Old Palm News

Lee Bladen’s Turf Talk: The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow, Bet Your Bottom Dollar.

January 15, 2014

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The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow, Bet Your Bottom Dollar. By Lee Bladen Old Palm Golf Course Superintendent I hope everyone had a great Holiday Season with plenty of family, friends, football, and food. I did also but have never lost focus on trying to provide a great playing surface here at Old Palm. A lot of our efforts in the past few weeks have seemed to show less than desirable results and I think when the sun returns we should see a payoff on all of our inputs. We have been dealing with intense leaf spot pressure for eight weeks now on putting surfaces and fairways. Our course and other courses in the area are wetter than normal. The ball is not rolling out in fairways and greens are a little slower than normal. These recent swings in temperature are the recipe for Pythium and other continued disease pressure. Happy New Year! The weather is a big concern. The fact is we are wetter than normal. During a conversation with a noted agronomist he told me to review dew points and humidity. Dew points are 20% higher than average. Humidity is considerably higher. No dry December winds this year. Average temperatures in Palm Beach County were 8 degrees higher than normal. As we head past the winter solstice and shortest day of the year cloud cover has been abundant. Rainfall is 25 % more than normal for December and some folks have received over 2" of rain already in January. We are wetter than normal. We watered little or not at all in December. A friend with new putting greens has not been watering them because they don't need it. When a player says we are wet, they are correct. It is environmental not cultural. Outside of the greens being a little softer, maybe a little slower, and the fairways a little wetter, how does this affect the golf course? Increased disease pressure is one result. We have been in ideal leaf spot conditions for over eight weeks now. Most folks as we do are spraying a contact fungicide every 5 to 7 days. In reviewing the disease progression, the host (Tifeagle Bermuda greens) is certainly weakened by these overcast conditions and lack of photosynthetic periods. Combine that with moist soils which are ideal for disease pathogens, the probability of disease activity increases dramatically. Couple those factors with the recent temperature fluctuations we are experiencing and the potential for Pythium and others diseases becomes even much greater. Back to basics, Bermudagrass plant health is very compromised in these conditions. Bermuda likes sunlight. The simple photosynthetic equation is CO2 + Sunlight + Chlorophyll = Carbohydrate production and oxygen. We have not had much sunlight, so production is down and plants are stressed. What can we do? We can raise the height of cut to increase leaf surface area. We can alter fertilizer inputs to increase chlorophyll content so that when sunlight is available there is a greater chance for photosynthetic activity. These saturated conditions are also affecting microbial activity and root function therefore altering fertilizer availability. Lack of top growth on a plant is directly related to root growth. In these times of stress where the grass is not growing the root structure on the greens is extremely short. We are spraying improved foliar liquid products that are easily absorbed by the leaf without having to be root absorbed by a compromised root system. These products offer better potential for success in this environment. Higher than average temperatures has resulted in the plant needing more food, and more energy to grow. We need to give the plant available energy it can use now. Our liquid fertilizer program on the greens is every 4 days. Although the putting greens have extensive drainage we are trying to chemically to move the water through and out. Chemicals are used to flush unwanted materials through the soil profile and ultimately open the soil up to allow for more air and less moisture. During this time of extreme stress, we have chosen not to mow greens every day thus creating a longer long leaf blade to compensate somewhat for the reduced sunlight. Green speeds are being maintained by rolling once or twice each day. This increased demand for fertilizer applies also to the fairways, and we are continuing to move forward with more spray applications of fungicide and fertilizer. We are trying all the right things and if we can get some cooperation with the weather in the form of sunshine things will start to turn around.


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