Monday, June 25, 2012

Peat Soils During a Drought

With drought conditions, the irrigation has been running more than normal.  The question has come up, "Why are some of the fairways wet in the morning"?  The peat fairways are extremely difficult to hydrate.  At Biltmore nearly 60% of the golf course is on peat ground.  Peat must remain moist, otherwise it becomes very difficult to re-wet and could even catch fire.  Click this LINK to read an article about a peat bog that caught fire this past winter in WI.  I do not think the the golf course will catch fire anytime soon, but as the ET rates build and the drought continues, it is important that the peat remains moist.

In the early AM we spot water areas that are showing signs of becoming hydrophobic.  To help the water penetrate the soils, each year near the end of June we apply wetting agents to the fairways (which was done today, Monday).  This wetting agent helps break the water tension and allow the water to penetrate into the soils  The wetting agent lasts about 90 days. 
For a short video on YouTube of me taking a soil sample from #1 fairway;  click HERE.

With the heat coming, we most likely raise mowing heights on Thursday.  The turf is healthy and we are as prepared as we can be. Hopefully Mother Nature is kind.

FEATURE06252012.jpg


Sunday, June 24, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update- June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012 Scouting Report

June Sees A Little Rain: Dollar Spot, 1st Japanese Beetles, Anthracnose BSR, Peter's Billbug versus Kentucky Bluegrass and Tim is still saying Waitea

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - DSettle@cdga.org / Weather Blog

It was hard to keep a ballcap on a few days this week, whether near the striped turf of a baseball diamond (Cubs/Sox) or near the striped turf of a fairway (us). Hot wind meant turf ET climbed to outrageous levels, but our saving grace was rain which had made a dent on a dry landscape (0.5" last weekend for most of Chi). June's third week had brought some change. First, June 21 was hailed 'officially' as summer. Whatever. Second, high humidity returned. Drip, drip and that's not rain. Third, it was super-hot and Chicago scored more highs of 90-something. By Wednesday we had counted thirteen 90° days...and it wasn't even summer yet. Fourth, the good men I know as golf course superintendents began to look oven-baked? To lighten things I use small talk. "What's with the hair?" "You got dark all the sudden!" "Look, deep roots!" "Are you thirsty?"

So, how's your summer going? If you are a kid pool-side, you smile. If you are a golfer now experiencing ball roll speeds of your life, you smile. If you happen to be a superintendent you're taking it all in (pats on the back). But, an occasional observant club member has begun to notice something. The Super's smile lost some of it's (broad) character. June just became July, it's Hot!

Click here to view the June 22, 2012 Scouting Report.

Have a good weekend and we are about to catch another break (cool-down). Whew!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
630-685-2307
dsettle@cdga.org
Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
630-685-2310
tsibicky@cdga.org
Research Blog

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dry - the chart says it al!

Dry!  Over the last three days Com Ed had to repair our power supply, finally replacing the transformer to our maintenance facility (and irrigation pumps) but not before it shorted out and sent a shower of sparks down from the telephone pole.  Some cooler weather is on it's way.  An all day rain would be nice.



The chart says it all - Produced by Dr. Settle with the CDGA
 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update - June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012 Scouting Report

Dry Roughs Now Get Scary: Take-all, Waitea, No Dollar Spot, No Brown Patch, No Pythium Blight, Peter's Bent Fairway Drought, Tim says Bent Green Stress

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - DSettle@cdga.org / Weather Blog

It's dry. Weathermen are pulling out all the stops to impress us with a June (again). It turns out June 2012 is bone dry in Chicago and only 1988 (June 1-15) was drier. I can say little Sunshine Course's grass has never seen such dry (established c. 2001). Nevertheless, our turf health remains stellar, wherever irrigated, and the same is true at area courses. To now our temperatures have been good for cool-season turf. Hot at times, but we've enjoyed timely breaks with low humidity (Tue, Wed this week). Air temp lows of 40s greatly moderated our 2 inch soil temps. It means soils are back to 60s again after 74 degrees on June 11 in Lemont (warmest soil temp yet).

