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Two Regions In One July 1, 2016 By Addison Barden, agronomist, Northeast Region

Dry, wilted turf is easily damaged by cart traffic during drought conditions. 

The Northeast Region is currently divided by abnormally dry conditions in the north and frequent, sometimes severe, summer thunderstorms in the south. Both situations present challenges for golf course superintendents.


Northern Half of the Region

The United States Department of Agriculture has categorized almost three-quarters of the northern half of the Northeast Region as being abnormally dry or in moderate drought conditions as of June 21. The areas experiencing a moderate drought are primarily in the New York Metropolitan Area and along the New England coast. Use these water management tools and consider developing a drought emergency plan at your golf course. The basic steps for developing a drought emergency plan are:

1.   Use a map of the property to determine the acreage of fine-turf areas, such as greens, approaches, fairways and tees.

2.   Locate historical water use records to determine how much water is needed to irrigate each fine turf area.

3.   Develop a prioritized list for irrigation scheduling so that a plan is in place for which areas will receive water if rationing is initiated.

4.   Communicate your drought emergency plan to facility stakeholders, golfers and course officials.

Dry conditions also lower the threshold for annual bluegrass weevil (ABW) damage and could alter the timing and efficacy of preventative insecticide applications for white grub control. Healthy turfgrass can tolerate higher pest populations than stressed turfgrass, and the current dry conditions could make turfgrass more susceptible to ABW or white grub damage. Regular scouting with soap flushes, traps, soil core sampling and visual examination are vital for distinguishing between drought-stressed turfgrass and ABW or white grub damage.

Preventative applications for white grub control are right around the corner at most courses. However, if turfgrass is dormant because of drought conditions it may not uptake systemic active ingredients. To avoid issues, record the location of dormant turfgrass at the time of treatment so that you know which areas may be vulnerable to white grub damage later this year.


Southern Half of the Region

The southern half of the Northeast Region has been receiving frequent summer storms with large amounts of rain over short periods of time. West Virginia experienced a devastating storm that dropped 7 inches of rain in three hours, producing severe floods in several counties. Our thoughts and well-wishes are with those affected by the devastating flooding. Maintenance departments in areas fortunate to avoid recent flooding are maintaining healthy turf and good playing conditions, even if they are somewhat strained by repairing bunker washouts.

It is important to remember that there still is a lot of golf to be played this season. Regularly venting putting greens will help offset the negative effects of prolonged excess soil moisture without disrupting playability. Additionally, the second generation of ABWs has begun to develop and soon we will know how well their development is synchronized. Continue to scout for ABW while minimizing pyrethroid use.


Northeast Region Agronomists:

David A. Oatis, regional director –

Adam Moeller, director, Green Section Education –

James E. Skorulski, agronomist –

Elliott Dowling, agronomist –

Addison Barden, agronomist –

Paul Jacobs, agronomist –

Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service 

Contact the Green Section Staff

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