Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fall Course Care

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Wednesday, October 20th and Fall Member-Guest festivities begin tomorrow. Thankfully Mother Nature has delivered on the fall portion this year with crisp, cool morning temperatures the past several days along with blue skies and very little rain to help get everyone in the mood. It seems like it has been awhile since we experienced a typical Carolina autumn like we are currently enjoying, only 0.68 inch rain so far this month!

Since my last update we have been busy preparing the golf course for winter. I know, fall just arrived but that's the way agronomy works in our world. Over the past few weeks we have treated the entire course with pre-emergent herbicide for the management of unwanted annual bluegrass. 

Poa annua is a grassy winter annual weed and this treatment protects the dormant Bermudagrass canopy from invasion. The process is a lengthy one usually spanning from one week to the next as it requires numerous tanks to successfully treat more than 100 acres of tees, fairways, and rough! The product must also be watered-in to activate and bind the herbicide to the upper portions of the soil where it creates the barrier keeping the golf course clean during the winter season.

Following the prevention of winter weeds, it was time to protect our closely mowed areas from Spring Dead Spot (SDS). SDS is a turfgrass disease caused by one of three species of Ophiosphaerella fungi. Ophiosphaerella herpotricha is found primarily in the southern Great Plains region of the western U.S. Ophiosphaerella namari is the prevalent pathogen in California and Australia, but is not common in most other regions of the U.S. The predominant causal agent of SDS in North Carolina is Ophiosphaerella korrae.

Preventative treatment requires applying fungicide that targets the pest and watering in immediately with enough water to move the product into the upper portions of the rootzone where the fungus resides. Needless to say, treating nearly 35 acres in this manner requires a full Maintenance Monday in order to operate the volume of irrigation required without soaking innocent bystanders!

You will also be happy to know we recently overseeded both levels of the primary practice tee with ryegrass for the upcoming winter months. So like I said, although fall weather has just arrived we have been busy preparing the course for the months ahead.

In other news I am pleased to report the plant health of our putting greens has returned to levels last recognized during the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am. You may recall a post from early September click here where I spelled out how we altered our fall aerification practices that year and subsequently the health and performance of our greens declined as a result. 

The surfaces have rebounded quite handsomely with our treatments and more closely resemble the dense surfaces we all previously enjoyed. I focus my attention on the space between aerification holes, when the turf between holes equals the turf directly over the holes we are on the right track! 

So get out and enjoy the game during what is arguably the best time of year to play. There is a hint of color change on the trees, broomsedge seed stalks have bronzed, and Goldenrod dots the natural areas resembling  gorse in the spring. In fact, I think it's time I dusted off the hickories and walk a round myself! 

See What I Did There ;)

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Nothing Could Be Finer...