Saturday, August 6, 2011

August Update- Hot and Dry is Better Than Hot and Wet!

It has been a hot, dry second half of summer 2011.  Earlier this year we were quite wet- in May and June we received over 15 inches of rain.  July was a month that was touted as the "Hottest July since 1955" by KCCI.  While some areas in the state received rain, Wakonda did not. We observed only 1 inch the entire month.  The hot and dry conditions had us battling to keep the irrigation system running smoothly so we could give our turf the moisture it desperately needed.

When conditions are hot and humid, turf disease pressure skyrockets.  It is a daily struggle to 'walk the fine line' between giving the turf enough water to handle the heat while avoiding over watering which exacerbates disease issues.  To avoid this scenario each green is scouted every day, checking overall soil moisture and for localized dry spots.  Each green receives an individual watering plan- countless hours of checking and hand watering and the result is healthy turf.

While the past several weeks have been a challenge, we are much happier with the condition of the course than we were this time last year.  Summer 2010 was a very wet and hot season.  Turf everywhere struggled to survive the many pressures- at least this July we were able to control how much water falls on the course.

Greens- are performing phenomenally!  Roots are strong and deep (8+ inches).  Ball marks are slow to recover but we are masking their appearance with green sand.  Speeds are holding steady.  You may have noticed a slight dip in speeds during the hottest days in July as we were forced to back off our maintenance a bit to avoid over stressing the turf.  With the cooler temperatures we are back to our normal routine.

Collars- have responded to aeration and traffic control efforts.  Their condition is slowly improving.  Cooler weather will be the key.  We will continue our efforts to the nurse them through summer.

Tees- are doing well.  We have seen some minor disease issues pop up but were able to handle them quickly with fungicides.

Fairways- are also performing well.  Our new bentgrass varieties handle the summer months much better than the fairways did in years past.  We do have a couple areas that are struggling.  The wet spring and early summer left the turf in low lying areas without strong roots- these areas are struggling with the hot weather.  You will also notice other small areas where we have some dead turf- this is to be expected.  We do have some Poa annua in the fairways and treated with Velocity Herbicide in May and June.  The heat has really added a knockout punch to a lot of Poa!

Number 8 fairway Aug. 6, 2011.  Some turf here is struggling.
The same area August 13, 2010- looking much worse.  Hot and dry is MUCH better than hot and wet!
Rough- is struggling in areas without good irrigation coverage and without the protection of turf fungicides.  The good news is this turf is better equipped to handle summer stresses and will bounce back on its own with the arrival of cool fall temperatures and a little rain.  Weeds are the most visible sign of stressed turf.  Crabgrass and nutsedge have carved out a niche the past few weeks- they love the hot weather.  We will selectively treat these weeds in areas of high priority to avoid using a lot of herbicide.  October frost will kill theses summer annual weeds for free!

We are using portable sprinklers to keep the rough green, as best we can.
Yellow Nutsedge.
Bunkers- We're glad to have been able to take a break from repairing storm damage.  We will give them more attention once the weather cools down a bit and we can divert our attention from the turf.  We will be inspecting them individually to redistribute sand and add sand where needed.