It means our best ever crop of cool-season turf roots will remain healthy...for now. Just like turf, dry conditions have meant good health and few diseases for woody ornamentals. Look at the roses, they peaked last weekend as did a few others in the landscape. Like the sweet scent of American linden trees in full bloom. Back to turf and lessons therein. Like a disease called Waitea still active on Poa annua when dry? Like take-all still affecting bentgrass fairways for decades? One thing I know for sure, it's going to get hot this summer. The extended 5 day high temperature forecast is something like 90s, 90s, 80s, 90s, 90s. On average that's an A if you're enrolled in class. If you're a golf course superintendent, hang on as June is about to become July.

Click here to view the June 15, 2012 Scouting Report.

Have a good weekend and, as best is possible, stay cool!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
630-685-2307
dsettle@cdga.org
Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
630-685-2310
tsibicky@cdga.org
Research Blog

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dry weather = High Demand for Water

Irrigation - as the dry spell continues, questions arise as to why and how we irrigate.  Below is a recent posting by Ben McGarill, the superintendent from Wynstone which does a great job of answering this question (FYI - he is an Iowa State graduate, so he knows his stuff!).

Posted: 12 Jun 2012 03:04 PM PDT
During dry periods, we often hear the questions, “Why do you guys hand water?  Didn't we just install a new irrigation system?”

The answers to those questions are like of lot of answers we give.  There are a variety of factors involved, and there is never a single factor that allows for concrete decisions on how much water to apply with the irrigation system.  Our goals are relatively simple; turf health and proper golfing conditions.  With those two things in mind, golfers and turf managers would agree that over-watering would be the wrong thing to do, although we sometimes make that mistake. 

One thing to keep in mind is that irrigation is a supplement to rain.  You and I might drink a Gatorade or take a multivitamin, but these things will not serve as replacements for water and food.  The spring of 2012 was considered a very dry season right out of the starting gate.  We have seen many days in which evapotranspiration (ET) has reached .25”.  In other words, one quarter of an inch of plant available water disappears through both evaporation and transpiration of the plants.  Not only would it be impossible for us to replace this amount of water in the overnight hours, it would also create very soupy conditions in the top two inches of the soil profile if we tried.  So during drought periods, we operate at a fairly significant deficit. 

Another thing to consider is the manner in which the soil accepts the water that is applied.  Perfect coverage and infiltration is not possible.  If the golf course was perfectly flat, had a uniform soil type, identical internal drainage throughout, and only one grass type, we may be able to get close.  There is still one problem though.  Irrigation heads throw in a circular pattern; not a square pattern.  Today’s irrigation systems do get us much closer to uniform coverage than yesterday’s, but it is unlikely that you and I will see 100% uniform coverage in our life time. 

When you see someone hand watering a “knob” in a fairway or a high shelf on a green, it is safe to assume that if we had watered enough with our irrigation system to make that particular spot wet, the low areas around it would be entirely saturated or may even have standing water in them.  I encourage you to embrace our firemen and the hoses that we drag around, because it makes for better growing conditions and better playing conditions.  And remember, a little brown turf is not the end of the world as long as it isn't because it is too wet.  Dry and brown will often recover very rapidly.  It is amazing what an inch of rain will do, even after a dry spell.

Can you figure out where the turf is watered the most and least?  The same issue occurs with sprinklers around greens. If only we could water in a square.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Flowers - what does it take?

Flower planting time is always a busy one - typically around Memorial Day weekend.  Below is a video produced by Mike Paciga, my assistant.  It shows the amount of work that goes into planting the flowers in time lap photograph.

