Half of 2019 is already gone. Today is July 1, and the golf course looks fantastic. On the surface that is. The grass at this moment is green and lush nearly everywhere. The tides, they are a changing!!! The weather has finally switched to a hot, humid, dry pattern. I am sure that it will change again. To be a successful superintendent, it is important to look beyond the surface and see what is going on below ground. I am seeing several changes that have recently started here at Sycamore Ridge.
The first change, is in moisture levels. Now that the frequency of precipitation has declined, we are relying on the irrigation system to supply the required water for the turf to survive. Each day I see new areas of turf that are stressed due to lack of moisture. Unfortunately, the perfect irrigation system has not been created. The staff constantly monitors the course and adjusts the system to provide the right amount of water to a given area. The problems become visible after multiple irrigation cycles. Some areas receive more than enough water and become overly wet, and other areas get dry and the grass goes into dormancy and possibly dies. This is a never ending battle when the irrigation system is used frequently. I know that the longer we rely on the irrigation system, we will see more and more dry areas, along with more wet areas. Nothing is as efficient as natural rainfall.
The second thing that I have seen is a flush of growth on the greens, tees, and fairways. While we have not applied any significant amount of nitrogen to theses areas recently, in the last week, the daily growth rate has nearly doubled. This growth is caused by microbial activity. When soil temperatures increase, so does the microbial activity in the soil. These microbes break down organic matter in the soil and release nitrogen. While there has been a recent spike in the nitrogen levels, this should level out over the next few weeks and become manageable. In the short term, this will cause additional clipping litter in the fairways, and slower greens.
The final change that I have notices has been the formation of a black layer in the root zone of the greens. This is isolated to the lower, wetter areas. This black layer is caused by anaerobic conditions in the soil. The heavy spring rains are the cause of this problem. The soil is unable to breathe, and gasses get trapped, causing a rotten egg smell below the surface. We will be addressing this problem by venting the greens with a small solid tine aerification. This process will create channels for the gasses to escape and oxygen to enter.
One last side note for the homeowners that treat your own yard. July 4th is the standard deadline for preventive insecticide application to control white grubs. This needs to be applied and effectively watered in by July 4th to provide the best control for these root feeders. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.
As always, if you have any questions, please ask.