Heat and humidity have come back with a vengeance but our team is battling through. Please drink plenty of fluids when out and don’t forget to take a break in the AC if you’re feeling over heated. Our guys have been handling the heat well but these are the instructions we pass out daily in this type of weather pattern.
Best of luck to all involved in the PGA championship this week, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to manage bentgrass in St. Louis! You may have seen some early coverage showing fans and other strategies in place to help keep turf cool but as the week progresses it will be very challenging to provide championship conditions.
I posted a short bulletin from the Mid-Atlantic region GCSA a little while back and recently ran across another one with a similar tone, except this one was from Dr. Miller from the University of Missouri and was titled “This Season Unprecedentedly Sucks.” The article can be found by following this link – Missouri Turf Article.
While we have not had quite the extremes as what they have been dealt in Missouri, we are not far off and all regions are singing the same tune. Being on defense and being mindful of our mowing and watering procedures helps us to survive and advance but after two years of major disruption and moving/growing in of turf some of the evidence of our renovation is hard to hide. Some of the most unsightly items are crabgrass and goosegrass which have started to blow up in roughs and fine turf alike. These grassy weeds can be very challenging to control especially when pre-emergent herbicides are not able to be used early in the year.
Wait… Why couldn’t we use pre-emergent herbicides???
Last year we started a large scale overseeding and rough transition application where we aerified and seeded all primary rough areas. Though the seedlings were able to germinate in the fall and survive the winter, they were not ready to withstand a strong pre-emergent herbicide application like what would be used to control our grassy weeds. Most of our in play rough areas will be able to be treated next year and the years to follow.
And what about the fairways, tees, collars??? We were also in the process of growing in a lot of these areas and unable to apply preventative.
Why can’t we spray the young seedlings??? Pre-emergent herbicides act as a barrier just below the soil surface and would not allow new seedlings to germinate or allow existing seedlings to mature as they would not be able to fill out laterally.
A major contributing factor to the amount of crabgrass we see is the amount of dirtwork that was completed during the project. During each phase of construction we were challenged with growing in sod or seed behind the contractors. When they strip sod of an area, move it to the side and then re-lay that same grass we have introduced additional weed seeds. Crabgrass and Goosegrass are prolific seed producers and when the sod was cut and laid on the outskirts of the course or in weedy areas we contaminate our stand with additional weed seeds. In addition to incorporating new seed from different areas by transplanting sod, we also bring old seeds to the surface when disturbing soil. After sod is laid or seed is planted, the disturbed weed seed also germinates and starts to fill any voids or weak areas.
We have had representatives from all of the major chemical companies out to the course this year to look at our progress in the fescue areas, one common statement from each of the reps was “crab and goose grass is a bumper crop this year.” A “bumper crop” is a term used in agriculture to describe a crop with an unexpectedly high yield, and this year all turf facilities are experiencing troubles with these noxious weeds.
Why is this year so bad??? The weather pattern has played a huge role in turf managers challenge to control crab and goose grass. Early wet patterns made it very challenging for managers to get pre-emergent applications out, and those that were able to had difficulty managing the amount of water behind application which can cause lower efficacy. After the pre-emergent window we entered a hot wet spell which caused thinning of turf and early germination of crab/goose grass. Following the hot wet spell with thinning turf comes the normal hot/humid conditions where crab/goose grass thrive and are able to become dominant.
Luckily these grasses can’t withstand cold conditions and will die with the first frost, but that doesn’t look to be any time soon.
So.. what are we doing about it?!?? Our approach is multi-faceted and dependent on the area in question.
Around greens and collars, we are simply pulling it out while also trying to encourage growth of the desired grasses.
The process started with slit seeding into the weak collar areas and was followed by fertilizer and wetting agent applications to help with seed germination. Now that we are a few days away from seeing out little babies emerge, we are pulling unwanted grasses from the collars so that the new grass can creep in and take over. This will also help with the transition of collars to greens height grass.
In areas on fairways and tees that have started to show a lot of weed infestation we are applying a herbicide combination that will slowly melt back the unwanted species and allow the bentgrass to fill the void. We have also started a seeding process into these areas to encourage bentgrass takeover rather than poa annua. In the roughs, we are able to use a more common herbicide that will help to control the crab/goose grass but will still need to be cautious of high temperatures as these products come with a risk of phytotoxicity.
The picture above is outside our shop near the construction staging areas and is a great representation of how quickly crab and goose grass can take over an area void of turf. The areas heavily infested were stripped and used around the course during the construction and seeded early spring. Due to competition and poor germination, the primary grasses observed are crab and goose grass, we will remedy this issue but a fall seeding application will make it much easier to develop the desired stand of turf.
We are in the process of making the weeds go away, and will work to prevent them more in the future as our turf stands will be able to withstand the proper applications.
Thanks for following along!
See you on the course soon!
– J.R. Lynn, GCS