Scouting Report: April 30th
Environmental conditions this week were typical of spring (and of my golf game). Started off pretty warm and suddenly cooled off. The start of the week saw large diurnal temperature swings with nighttime lows in the 30’s and daytime highs close to 80 degrees. The cold mornings led to a few frost delays throughout the region. Some superintendents observed a slight discoloration of putting green turf in response to this morning frost.
Other superintendents also observed something else for the first time this spring. We actually dried out throughout much of the state. As temperatures were soaring to near 80 degrees F, relative humidity was plummeting. This past Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday saw the lowest humidity of the season. During this time, daytime humidity dropped below 35% each day.
In response, many golf courses began hand watering putting greens, bunker areas, and newly established sod. Putting greens still recovering from core aeration may experienced the greatest moisture loss.
For example, this putting green has creeping bentgrass (left side) and annual bluegrass (right side). A couple of observations here. It appears the bentgrass (A1/A4) was able to heal in much more rapidly compared in the annual bluegrass. Secondly, soil moisture was much lower within the block of annual bluegrass. This may be due to the differences in water uptake and the loss of soil moisture through evaporation. The result was diffuse patterns of wilt in the annual bluegrass compared to the bentgrass.
As soon as we were getting acclimated to sunny skies and warm temperatures. The winds began to shift.
Brisk winds swept through the northern portion of Illinois late this week. This wind is helping push through a frontal system that will bring lots of rain to much of the state. As I type this report, it’s not a matter of if we will we get rain, it is how much rain we will see. A real concern is the potential for fallen trees. Localized flooding, high winds, and leafed-out trees are not a good combination. Be careful navigating around your course during these conditions.
Another consideration is managing wet areas. New seasonal labor may not be fully aware of what areas to avoid after a heavy rainfall. The last thing we want are rutted fairway or rough areas. Most likely there will also be substantial cleanup efforts next week. Scrapping silt off cart paths, blowing debris from parking lots, pushing sand back onto bunker faces..etc. Hopefully if it gets really bad, the pro shop staff can lend a hand.
This color coded NOAA forecast map may not only help predict rainfall totals, but it may be able to help predict the use of golf carts on Monday. If you are located in ‘orange’ or ‘red’ areas, there will probably be no golf carts. As we get into the ‘purple’ areas, I’d expect restricted use on most holes.
Fortunately, all of this rain shouldn’t be followed by any record setting heat. Although it may take awhile to dry out.
Before we begin to worry about our new temporary water features, here is an update on a few pest concerns that have been reported this week.
Brown ring patch flared up this week on putting green height annual bluegrass. The golf course superintendent noted that brown ring patch was active about 3 weeks earlier than most years. This earlier than expected activity may be due, in part, to warmer soil temperatures this year compared to previous years.
Brown ring patch isn’t an exclusive disease to annual bluegrass. However, it is much less common to see this disease on stands of pure creeping bentgrass. To help combat brown ring patch, increasing nitrogen fertilization may help alleviate symptoms and promote recovery.
Fungicide applications work much more effectively when used as a preventative spray. The CDGA Turfgrass Program has done a tremendous amount of research on this disease. Here is a link to a research report by Dr. Derek Settle on this topic: http://cdgaturf.org/research/11/o2011BiltmoreWaitea.pdf
This week I have also seen more instances of red thread and pink patch.
Red thread is a nuisance disease that is seen most frequently on fairway or rough height turf. In most situations, the use of a quick release nitrogen fertilizer application will keep this disease in check.
Looking ahead, those that have been seeing pink snow mold this spring may see even more activity. Those in central Illinois, may see leaf spotting diseases of Kentucky bluegrass roughs and creeping bentgrass fairways and greens. Environmental conditions will be conducive for prolonged leaf wetness and high relative humidity.
Ants have taken advantage of the warm and dry conditions earlier in the week. These mounds are problematic as they can ‘cake’ over putting green turf after mowing. The use of granular baits are a good way to help eliminate these insects. Another control method is to spot treat with a insecticide drench.
Dandelions are still in bloom and remain quite visible in the area. Some dandelions are now dropping seed in some spots. As mentioned last week, control is most effective during fall months.
Thistles (both Canada and bull) are also visible right now in spots. For control of thistles, repeat applications of herbicides containing clopyralid or triclopyr are among the most effective.
Check plot of the week
This is a check plot on a creeping bentgrass putting green (pure distinction) at Bob O’Link Golf Club. A small piece of plywood is used to minimize exposure to fertilizer products and plant protectants.