Playing a Little Defense in Turf
27 AUG 2021
It is getting close to the end of August and we are well into the heat of the battle. We endured one of the wettest months of July on record and have followed it with one of the hottest and driest August stretches on record. This is not a very great mix for turfgrass growth. We prepare our greens in May and June for the tough months of July and August. July, in the past, has tended to be one of the drier months of the year and the unexpected wet left many of our root profiles almost nonexistent. When this is followed by high heat coupled with extreme humidity the cool-season grasses that we grow in southern Ontario tend to check out and say I have had enough. Building a strong root mass is key to surviving the heat of the battle. Roots tend to search for water and nutrients and when they do not have to search that deep, they quite simply stay shallow. Enter the high heat and we scramble to keep the top inch of our profiles moist. You may ask why not just soak them and get through the day? When the profile is that saturated the soil becomes anaerobic and wet wilt, thinning turf, or devasting diseases set in.
Pictures of a healthy root vs. a shallow root in 40-degree weather.
We did have a bit of the Poa Annua on 4 of our greens check out a bit and we are playing a bit of defense right now trying to get things to recover. Topdressing, grooming, verticutting and even pushing the greens for speed takes a back seat until we get to some of the ‘happy grass weather’. Warm days, cool nights low humidity is getting closer, but it looks as though the forecast says the heat will be around for a few more days.
I have been getting lots of questions on how the water reserves are holding up and I’m happy to say that we have over 10 million gallons in our reservoir and over 60 million gallons in property ponds. With a worst-case scenario, we have well over 2 months of solid water left on our property. Once this humidity breaks then I’m all game to start asking mother nature for some rains…of course only at night when no one is on the course.
Looking forward to some great fall weather and I’ll see you out there!
Bill McAllister, Golf Course Superintendent