Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A View From the Passengers Seat

In this months The Minikahda Columns September Newsletter, my dog Pepper took over the duties of writing this months Eagle Eye column. I think she did a great job. If you get a chance to talk to her make sure you mention the column, she loves to get positive feedback.

A View from the Passengers Seat
By Pepper Hemmingway

I’m back at the computer giving the boss break so he can spend some time on the course and less time in the office. It seems to me last year I started my article writing about the cool summer we were having, well it looks like this summer was quite the opposite. I know because it was sure hot at the end of July and the first two weeks in August. Now, I have only been around for 12 years and the boss has been in the business for almost 20 and if he says he can’t recall a stretch of weather like we just had, then it must have been a rough stretch.

Apparently when there are extended periods of hot humid weather and nighttime temperatures stay in the 70’s and dew points remain in the 70’s this creates ideal environmental conditions for disease incidence. The boss and staff were busy treating greens, tees and fairways for fungal pathogens during this period of weather. I know, because when the boss hops on a sprayer, I’m relegated to my office bed until he comes back. There was a great deal of chatter amongst the staff about diseases such as brown patch, summer patch, dollar spot and pythium. It appears they’ve got it all under control. It also helps when the weather conditions changed for the better, disease pressure is reduced and the need to apply fungicides is not so necessary.

Not only have we had a hotter than normal summer, there has also been a great deal of rain, sometimes a little too much rain, in the form of downpours. This is not something the boss enjoys seeing, but he doesn’t mind as much with the new bunker design. No longer do the bunkers wash out to the degree they used too and there is little to no contamination from the silt and dirt which just creates a muddy bunker.

Due to all the rain and high humidity the dependence on irrigation water to maintain the golf course has been reduced this season. On average the golf course will require from 25-30 million gallons of water in a season. This summer, year-to-date, only 12 million gallons have been utilized. As we head into fall season the plants requirement for water decreases. By year end the boss expects our total water usage to be well below previous years.

The rain has definitely helped reduce water usage, but another factor is the overall increase in creeping bentgrass on the fairways. This turf species requires less water than the shallow rooted poa annua. Through management techniques of deep and infrequent watering, creeping bentgrass plants can develop deeper roots. Deeper turf plant roots equates to less water and less water helps provide firmer golf conditions and can reduce disease incidence. A deeper rooted plant also requires less fertility inputs. It sounds like there are many benefits to continue to encourage creeping bentgrass as the dominant turf species on the golf course. I may be just a dog but you didn’t know I knew so much about turf management did you?

Fall is a great time of year and a great time to play some golf. I love it because the squirrels are busy storing food for the winter and everyone knows me and my pal Cooper the Yellow Lab, love to chase those squirrels. Remember to check out the boss’s blog sight at www.minikahdagrounds.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter for course condition updates at www.twitter.com/MinikahdaTurf. Until next year, I will see you on the course.

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