Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Three Tropical Storms Walk Into a Bar!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, October 14th.  Stop me if you've heard this one before.  Three tropical storms walk into a bar...  No wait, that can't be right because bars currently remain closed in North Carolina due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  But did you know we've had three tropical systems impact Carolina Golf Club since my last post?

Ironically, it was during that same last post when I referenced how we were impacted by two storms (Florence and Michael) less than four weeks apart just two years ago.  This year we had three named storms, Sally, Beta and Delta make their way to the Queen City after coming ashore in the Gulf.  

Sally's remnants dropped a total of 1.90 inches rainfall at Carolina Golf Club between September 17th and 18th.  Beta was just one week behind and brought us 1.43 inches rainfall over the 25th and 26th.  Watching the forecasts for Delta last week I wasn't too concerned.  Predicted rainfall totals weren't overly alarming, and as I just stated the two previous storms weren't overly impressive.  Add in the fact we had yet to receive any rainfall in October (9 days), we were due a good soak.   

In fact, the agronomy team took advantage of those dry days to make preemergent herbicide treatments to the golf course.  Twice yearly we treat 100 acres of Bermudagrass (tees, fairways, rough and practice areas) with preemergent herbicides.  The spring application targets crabgrass and goosegrass and the fall application targets annual bluegrass (AKA poa annua).  Without a fall application our playing surfaces would become overrun with clumpy annual bluegrass requiring extensive post emergent applications to rectify.

So, we had a golf course that was sufficiently dry and perfect weather last week to make our application.  Treating 100 acres takes several days.  Our product of choice is manufactured by Bayer Environmental Science and the label stated to irrigate with 1/8 to 1/4 inch water if sufficient rainfall wasn't expected within 21 days.  I knew Delta was coming and expected more than sufficient rainfall, so we did irrigate on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings to activate the product applied and have it bind in the upper soil profile.

Delta arrived late Saturday afternoon, a little before 4:00 pm and shortly after my Virginia Tech Hokies fell short in their valiant effort at Chapel Hill.  I tip my cap to all you UNC alums and fans this year.  Well played.  

When I arrived at the course Sunday morning I discovered 1.93 inches of rainfall and thought, okay, Delta was what I expected.  Especially when compared to the outcomes of Sally and Beta.  But the rainfall wasn't over and before we completed course setup Sunday morning I was soaked, and opening drainage inlets.  When the rainfall finally stopped Sunday and they were miraculously able to run the Nascar race at Charlotte Motor Speedway later that day we had received another 1.5 inches of rain at Carolina Golf Club.

Delta's grand total was 3.56 inches rainfall, which is more than Sally and Beta combined (3.33").  Needless to say I made a phone call to the technical service representative of Bayer in our region to discuss our recent applications and potential implications.  The good news is we have several factors in our favor.  The fact our soils were dry and not saturated at the time of application.  The fact we irrigated to activate and bind prior to the onset of rainfall.  And the fact the 3.56 inches of rain from the storm did not fall all at once but was spread out over multiple days.  Definitely reassuring news.

One byproduct of these tropical systems is the flush of growth that accompany them.  Depending on the timing this surge may or may not be wanted.  Two years ago when we were preparing the golf course for the U.S. MidAm we had to work hard to overcome the growth surge following Florence in order to achieve the desired green speed and firmness the USGA requested.

Yesterday, during our closed maintenance day we mowed greens twice in order to help get the greens back to desirable levels.  And today we are making an application of plant growth regulator to slow the plant's response to the "free nitrogen" recently made available. Post rain nitrogen

Next on our agenda is making our annual fungicide application to tees and fairways for the management of Spring Dead Spot.  This application has been temporarily postponed because the fungicide must be watered-in immediately to move the product past the canopy and into the rootzone where the fungus is active.  Although the course is dry enough today to permit cart traffic, it is too wet to be irrigating so we will wait for conditions to improve before we proceed.

And finally, last week I had the good fortune to play golf with Stephen Proctor, author of Monarch of the Green.  He was traveling from his home in Florida to visit his Brother-in-law at Lake Lure.  He absolutely loved the course and donated a signed copy of his book to the club library.  So if you're interested in learning more about Young Tom, check it out. No pun intended. :) 

That's all for now.  We are continuing to clean up the course following Delta and we're hopeful we will be dry enough to mow some bermudagrass tomorrow and Friday.  Fall is here again as the 10-day forecast below shows some cool mornings ahead.  Enjoy!

Courtesy of Brad Panovich, WCNC

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG