Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Rain, rain, go away! While it's true that a well timed rainfall or even thunderstorm can provide to much a drought-stricken golf course, too much rain can spell disaster for golf course turf. Since last week, NSCC has received over 6 inches of rain on top of an already wet year. To put this in perspective, the automated irrigation system has only been utilized 4 times since June, whereas in a normal year it is utilized, at least on a limited basis, almost nightly. What happens when to the grass when it rains too much?

  • Drowning. When grass receives too much water, the delicate balance between air and water in the soil is skewed. When water replaces the oxygen, the turfgrass roots begin to die back, and, in some cases, cause the plant to die.

  • Disease. Most turgrass disease thrive in hot and wet conditions. Even though we treat greens, tees, and fairways on a preventative basis with a variety of plant protectant products, already wet and weakened turfgrass becomes extremely susceptible to a variety of diseases which may result in death to turfgrass plants.

  • Drought Stress. Once the rain leaves and dry conditions resume, the turf plants, and especially their root systems, are left in a very vulnerable state. The root die-back, caused by saturated soils, reduces the length of the roots to an inch or less. This means that as soon the top inch of soil begins to dry out, the plants run the risk of dying due to lack of water.

The golf course maintenance staff has been extremely busy this very wet and warm summer. Not only do the bunkers need to be continually pumped and repaired, the turf requires extra attention as well. In order to minimize the adverse affects of excess water, the grounds and greens staff will remove excess water from the course via pumps and squeegees, make additional applications of plant protectant materials, and even utilize fans and blowers to promote drying to especially sensitive areas of the course. The most important thing that we, as turf managers, can do now is to take a cautious approach. Right now, fast greens and golf carts take a back seat to prudent and conservative management. Once the difficult stretch of weather ends, we will once again strive to provide fast greens and improved golfer accessibility to the course.

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