Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Heat is On!

Oh, Momma!  Returned home from Madison around 6:30 PM yesterday to be greeted by 97 degree temperatures........IN MY HOUSE!  Not sure if we broke the triple digit classification, not really sure I wanted to be there to witness that record first hand for myself.  (Almost as bad as watching the Brewers lose the game with a lead.  Sheesh!)

With today forecast to be the hottest day of the year, you should know some of the things we are doing to combat the heat and to avoid a repeat of last years lost summer.  (The Summer of '11 was very warm and wet.  This year it has been very warm and dry.  A very big difference as we can put the water on easier than we can take it off.)

First, we have "raised" the height of cut on greens and have replaced the grooming rollers with solid ones.  Greens are "rolled" only on days of excessive stress or after early morning rains.  Green speeds will take a backseat to plant health.

Second, we have reverted to hand watering in conjunction with deep and infrequent irrigation cycles to insure our root systems stay healthy for as long as possible. Turfgrass roots need oxygen to survive.  Soil temperatures are rapidly approaching the point where root loss is eminent.  Soon we will be venting greens on a weekly basis through spiking and needle tine aerification.

Third, our chemical spray program are up to date.  Plant protectants are in place.  Vitamins, minerals, cytokinins, humic acids, you name it whatever the Doctor prescribed are in place.  The greens are still responding positively to the spoon feeding of fertilizers, however, the benefits of our PGR's are lost after a couple of days of this oppressive heat.

Fourth, we have backed off most cultural programs that stress the plants.  Those programs include but are not limited to a reduction in the frequency in verticutting, brushing, top dressing.  A great mentoring superintendent friend of mine always spoke "do yourself no harm."  No wiser words spoken in times of oppressive heat.

If you tour the course today you will see the Poa or Annual Bluegrass showing signs of heat stress, that is going off color becoming yellow.  Typically these are the older leaves of the plant that will drop from the plant as a means of protection and will be replaced by newer leaves upon the return of favorable cooler day and night time temperatures.  You will also note how razor thin the line error is between adequate soil moisture and not having enough.  Soil moisture levels well above 15% are quickly consumed on days with ninety degree temperatures, low humidity's and winds above 15 miles per hour.  Couple that with a sprinkler that "hangs up" no longer turning and just like that, you find yourself staring at more yellow turf!

That's that in a nutshell.  I can feel the weight of your expectations as I try my darnedest to carry this course on my back until the cool nights of August prevail.  See you in September.  _Mk