The following statements were made by Dr. Lee Miller, University of Missouri Extension turf grass Pathologist. They were opening remarks to his last four messages over the past two months.
He supplies biweekly reports regarding turf grass issues that are being seen throughout our region. He talks about what he is seeing and then discusses potential cultural practices that have proven effective to improve turf conditions. Of course, when most of the issues are environmental and or weather related, one has to wait and be patient before real and effective improvement is seen.
March madness may be over, but the consistent wet and cool weather pattern seems to be sticking around in MO. Temperatures are slated to rise slightly over the next few days, and infection of zoysia grass by the large patch pathogen will presumably be occurring. The over abundance of rainfall may not only flood the Missouri River, but also result in a flood of large patch in the region.
"This wet weather pattern is shaping a severe season for this disease, and this weekend's warm-up will likely get large patch pressure cooking. With the amount of rain the region has experienced, I expect fall fungicide applications may not be entirely sufficient for control and spring applications may be necessary.”
The wet winter and spring is causing some head or belly aches for some zoysia managers in STL and mid MO. The wettest winter since 1984-85 and subsequent cool and rainy spring pattern has resulted in slow, and perhaps no, green-up thus far. Widespread winter kill of well maintained ‘Meyer’ zoysia would be a first since I arrived in 2010.
"Several reports in the last week have expressed extreme concern over the lack of zoysia green-up, and the potential for large amounts of winter kill on some golf courses and home lawns. As mentioned previously, the 2019 winter was the wettest since 1984-85, and the 5th wettest on record.”
Spring is running about 50-70 base 50 growing degree days slower than last year, but most plants and spring turf grass diseases are in full bloom. This week’s warm up will hopefully spark warm-season grasses out of their slumber, and let worried turf grass managers and homeowners know if the wet winter won the battle.
A ton going on in the past week, and unfortunately a lot of it falling from the sky. Preliminary reports are that May probably will be the wettest on record in Missouri and those in Kansas City broke the record for sure with an astounding 12.82” in the month. Winter kill reports on warm-season grasses are also widespread across the state. In the good news category, cool-season grasses are faring well in this mild weather.
Even though it seems that rain has never let up, we have been able to make progress on the golf course. The wet conditions have still made it difficult to mow regularly but when we have been given a little open window, we have been able to improve overall conditions throughout the course over the last couple of weeks.
We just fertilized our warm season tees about 10 days ago. We hope to get our fairways fertilized soon but conditions have been so wet and or storms being predicted that we did not want to lose the benefits of the fertilizer so we have delayed this application. We use about 5-6,000 pounds so its important to make sure most of it stays on our property at Glen Echo.
We are starting to see some growth in the fairways even without the fairway fertilizer. We mowed last Friday and Monday and there were some clippings beginning to accumulate from the mowers so we are getting growth.
The slowest that I've had greens to heal after aeration over the last 10 years at Glen Echo. When we completed the aeration in March, our average temperature model was about two weeks behind last year. As we moved closer to May 1st things began to tighten up. We had a number of night time lows below freezing which stunted the healing process in March and April. We also provide significant growth regulation in the early spring to our greens to reduce the impact of seed heads in the stand of poa annua we have throughout our putting surfaces.
Our control this season was exceptional for the most part but it did significantly effect the healing process. Once we were a month into seeing the holes were not closing, we allowed our regulators to run out. From around May 1st on the greens have not been regulated but have been very slow to grow. This is mostly due to wet soil conditions and reduction of overall sunlight. We've been able to mow one day and roll the next because of the slow growth. As we have begun to warm, we have been increasing to almost daily mowing to improve ball roll. We have also started rolling on days that we mow to increase roll out.
We've had pretty good success in combating large zoysia patch on fairways with just a spring application of fungicide but this season was not very good. Probably the worst I've seen in the 29 years I've been in the business. It does thin the turf but once we apply a curative application, the disease usually begins to go into check and the grass begins to fill in. We will probably do a fall application on the most severely impacted fairways this season to discourage a repeat performance in the spring of 2020. There are still some areas of activity but they are smaller in scope and should begin to fade as temperatures increase and the rain hopefully subsides.
We've also treated fairy rings that have popped up as well. Most are in check but some appear to have loss of turf. We will replace these over the next couple of weeks.
Over the last 10 years, we have worked diligently on attempting to corral the berrmuda grass in our fairways and intermediate through mostly chemical treatments but also with sodding. We have some areas that need repair and we will work on those over the next couple of weeks.
We will be spraying our healthiest fairways where the bermuda is beginning to pop up in small spots to allow the zoysia grass to spread and improve. We will also begin to aerate fairways and tees as conditions begin to dry. We will probably not do a large scale aeration operation but will be foreced to do individual fairways at a time during the month of June. Our goal is eliminate the disruption of the fairways before the end of June to allow our zoysia to heal and be in great shape from July 4th through the end of October. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars on chemicals, sod and man-hours improving these surfaces and will continue this work. We do not want to take steps backwards.
We have been pretty lucky here at Glen Echo this season on the amount of total turf loss we've experienced in our zoysia. Some clubs have had to replace complete fairways. We have a few isolated areas. Our thin areas will begin to improve as we dry, warm up and apply nutrients.
The staff have worked very hard at keeping damage to a minimum while operating equipment which has caused some difficult conditions for you and the game you love to play. Last week, we were able to string trim around all trees through Hole 15. We've been able to do a little less push mowing of certain areas. I still warn you if you are in the lowest area of a hole, it is probably the wettest spot and could lead to damage or a cart being stuck so be careful out there.
We've been for the most part hand raking bunkers this spring to allow the sand that we added in late winter to firm. Two tee looks great but was very slow to set roots but we finally opened it last weekend. We added about a foot of dirt to the surface which had to firm causing additional delays in our sod being laid. Much different than the fifth tee last season which was basically leveled on the existing surface. A few limbs and or small trees will be removed to increase sunlight which will be necessary for the zoysia to flourish on this new teeing ground.
One of the things that my experience has taught me is to remain patient. I've come to understand that most of the difficulties we face as turf managers comes from within and being impatient and trying to force mother nature and do too much. Mother nature always wins these battles so I remain patient and attempt to not freak out like the guy below. Hope to see you on the golf course soon!