Monday, April 7, 2014

Aeration Recovery, Bermudagrass Green-up, Biodiversity, and The Masters!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Monday, April 7th and day one of Masters week! It has also been pouring rain all morning and all I see as I look across the course is standing water. Between one to two inches of rain is expected today (so much for firm and fast), so you can expect golf cars to be restricted to the paths for a few days this week.  

It has been exactly three weeks since we aerated our putting greens and I would like to share with you my thoughts.  Despite some weather related challenges experienced during the process, overall I am pleased with the results.  After spending a good deal of time on the greens this weekend during course setup, I can say I am also a little disappointed and pleased at the same time.  I am disappointed with where the greens are after 21 days compared to my expectations, but pleased they are ahead of last year's spring recovery.  My thoughts are the greens are recovering about one week behind compared to normal.  This weekend the greens looked like greens aerated two weeks ago as opposed to three.  Granted, we did experience six mornings with low temperatures at or below freezing within the first 10 days after aeration this year (including back-to-back mornings of 24 F on March 26th and 27th).  Temperatures that low don't just slow the plant's metabolic processes, they bring things to a halt.  Thankfully temperatures since April arrived have been more conducive for bentgrass growth and recovery, heck the temperatures last week were good enough to start waking up dormant bermudagrass!

This past week we applied Ferrous Sulfate to the dormant leaf tissue on all tees and fairways in order to darken or "stain" the bermudagrass canopy.  This is the third consecutive year we have performed this application.  The effect generated allows us to enhance the post-dormancy green-up of the bermudagrass plant. 
Essentially, what we are doing to the turf is creating a warming effect, similar to that feeling you get when you wear a black or navy golf shirt on a sunny day.  The darkened canopy draws and retains more heat from the sun which in turn helps wake up the sleepy plant from its winter hibernation.  
This year's application went very well and the golf course has continued to slowly green-up this week despite temperatures dropping back below normal over the weekend.
Last week our lake management service provider, Solitude Lake Management, was on hand to stock our three ponds with a variety of fish species. 
In general, stocking fish helps create a balanced ecosystem that is better able to maintain itself and have better overall water quality.  Some of the fish species stocked include Fathead minnows, Bluegills, Shellcrackers, Largemouth Bass, Channel Catfish, and Triploid Grass Carp.  The Fathead minnows eat mosquito larvae.  The Bluegills eat aquatic insect larvae.  The Shellcrackers target mollusks and help break the cycle of parasites affecting fish health and fish populations in some ponds.  The bass and catfish add great recreational value.  The grass carp will eat many submersed aquatic weeds and are widely used in the U.S. to help reduce the amount of chemicals introduced into water bodies to control certain aquatic weed species.  Overall, having these fish species in our ponds will just help us have better ponds, and cleaner water.  Just remember...Catch and Release!

Okay, The Masters is finally here and that can only mean one is time to reopen the driving range tee!  Close but not exactly.  We will open the grass portion of the range tee later this week but expect to be back on the artificial turf early next week until the bermudagrass begins to grow regularly. Right now the turf is greening-up as it exits winter dormancy, but it is still not quite ready to grow vigorously and recover from divots and wear. When using the range tee it is always important to use the tee in a manner that helps promote healing and recovery.  Just look at the difference this example shows!
Proper Driving Range Divot Management

We will use the range tee sparingly these next couple of weeks until long term warmer weather arrives. Until then, enjoy The Masters and I look forward to seeing you on the course!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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