CDGA Weekly Update- June 8

June 8, 2012 Scouting Report

June is Nice: Very Dry, Optimum Turf Health, No Dollar Spot, Take-All of Bent Fairways, Peter's Nitrogen Timing and Tim's Kentucky Blue versus Crabgrass

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - DSettle@cdga.org / Weather Blog

If you enjoy the outdoors, this week felt like heaven. After a record plunge in temperature, we began our week and the remaining 7 days and nights provided us with an uncanny cool-season perfection of the turf kind. Though still dangerously dry from a simple reality that it just will not rain, our dry soils also go further back. Back to a winter that lacked snow and an early spring that was way too warm -one could argue evapotranspiration began earlier than ever recorded. It means our soils are dry, something we can take in June when moderate near-ideal temperatures are the norm. So far so good, but in the back of a plantsman's mind something is brewing. What's a dry, hot summer this July and August going to look like? Be prepared for turf color of the brown kind - from experience on golf courses we know inner roughs will be especially hard hit. But, I'm getting ahead of myself again. It's June and birds are singing, animals are playing and things like Hydrangea macrophylla are putting on a show.

The other obvious thing I saw this week? Golfers just kept smiling as did turf managers. Our current issues are minor at best. It's just things we've not seen for a number of years, like a root disease of creeping bentgrass called take-all. Like localized dry spot showing us the weak rootzone links beneath. But, we were sort of expecting a dry summer this time around. In 2012, a Chicago without dew was due!

Click here to view the June 8, 2012 Scouting Report.

It's gonna be a hot weekend, but thankfully it won't last long. So Enjoy!

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
630-685-2307
dsettle@cdga.org
Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
630-685-2310
tsibicky@cdga.org
Research Blog

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Soil moisture

Proper soil moisture is important in maintaining quality turf.  During dry periods we can control the amount of water added to greens.  To help us quantify how much and when to water we use two different types of soil moisture meters.  One is installed into the green and readings are sent wireless back to the irrigation computer every 10 minutes.  The other is by a hand held device.  Below are pictures of the soil moisture meter and how it is installed into the green.

The two different soil moisture meters.

This meter reads soil moisture, temp and EC at two different depths and send this the info wireless every 10 minutes back to the irrigation computer.
Soil meter being installed in the green.
Jesus adding soil back around the sensor.  They are installed near the edges of the green so not to interfere with cutting cups.

Monday, June 4, 2012

CDGA Weekly Update- June1 2012

June 1, 2012 Scouting Report

Cool Rain as June Begins: Take-all patch of bentgrass, Fairy ring on fairways, Wet Restarts Dollar Spot and Microdochium, and Tim says that 'W' Word Waitea

Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - DSettle@cdga.org/Weather Blog

In a week we were the driest in quite some time - like several years. Of course, my eyes were on the turf and less than normal rain continued to be the look. The brownest looking lawns had appeared very early - it was May! Memorial Day weekend did the trick when a combination of heat and wind dropped a hammer on the landscape and maybe even your head if you manage portions of the outdoor landscape for a living. It was a big thump, but sprinklers and hoses lessened it into a thud (our 1st of the season). You see, last Sunday saw temperature highs approach 100° in Chicago, very unusual during any summer month up this way.

But, the best part of our recent 7 day story is that it had a silver lining (two parts). Part I: Long-awaited rain did arrive and it's timing was beyond good as rain has been kinda rare in May -March and April for that matter. Still, Kentucky bluegrass and creeping bentgrass continue to enjoy their deep roots of a 2012 spring without overly saturated soils and flooding. What about Poa did you say? Well, she's been looking a little yellowish. Part II: Then yesterday, things suddenly looked up for whimps like Poa annua given our high temp hit 50-some degrees. Seriously? So, here's to June, the month that lets us say SUMMER. Although we remain confused, on the exact season, our rain gauges are full (momentarily) and our faces are smiling (end-of-week-cool-break-thing).

Click here to view the June 1, 2012 Scouting Report.

This weekend, keep smiling, with your jacket on.

Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
630-685-2307
dsettle@cdga.org
Weather Blog

Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research
630-685-2310
tsibicky@cdga.org
Research Blog