Spring 2019

Spring is creeping upon us like a sloth and our soil temps are finally climbing enough that we see some "green up". With the spring green up, comes a few necessary tasks to help us stay ahead of future pest problems.  Our spring applications of Pre-emergent and plant growth regulators were completed just ahead of the rain on Thursday.  I often joke that we are "racing the rain", but often it is true.  Many of our practices are heavily influenced by rain events (better to use natural rain than to use the irrigation, which overuses electricity and the water from the Mahomet Aquifer) .  This week we used the rain to activate our Pre-emergent product.  The product is carried on a fertilizer granular that either needs to be irrigated or have rainfall to make it active.  Once active, it forms a barrier at the soil surface that inhibits summer annual seeds from germinating.  Examples of the weeds we are inhibiting from germinating are crabgrass and goosegrass. These summer annuals prefer warm weather and thrive during the summer months when our cool-season turf growth slow.  When not controlled, they can take over an area quickly and they are a terrible surface to play golf on.  Bonus of the application is the fertilizer for a solid start for our desired turfs. 

We also applied plant growth regulators to inhibit seed formation from Poa annua (sometimes called Poa, or worse Poa Anna on golf broadcasts...don't get me started on golf commentators).  Poa annua is Annual Bluegrass that is a heavy seed producer with a life-cycle nearly the opposite of crabgrass and goosegrass.  It prefers cool conditions and germinates from seed in the fall and overwinters until spring when it pushes seeds.  After producing seed, it limps along until the heat of the summer then melts away.  Its a tough weed to control, but we target the seed production phase as a way to limit its growth.   By using these plant growth regulators we affect the plant hormones in a way that almost completely eliminates its seed production.  Timing is everything and we rely on growing degree days to trigger our applications.  [A full explanation of using growing degree days can be found here:  https://turf.unl.edu/turfinfo/9-28_GDD_Calcs.pdf ] If all goes well, less seed goes into the soil and less new germination this fall.

These two early spring practices help kick start our year and keep us ahead of future problems.  Post-emergence control of summer annuals is difficult and watching annual bluegrass die on the greens mid-summer just before a tournament is no fun. 

I have to mention that I have a tremendous staff that makes all of this possible. What I described above is just scratching the surface on what they do everyday.  They are the unsung heroes of the golf course.  They returned two weeks ago from seasonal layoff and completely turned the course around. Please thank them if you see them on the course.  They are the reason the course is so good.

One last thought. I am always humbled on the golf course when our golfers tell me they read this blog.  It is still strange for me to accept that these odd turf talks going on in my own head make sense when I write them in this blog.   Thank you for caring about this golf course and the work it takes to make it all happen.  It's hard work, but hearing from all of you makes it worth while.

Thanks for reading, I hope to provide a few more postings this year.  Total content of each post will be less, but hopefully posted more often.

Travis Williams, CGCS 


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