July 20, 2012 Scouting Report
Record Hot and Dry: Soil Temps Reach 85°, Highs +90°, Needed Rain Returns, Peter says Tall Fescue & Tim's phrase is Drought Tolerance of Bentgrass
Chicago/Northern Illinois Update: Derek Settle - DSettle@cdga.org / Weather Blog
July began hot, then eased for about a day but once again was over-the-top hot this week. Besides gaining an additional five days to tack onto that Chicago record of 26 days with highs +90°, the biggest story this week was what fell from the sky. It was rain, and in one evening and into the next morning some suburbs would record 2+ inches. For example, Sunshine Course in Lemont would total 2.3 inches of rain from July 18 to July 19. But in-between rare rain events our outdoor reality is that we've begun to accept a different look. Brown lawns and leaf-scorched trees are now common and has become our landscape look in 2012. The only alleviation is through use of automatic irrigation systems or alternative practices such as the labor intensive handwatering that superintendents and staff must do to maintain sand-based golf greens. In addition to the constant visual monitoring of midday wilt stress, today we maintain plant health with newer technology. Soil probes that we use to physically sample the rootzone to understand the belowground dynamics of soil and roots are now supplemented with electronic sensors used to generate maps of soil moisture across areas. This allows greater accuracy of water management this season, very necessary when average soil temperatures at a 2 inch depth touch 85 degrees or more (saw again this week). When too wet, soils cannot adequately release heat at night and roots can plain cook - just part of the story as oxygen is necessary for root life and wet soils also work against us by trapping toxic gas byproducts like CO2. The bottom line is summer 2012 has so far produced some of the warmest and driest growing conditions ever recorded. Our work continues as we advance through this record hot, dry summer and boy, it's gotten real ugly.
With the return of rain, we thought maybe just maybe we'll see the return of a normal summer? What we were thinking until a super-hot forecast appeared for next week. In the meantime, try and have a good weekend.
Click here to view the July 20, 2012 Scouting Report.
Derek Settle, PhD
Director of Turfgrass Program
Timothy A. Sibicky, MS
Manager of Turfgrass Research