Fall Is A Great Time Of Year For Grass And Golf! February 27, 2015

Fall Is A Great Time Of Year For Grass And Golf!

Darin S. Bevard, senior director
October 9, 2009

The first prolonged period of cool temperatures has been accompanied with a drier weather pattern.  Leaves are falling and are being cleaned-up daily to minimize their impact on playability.  Yes, fall is here, and golfers are enjoying some of the best playing conditions they have seen all season.  There is still a lot of time to enjoy your favorite course.

One problem that continues to plague golf courses is earthworm casts, especially in fairways.  The cooler weather with some timely rainfall has provided ideal conditions for earthworm casting activities.  There is little that can be done to reduce casting activities, but maintenance programs can be implemented to reduce the impacts that these casts cause.  Mowing fairways when they are dry can reduce the smearing of worm casts and limit the amount of grass that is affected.  It also reduces the impacts on mowing quality.  In some cases, dragging fairways prior to mowing will help to breakup casts.  Remember, if you have a bad earthworm casting problem, slightly increasing nitrogen fertility will increase the grass growth rate allowing better recover.  Earthworm activity is a sign of good soil, but it can create problems for maintenance and playability.

In the southern portion of the region, bermudagrass fairway overseeding has begun at the few facilities that still use this practice.  Pre-seeding applications of sulfonyl urea herbicides to control Poa annua have been performed or soon will be.  Be careful with the timing of these applications.  In more than one instance, these herbicides have been tracked onto bentgrass greens with mowers and/or foot traffic.  Yellow, thinning turf can cause any superintendent to lose sleep.  In most instances, the damage has been superficial, but be sure that these products have a chance to dry on the turf before they are traversed by maintenance or golfer traffic.

Now is a good time to take a look at tree plantings and their impact on fine turf areas.  We often focus on sunlight penetration during the summer months, when in fact, fall and winter sunlight is every bit as important.  Often times, poor growing environments compound problems, especially on putting greens.  Bad growing environments produce weak turf.  These are the first greens to experience mechanical damage and other problems that lead to a decline in playability.  During the fall when weather is favorable for recovery, sunlight penetration to these greens is generally worse because of the sun angle that slows recovery.  If trees are not removed to improve the growing environ-ment, this cycle will repeat itself to some degree year after year.  Evaluate morning shade patterns on greens and consider tree removal for the benefit of the grass that the game is played on.

Hopefully, the fall weather continues to be reasonable to maximize golf participation.  With the wet spring and summer weather, many golf courses need it!

Always remember, the Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail.  Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/341-5922.