Monday, May 25, 2015

Spring Aerification

It's now been over two weeks since the greens were aerified.  This process is always evolving, based on the particular need we are addressing.  You might wonder why the greens need a different aerification plan now than in the past.  Well, the greens are over 25 years old, and in much the same way that the needs change for a person to remain healthy as they age, so too do the needs of a putting green.

Aerification helps remove excess organic matter when a plug is pulled, and helps dilute the existing soil profile when sand is used to fill the hole.  Traditional hollow tine aerifiers pull a plug 3-4" in length.  This also happens to be the approximate depth of sand and organic matter which has accumulated during the life of the greens.  Thus, we are finding that we are reaching the limit of a traditional aerifier being able to break through the built up material, and create a channel to the mix below.

What's the answer to this?  We decided to go with a one-two punch this spring.  On Wednesday, May 6, we aerified the greens with 3/8" hollow tines on a very tight spacing.  The plugs were removed (organic matter reduction) and the holes filled with sand. 

Phase two occurred the next day when we had an outside contractor come to the course with some unique aerifiers, called Dryject.  These machines use high pressure water to create a small hole on the surface, and sand is instantly vacuumed into this.  The company set the machines to the 4-6" depth we were looking for.

As you can see in the picture, the Dryject was able to get more sand, deeper into the soil profile when compared to a traditional core aerifier. 

Between the two processes, we used 90 tons of sand on the greens!  This combination of aerification practices provides benefits that will help the greens make it through this summer's heat.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Poa Seed Head Control--Succes or Failure?

Each year, beginning on January 1, we monitor growing degree days in order to determine the optimum timing for our spray program targeted at preventing Poa seed head development on the greens. 

If you looked at the greens last week, prior to being aerified, there definitely was a flush of seed heads on the greens.  At first glance, one might think that our applications of plant growth regulators did little to prevent seed head formation.

So how do we know how we really did this year?  One of the best ways to evaluate the efficacy of any treatment on the golf course is to leave untreated check plots.  The rectangular area in the picture below is a check plot on #14 green, absolutely filled with Poa seed. 

While our applications didn't prevent all seed head formation,   they clearly made a big difference in the quality of the greens this spring.  Without them, the entire putting surface would be like the check plot area. 

For those seed heads that still did form, thanks to some of our maintenance practices such as grooming, mowing and rolling, the bumpiness caused by Poa seeds hasn't been too bad throughout most of the day.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lean Greens

We've received a good deal of positive comments regarding the greens this spring.  A second application of plant growth regulators was made this week, in an effort to reduce the severity of Poa Annua seedhead formation, and the bumpiness which is associated with Poa seeds.

The greens have also been kept on a strict diet thus far, and like a competitive athlete, are looking "lean."  We obviously keep close track of what has been applied to the greens.  However, sometimes it's tough to judge just how stingy we've been with greens fertility, until you see an area that actually received some fertilizer.

Often times on greens, this contrast can be seen following a bird's deposit.  Currently though, we're seeing some speckling where a few prills of the fertilizer used in the Bluegrass surrounds got onto the greens.

A few speckles of green caused by fertilizer.

Of course, another indicator of how lean the greens are is the clipping yield from the mowers.
Not much grass from mowing an acre of greens!