Is Your Bermudagrass Handling The Wet Weather This Fall?
This fall has produced unusual weather conditions – a predominance of rain, extended wet conditions, and extensive cloudy conditions for most of the lower Mid-Continent Region. On one hand, the rain has certainly been a welcomed sight for many who had suffered extended drought, but others had experienced adequate and even above-annual rainfall at the same time. Even areas of extended drought have experienced bermudagrass challenges this fall due to the prolonged periods of saturated soil and the continued cloudy days.
As temperatures have fluctuated between cool and rather warm for October, leaf spot and even some cases of pythium have been seen on bermudagrass greens, collars, and hybrid fairways. Superintendents with bermudagrass greens have been especially concerned because the saturated soil and lack of sunlight have diminished the quality of playing surfaces at a time of the year when the semi-dormant bermudagrass normally provides excellent playing surfaces. This weather is producing conditions that cause many of the un-overseeded bermudagrass greens to react as if it were late January/early February condition.
If your bermudagrass greens or collars continue to stay extremely wet in the upper portions of the soil, then venting with the small solid tine would be beneficial to break the surface tension or the organic zone and allow the surface to better drain. This is being experienced with greens that were not aerated in August and thus have a much greater tendency for sealing in the fall when these weather extremes persist. The wettest areas may have to be hand spiked, but the effort is worth it. Rolling after spiking will smooth the surfaces nicely.
A preventative contact and systemic would also be beneficial now, as September’s "dog days of summer" are common times for bermudagrass disease problems when humidity and cloudy days persist. This is why late August aeration is so good for bermudagrass greens, followed by the preventative fungicide for the difficult weather that may be upcoming for bermudagrass on into the fall. Regular applications of iron sulfate at about 2 oz./1000 sq. ft. are also beneficial for bermudagrass through the fall and early winter. Begin these applications again in late winter.
Bentgrass, in many respects, has seen the same struggles this fall with a lack of sunshine and saturated soils. Although the bentgrass has tolerated this better than the semi-dormant bermudagrass, it has restricted fall root development of the bentgrass. Spiking and applications of potash would be most beneficial in helping offset the difficult weather conditions for the bentgrass and promote as much root development as possible for the balance of fall.
If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, please contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices listed on this web site: Bud White, (972) 662-1138 or (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ty McClellan, email@example.com or (630) 340-5853. We look forward to being of service to you and your club.