For most areas of the southeastern United States, it’s been a wet summer with an overabundance of rainfall. At this point in the year, as students are going back to school and college football has resumed, it can be especially helpful to review golf course priorities.
If your course has bermudagrass putting greens, core aeration has likely been completed or is nearing completion. That doesn’t mean that continued solid-tine aeration and sand topdressing won’t be beneficial. Read the USGA article, “Aeration and Topdressing for the 21st Century,” for more information.
For courses with bentgrass putting greens, the arrival of cooler evenings and shorter days is welcomed and creates more opportunities for aeration, topdressing and fertilization to help weak areas recover and grow more roots prior to the onset of winter.
Consider taking several samples from the weakest areas of your weakest greens and submit them for disease diagnosis. Take these samples immediately prior to a fungicide application or at least 10 to 14 days after the most recent application. The results can provide guidance as to the source of the issues.
Compare fungicide applications made last year with those made this year. Has anything changed? Have disease issues and turf quality improved or worsened? Now is a good time to review your fungicide program and to consider making any changes prior to booking early order purchases this fall.
Nematodes start to migrate upward in the soil profile as temperatures decrease, making fall a good time to take samples for nematode analysis. Sample one of your worst greens, one of your best greens and one green that is representative of the average condition of your greens. Submit the samples for analysis and compare the results. For more information, read the USGA article, “Nematodes - How Do I Know If I Have A Problem?”
Fairways and Roughs
With the really cold winter and delayed spring this year, summer weed control has been better than during most years since herbicides tend to break down slower in cooler temperatures. Before the cooldown of fall comes and bermudagrass and zoysiagrass growth slows, now is a good time to consider spot treatments of postemergence herbicides before weed populations produce more seed.
Over the years, many golf courses have ceased winter overseeding, instead opting to use colorants. Now is the time to start lowering mowing heights and applying plant growth regulators to increase turf density and help non-overseeded turf provide quality playing surfaces through winter.
Fall fertilization is one of the most important processes of the year. As summer winds to an end, turf enters a critical period during which it begins to store carbohydrates for the fall and winter. Send soil samples from your strongest and weakest areas to a laboratory for analysis before deciding which nutrients to apply.
Now is the time to begin preparations to prevent both large patch and spring dead spot. These diseases tend to occur in the same areas each year, so consider preventative spot treatments in problematic areas to reduce fungicide applications. It may also be worth considering alternative fungicides. There are many new, cost-effective options that use the same active ingredients as more expensive products.
Late summer is a good time to collect as much information as possible so you can be as prepared as possible for the fall and winter season.
Southeast Region Agronomists:
Chris Hartwiger, director, USGA Course Consulting Service – firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Kammerer, regional director – email@example.com
Patrick M. O’Brien, agronomist – firstname.lastname@example.org
Addison Barden, agronomist – email@example.com