Last week proved to be a difficult one for golf courses throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Excessive soil moisture along with blazing heat and high humidity made it a recipe for stressed turf. Unlike in previous years when there was a drought and we saw turfgrass health issues in high and dry areas, this time we saw turf decline in low wet areas. What a difference one year can make! Truly an amazing sight to see.
Why the turf decline? Take a look at this picture.
The canopy temperature of #2 green on Thursday, July 18th at 12:30 pm was 132 degrees!!!! Turf shuts down when temperatures reach about 105 degrees. South facing slopes especially take the brunt of this intense sun and heat. We try and "syringe" these areas by putting light amounts of water on them. This lowers the temperature slightly for a small amount of time. It is not a cure all as too much water will lead to the roots cooking in the soil.
When water sits in low areas in this heat it literally cooks the roots in the soil. On top of that a turf disease called Pythium sets in. While we do apply preventative fungicides for this disease these products cannot help when the disease pressure is much, much greater then normal.
With cooler temps and nighttime lows in the 60's we will see plants recover on their own. We will help speed this process up by applying small amount of fertilizer. Large amounts of fertilizer are not used since the plants do not have enough energy reserves to use the additional fertility.
We have already stripped the scalded low areas on fairway #2.
We will be adding drainage in these areas to prevent the water from ponding in the future. Rough and tees areas will be aerifed and seeded as well.