see you there next week.

Source: Todd Lowe, or 941-828-2625