Sunday, June 5, 2016

Greens Update -- Getting Better Every Day

Photo taken on April 19, 2016
It's only the first of June but it has already been a long season for the agronomy team at Harrison Bay, mostly due to the extended growing season we encountered this past winter where we were still mowing green turf on our greens on New Year's Eve day which is very unusual. If you have played the course you have witnessed the areas on the greens which are less than ideal.  So what caused this and what are we doing to correct it?

The primary cause of our issues on the greens was a severe infestation of nematodes, mostly of the Sting (Belonolaimus longicaudatus) variety.  Nematodes are microscopic, non-segmented worms which feed on the root system of plants in various ways, all leading to the injury and/or demise of the turfgrass.  In the case of the Sting nematode they feed by inserting a stylet into the plant root much like a mosquito into a human and suck out the plant juices.  By the time the symptoms are observed on the surface the damage has been done below.  We normally treat for nematodes from March through October but with the warm weather this winter the nematodes did not enter dormancy, or hibernation, as they usually do.  This was an abnormal year and I simply was not thinking of nematode control during the Christmas season.  This has been a wake up call for us and we will, from now on, be on a 12 month preventative control program for these little pests.

Photo taken on May 21, 2016
All is not lost however.  We have seen a considerable amount of recovery over the past couple of weeks since the weather has improved with higher temperatures which has greatly encouraged both topical and root growth.  The nematode infestation has been controlled with the use of Avid from Syngenta and Nortica from BAYER Golf.  We have begun using a new product Dakota REV from Dakota Peat which we have seen considerable benefits from.  This product along with our foliar apps from Harrell's MaxLine and our granular fertility, along with Harrell's Divot Recovery Mix, will help to continue to improve the putting surfaces every day as we move forward.

Unfortunately there are areas on a couple of greens which would take longer than acceptable to recover just by growing in the turf that is there so we will be working to repair these areas with sod over the next several weeks.  No one likes to have to sod a green surface but this is the best and quickest way to get these areas, mostly on the perimeter of the green and thus not affecting most putts, back into proper condition and ready for the major golfing tournaments and TGA state championship events we have coming up in the next three months.

Healthy turfgrass from root to tip can withstand more environmental stresses than plants which are already weak.  This is well known and commonsense.  So as I stated last year in Time to Reset we will be doing more cultural practices on the greens to help improve their health and ability to withstand the pressures placed on them from weather, play, maintenance practices, disease pressures, and other forces such as nematode activity.  This may include additional venting and quad tine core aerifications, spiking, shallow and deep verticutting of greens, and additional applications of sand topdressings.  All designed to improve the health of our greens by revigorating our 12 year old Champion greens with new, stronger, healthier plants.

We are confident that our greens will continue to improve exponentially as the summer progresses and we thank all of our faithful members and tournament directors who have stuck with us through this learning process.  This has been a trying time for everyone at the course as golfers look to us for answers as to what went wrong.  I have to thank my agronomy staff for their hard work and the operations staff in the clubhouse for taking the brunt of the questions and concerns.  As it has been said before "If it was easy, everyone would do it." which is definetely true for a golf course superintendent.  We are excited about the future and thank you for your patience.

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