Thursday, September 2, 2010

Much Ado About Dew

While playing an early morning round of golf, you have probably noticed that the fairways are often lacking dew. This observation is not just a random occurrence, but rather a planned maintenance practice on the golf course. Of course dew reduction lends itself to dry feet and pant bottoms, but also plays an integral part of our disease management strategy at NSCC. Most people think of dew as only water condensation on the turf's leaves, similar to what one might find on their car in the early morning hours. While it is true that some of the moisture on the leaves of the turf is due to condensation, the rest of the moisture is secreted by the plant. This moisture is called guttation fluid.

Guttation fluid is a sugary substance which contains multiple organic and inorganic compounds. When guttation fluid is left on the turfgrass for extended periods, a moist environment is produced which, as research indicates, lends itself to fungal activity. During peak periods of disease pressure, the maintenance staff at NSCC will intentionally remove the dew by mowing in the early morning or by dragging a dew removal device over the fairways. You might think of this as a natural approach to both limit disease activity and reduce costs associated with fungicide applications. Of course, no system is without fault. Often times when dragging the fairways to remove the dew, divots which had been replaced can be removed from their intended location. As always, it is a day to day decision on whether to remove the dew or to allow the sunlight to burn it off.

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