In late July and early August, we were able to topdress our greens and brush them on at least 3 occasions but have to since stop this because of the high temperatures. Once the heat subsides, we will definitely continue this program. We will also do some light grooming/verticutting to help stand up the turf but will not do this until we are confident the most severe stress has passed. We have not been overly aggressive with our greens in an effort to allow them to get through the stressful period. Being too aggresive during this heat could push our green systems over the edge and give us a miserable fall golfing season and no one wants to see this happen, especially me!! We did lower our height back to our normal position but I'm confident we will not experience any issues. The solid roller program gives our turf a little more added protection until we can begin to groom the surfaces again. If we begin to see an issue, we can always skip a day mowing and roll a particular problem green if that occurs. We are out inspecting greens in the morning, mid-day and end of the day monitoring conditions. As the weather improves, so will the programs that will help improve ball roll. Later summer, fall golf is my favorite time of the year. Drier conditions and lower humidity have a tendency to provide for the potential to some pretty special ball roll out!
We are breaking out all of the tools to help us through this period.
We are using our polarized glasses which help to identify weakened or dry spot areas early before they actually show up to the naked eye. Healthy green plants look fine but stressed plants show up brighter red with these glasses. I usually have to take them off once I leave the green because it enhances every dry ring under trees and or stressed areas on the course. For a moment you might think you are on Mars!
We are taking moisture readings using our Spectrum Soil Moisture Meter to assist us in determining the % of moisture to a 3" depth that our greens are holding. I've not had to use the monitor much this season because of the frequent rains but the last few weeks have required the use of this tool. One of the things I have noticed recently is that our moisture levels are averaging 6-8% lower in general than they were last year before the green shows serious stress. Last year, a green was becoming stressed at right under 30%. This season, I'm seeing greens averaging 23-25% and the overall green is looking great with some spots being slightly stressed from levels in the teens and below. I know our root systems are pretty good for this time of year but I'm trying to come up with some additional answers of why the lower stress %. I did recalibrate my meter to make sure everything was correct. I believe some of the answers are from the new products we have placed in the rotation this season but we also cannot completely rule out mother nature.
I've also started using a compost tea called Bio Nectar on a regular basis which should be improving my microbial populations providing a better soil environment for turf to grow.
I'm using a wetting agent along with a penetrent combo monthly which assists with water management.
Lastly, I'm using Turf Screen which has been identified to reduce UV ray damage to turf and has been shown to reduce wilt and overall turf stress. I am seeing some of the turf going under stress but it seems to be happening at a slower and lesser degree than I've experienced in the past.
I don't necessarily think there is a silver bullet in our program. The GenNext product could be that but I want to see some reduction in poa annua this fall and next spring before I give it my complete and undying love and support! Each product as well as the other products we utilize help to provide the current conditions we experience. Also have to keep in mind that every greens unit is inspected for sharpness and height of cut before it goes out each day. This is another factor in our plant health care program that we should not forget.
In the end, five years of thankfully mostly good, sometimes average and I don't like to think about it but it has happened not so good managing of these old greens does count for something as well.