Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists (USGA)

By Darin S. Bevard , Senior Agronomist
July 16, 2010

A large portion of the Mid-Atlantic Region has experienced a long spell of dry, hot weather – burned-out rough, drought-stressed fairways, water supplies running on empty and temperatures hovering near 100 degrees. While some areas received timely rains, many remain dry. Luckily, limited rainfall occurred with the high temperatures, which made the high temperature conditions tolerable until the other shoe dropped.

Torrential rains have occurred in many areas, especially the eastern half of the region. While cool season grasses tolerate hot weather very well, the combination of high temperatures and high humidity had predictable results - turfgrass stress and decline occurring on putting greens in these rain-soaked areas. Poa annua is the most affected to date.

Now is the time to be conservative on putting greens. Mowing heights should be raised, if necessary. Putting green mowers should be outfitted with a solid front roller if stress is noted on greens. Aggressive grooming practices should be suspended under harsh environmental conditions. These decisions are not arbitrary. If your grass is performing well, monitor it closely and make wise decisions, but maintenance can continue as normal. If any stress is noted, consider some practices to alleviate stress.

Water management also is critical. With torrential rain, Mother Nature is in control of the water. When she isn’t, minimize use of overhead irrigation to the extent that your resources allow. Hand watering is labor intensive, but when talking about the difference between survival and decline of the putting greens, labor must be allocated for this important practice. Hand watering allows the areas that need water to be addressed site-specifically without over watering other areas.

The next month will be difficult as turfgrass roots have been compromised. Disease pressure is extremelyhigh. The goal is to keep the grass as healthy as possible even if some level of playability must be sacrificed. Pushing for green speed under current weather conditions may lead to rapid grass decline. Some golfers may be upset that the greens are a little slow, but all golfers will be upset if they are a little dead. Superintendents must make good decisions, and golfers need to respect them.

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail. Stan Zontek ( and Darin Bevard ( at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( at 412/ 341-5922.

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