Cooler Weather Means Recovery

With cooler nights and drier days, turf across New England is beginning to recover from the high heat and humidity of the end of July.  As night-time temperatures continue to decrease into the 50’s, turfgrass plant health and vigor will improve.  However, plants that have seen significant root atrophy from difficult summer conditions and high humidity will not bounce back immediately.  Root growth requires time.  If you have experienced significant summer damage, the best strategy is to cut high, vent frequently and ensure adequate fertilizer levels.  Overseeding is also usually required.  Greens speed will likely decrease but sacrificing speed now will ensure quicker recovery into September.

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Categories: Weekly Update

Humidity Sucks

There is no better way to put it than to say that for bentgrass, humidity sucks.  Bentgrass declines rapidly when dew points reach 65-70°.   When air humidity is high for extended time periods, bentgrass stops moving water out of the soil.  The process of evapotranspiration stops and plants essentially stew in their own juices.  Roots suffocate and plants thin and die. Pocketed and shaded greens suffer first and suffer fast. Poa does fine.  It’s a weed and has no problem with saturation. That is its preferred condition and why most push-ups are Poa.  People often think that it is heat that kills bentgrass but this is not strictly true.  Shadow Creek in Las Vegas is a great example.  With bentgrass tees and greens, it performs flawlessly, even in 105° heat.  But as the saying goes “It’s a dry heat!”  Obviously, not all CBG varieties are suited to that level of heat but in general, wet soil and wet air kill bentgrass, not heat.  So punch some holes and pull out the fans.  And lets hope this is a short summer….

Categories: Weekly Update

Don’t forget wetting agent applications

Even though it is currently very humid in the Northeast, I am still seeing a lot of localized dry spot samples in the lab. Because of the wet spring, many courses decided to forgo traditional wetting agent programs. The result has been quickly developing LDS problems as soon as soils dry out.  It is not too late to put out your wetting agents but it may require more applications than normal for it to be effective and recovery from LDS may take longer than normal.  Some courses are seeing good wetting agent penetration down to an inch but the material stops and won’t move any further.  Additional water, wetting agent and venting are required in these cases, to push the material down.  Check your profile a day after wetting agent application to make sure it is working properly.

Categories: Weekly Update

Chilling Injury

Although the winter of 2015-2016 has been unusually warm (winter temperatures did not even arrive until mid-January and many courses were mowing into December) the Northeast has experienced about a foot of total snow and a significant amount of rain during February.  Temperatures continue to oscillate between the 20’s and 50’s on a daily basis and while winterkill and crown hydration are unlikely, this shifting weather has resulted in a few cases of chilling injury.  Chilling injury is more common on bermudagrass but I’ve seen it on both Poa annua and creeping bentgrass/KBG mixes this winter.  Injured turf generally has a VERY unusual appearance, as if aliens has landed on it, and damage follows waves and curves.  Fortunately, injury is limited to leaves and plants recover quickly when incubated.  The clincher for this type of injury is that it occurs on surfaces treated for snow mold as well as on untreated surfaces.  While it can be ugly, quick recovery can be expected once the spring arrives.

Categories: Weekly Update

All Quiet….

As most superintendents in Southern New England are aware, winterkill was a major problem from NYC to Boston by the time the snow melted in April.  However, once turf recovered, we were rewarded with a cool and surprisingly dry spring.  Although this year has not been as good as last year in the Northeast for growing grass, it is certainly a close second.  Since the season began I have seen very little disease in my lab.  Approximately 3 weeks ago the summer heat arrived with high humidity but even Pythium blight has only been sporadic. Dollar spot activity has picked up in the past few weeks but if fungicide coverage is in place, it has not been a problem. The only other disease of note  is the occasional bout of basal rot anthracnose, likely a result of the high humidity. Some foliar anthracnose was apparent in June on bentgrass (in response to drought). Water reserves are still holding and I have not gotten any complaints about ponds running dry. Summer patch has been completely absent this year. Unfortunately, golf courses with nematode problems are still experiencing problems. The snows of January and February probably did a good job of insulating them from temperature extremes.  With any luck, the summer heat will start to tail off in the next couple weeks and injury from traffic and high soil temperatures will start to recover.

Categories: Uncategorized

June: Anthracnose and LDS

Still not much disease activity so far this spring.  The two issues I am seeing currently are basal rot anthracnose on Poa (thanks to all the rain and cool temperatures) and surprisingly, a lot of LDS.   With all the rain we have had I would not have expected to see as much LDS as I have but rainfall has not been uniform across the region and while New England totals have been high, some areas seems to keep getting missed by the rain.  LDS has especially been a problem on fairways.  Finally, the root-knot nematodes came out of the winter with a vengeance.  Galling has been significant on many courses and while this may not cause symptoms this early in the season, badly galled roots will begin to show dysfunction as we get into the warmer and drier months.

Categories: Weekly Update

Use care with PGR’s in the cold!

Most people are very aware of potential damage to turf when using PGR’s at high rates in the heat of the summer. However, cold temperatures can also exacerbate PGR damage.  In particular, Proxy and cold weather do not mix. When Proxy is applied during periods of freezing or near-freezing temperatures (usually night-time temperatures), it can do significant damage to creeping bentgrass, turning it purple and slowing growth.  This can even happen with night-time temperatures in the 40’s.  Timing is critical with Proxy so superintendents will often try to get it out sooner than later but they do risk bentgrass damage if applications are too early.  Luckily, this damage recovers within a few weeks.  Little to no damage will be observed on Poa under the same conditions.  With the cold spring of 2014, these symptoms have been widely prevalent.   In addition, I know of one course seeing extreme damage to bentgrass with the application of PoaCure.  This is the first incidence I am aware of where PoaCure has cooked bentgrass at cold temperatures but it is something to be aware of.  PoaCure is a new material and a learning curve is often involved with new products.  It is unclear how cold temperatures need to be to cause damage and whether a precipitation component is involved in this particular situation but superintendents should test any new material thoroughly before applying it too widely.

Categories: Managment Practices