Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stupid Groundhog!

Puxatony Phil
March 20th, the first day of Spring my Facebook page just lit up with demands to fire the fury little weather prognosticator for his prediction an early Spring!  Six weeks earlier on February 2, I was in the Minneapolis Airport watching CNN's coverage of this rodents prediction of an early Spring because he did not see his shadow.  How could he see his shadow I've always thought, he's nearsighted for heavens sake?  I on the other hand on the second of February was heading to San Diego were I knew the weather would be a constant 72 degrees and perfect.  Cold, wet, foggy, grey dreary sky's most of my time there made me wish I hadn't left my winter coat in my car at the airport.  I should have realized then and there that Phil got it wrong.  The nightly news on the 20th made the comparison between this and last years weather.  What a contrast.  I did a little digging of the data from our weather station and here is what I found.

                                                     March 20     Highs/Lows
                                                     2013            18.4/4.5
                                                     2012            80.8/59.7

Wow!  I know for a fact that the course was open and white balls were being batted about with the hot new white drivers.  Not going to see that until some time in April this year I'm afraid to tell you. 

For future weather prognostications, I think I'm going to back to the tied dried and true Farmers Almanac for mine.  But in Phil's defense; there's always six weeks of Winter between Feb 2 and March 20th until the start of Spring.  Hoping to see some green grass soon!  _Mk

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I wish I had said that!

In my earlier post, I mentioned I had a lot of time off this past Winter.  I spent that time reading and by that, I mean a lot of reading.  I'm not the fastest reader in the world and like to read every article word by word and each magazine from cover to cover.  I always set out to skim articles, but tend to revert back to old habits. Just like everyone else, I manage to lose my focus when something is written that causes my mind to wonder to circumstances that affect my life and or work.  I would like to share some of those with you.  Just a sampling of some of the nuggets I picked up.

"You can cut costs only to zero.  After that, you must actually make money."
                                                                                                                         - Henry DeLozier

"This is survival of the fittest time, folks.  The smart will live and dumb will die.  And please God, let the dumb die soon for they hurt all of us through discounting, poor service and turning people away from the game by treating customers like crap."
                                                                                                                          - Pat Jones

"It's what you learn After you know it all that matters most."
                                                                                                                           -Ken Magnum

I also picked this up in my reading this winter.  I've been concerned about this "pay me now, or pay me latter" agronomically for some time as budget cuts plunged most courses into survival mode.

"The take home message is that changes in your N fertilization program my not be obvious for many years.  For example, if next year we reduced the double N rate treatment to the same rate as the half N rate treatment, the turfgrass visual quality and color would not drastically change because soil N can make up the difference for several years.  Eventually the soil N bank will go broke and the greens will struggle to recover from stress and wear.  When the problem finally is noticed several years later, it wouldn't be obvious that low N fertilization caused the greens to decline because the fertility had been the same (low) for many years while the greens performed well."
                                                                                                                        - Dr. Doug Soldat

"Experience breeds Instinct!"
                                                                                                                        -Ken Smith

Let's hope so!  Lets pray we have a "normal" year so that my instincts can serve me well.  I do not need the unpredictable curve balls thrown at us by Mother Nature as she has over past three years.  I'll need them to as the fairway puddles have turned to frozen lakes after all the rain of last weekend.  Arrgh!  _Mk

Friday, March 8, 2013

Investing your money wisely!

While in San Diego to attend the Golf Industry Show you paid me to attend a one day seminar on "Managing Bentgrass Golf Greens under Heat-Stress Conditions" presented by Dr. Bruce Martin and Dr. Bert McCarty of Clemson University.  I chose this seminar to gain better understanding of all the factors present last year that led to the decline and death of a few of our turfgrass putting surfaces.  (I must be a glutton for punishment as I took the seminar "Advanced Stress Management Strategies for Cool-Season Turfgrasses by Dr. Jack Fry and Dr. Bingru Huang in 2012 after the summer from hell in 2011.)

I gleaned several take home messages from this class but one I would like to share with you.  When reminded that the break even point for bentgrass under heat stress was 86 degrees, that is the point when a plant consumes more food than it can produce in a days time. (Photorespiration) I had a question that just begged to be asked.

So I asked the professors what I could do to alleviate the problem of using "hot water" in this case above 90 degrees to syringe greens in an effort to "cool" them down?  Their reply, "My that is a problem, I'm not sure you can!"  Of course 90 degree water is much cooler than a surface temperature of 125 degrees.  To that end, I will be using an old fashioned temperature probe in conjunction with my moisture meter when deciding to hand water greens in the future and pray that we don't "poach" the roots!

The professors also commented that "excess water" kills more bentgrass and thatch holds a lot of water which reinforces the benefits of aerification.  If anything I'm guilty of maintaining greens too dry.  Firm and fast you know.  High soil temperatures are more detrimental that high air temperatures and root growth stops when soil temperatures are greater than 77 degrees.  Now if there were only a way to lower soil temperatures to 68 degrees with our 90 degree river water!  (The thought of spreading ice cubes over the surface of our problem greens isn't as far fetched as you might think.)

The class started at 8 AM and lasted past 5 PM when questions were still being asked.  As I review the instruction manual, there are far too many sections to bore you with but chock full of strategies to implement should we encounter another stressful summer like those of the past three seasons.  You can never have too many aces up your sleeve! _Mk

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Here we go again?

Curiosity got the best of me.  I knew I would find ice once again on putting surfaces, but the question was "how much?"  So I grabbed my snow shoes from my garage, bolted them on my feet and went for a walk.  (I had forgotten how tiring walking in the snow could be so I managed a little exercise to boot.)

I figured I would find ice on the first green but what kind of ice?  Would I find solid clear ice, milky white ice (preferred) and at what thickness would I find it?

Snow depths over most open areas of the golf course average about 12" in depths.

Point confirmed, ice present! (But it is present like this every year.)  I'm guess estimating that the ice layer formed the 10th of February when all day rains turned my driveways into a sheet of ice.  (For some reason our onsite weather station did not record any rain for that day and needs to be checked.)

While the picture doesn't show real well, the depth of the ice is approximately 1 -1.25 inches thick.  Touring other greens adjacent to the first reveled .25 inch of ice cover on #10 and ice to a depth of 1 inch in the drainage pattern on #8.

What are we going to do about it?  Right now, nothing.  The ten to twenty five day forecast is calling for seasonal temperatures.  Nothing too warm.  This might be a good thing.  What we need is a nice slow melt. A fast quick thaw might trigger the plants to break dormancy and then the possibility of death occurs when temperatures fall back into the teens, which we know they will.  The ice this winter formed late enough in the year that I'm not at all worried about ice suffocation.  (60 days for Poa; 150 days for Bent.)  Our snow melt in mid January found unfrozen soils and the water drained away leaving behind no harmful puddles.  Also, aerification holes will allow for faster drainage and drying of putting surfaces when snow melt does happen.

What we have going for us this year is the benefit of a late season deep tine aerification coupled with a second solid tine aerification and a heavy topdressing to protect the plants.  The aerifications will improve surface drainage and oxygen exchange.  The topdressing will protect the crowns of the plants.  Also I allowed the greens to "shag out" like the winter coat on horse to allow the plant additional leaf surface to maximize food production and storage.  (Plant health.)  Also, the extensive work regrassing putting greens that thinned out or succumbed to last years drought should pay dividends too.  Your greens were as healthy heading into winter as I have seen them for some time.

With that said, today I will be looking into pricing out a snow blower that will fit on our tractor to help us remove snow and ice as quickly as possible, if needed, when the time comes.  _Mk