Friday, June 24, 2016

Would you rather?............

Is a fun game to play, and today I find myself asking if I would rather deal with "hot and dry" or "damp and muggy."  Since these two conditions are typical of our Northern Summers, these are the choices I provided for this game.  I have to say, "hot and dry" by far!  Now, I must clarify.  Dry is only tolerable if your irrigation coverage and output capabilities are adequate, if not, dry is no fun.  Our coverage and output is less than stellar, and typically hand watering replaces mowing.  We have discussed in the last couple of posts localized dry spots and how they also create the need for labor intensive hand watering.
Hand watering can also be necessary because as you can see in the photo, if we run the sprinkler to water the mound on the left, you would be hitting from soup on the right.  Irrigation is scheduled for adequate moisture in the majority of the playing surface and NOT the least common denominator.
The first photo also shows that the area affected by the dryness is relatively small in comparison to the entire fairway.  In the second photo, we zoom in on the area circled in the first photo.  Yuck, looks like a big dead spot, right?  In the third photo, we zoom in on the area in the second photo and reveal that with a little bit of moisture, we have begun to recuperate.  
Recuperation of these areas that were affected by moisture stress takes some time.  I constantly remind the staff to be careful when watering these areas.  The tendency is to expect them to turn green as you water them and thus drowning them and creating soggy areas that die and turn to dirt.  Educating the staff that these areas will take time to heal and that it is important to maintain the playability of these areas while nursing them back to health is a delicate balance.  "You can play off of brown, you can't play off of muck," is a phrase they have heard over and over again.  Encouraging them to be comfortable with the process and not expecting immediate results is a challenge.
I will explain why damp and muggy is not my choice when I return from battle with the dollar spot fungus which exploded overnight.
I would insert a clever hashtag to sign off with since my photos were edited with a popular social media app, but I really don't like hashtags.
I hope you have a marvelous day!

Sent from Erwin's phone, please excuse grammar and punctuation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Localized dry spot and water-fearing soil

Golf Course Superintendents speak some strange language.  For instance, hydrophobic soils; really?  Yes, it is true, the soil can begin to repel water. 
My series of photos show a contrast of two soil samples taken side by side.  These two areas receive irrigation from the same irrigation heads.
When we find this type of situation, obviously we must hand water, but we also turn to other tools to help out.  Marco is shown watering these areas with a device on the hose that can contain a "pellet" of wetting agents.  Certain wetting agents help remove the organic acid coating on the soil particles which contribute to the hydrophobicity.  The pellet is much like a soap, helping water get into the soil by breaking water tension.  Some wetting agents are designed to help hold water in certain situations.  The array of products have become difficult to dissect, so the USGA and Michigan State University helped out with this research
With all of the science and experience supporting us, there is still no magic bullet.  Since each course has a unique soil structure and water chemistry, each Golf Course Superintendent is on his/her own to determine what works for the property they steward.
Have a great day, they are now getting shorter,

Sent from Erwin's phone, please excuse grammar and punctuation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I will take "real rain" for $100 Alex....

The overnight and morning rain, sounded nice. It made the birds chirp louder, knocked down some of the dust off the patio furniture, but it didn't do a whole bunch to deficit of soil moisture.
The photo of the plug taken out of the ground shows very little moisture in the top portion of the plug. This time of year the roots are low and we want to punch the water down. The subsequent photos show just how dry that plug is, the soil crumbles into a dry powder. Superintendents often talk about thatch and controlling excessive amounts of thatch. The thatch in our fairways acts like a sponge and prevents water from moving down to the roots. Warm dry days with low humidity and light wind (like we have had), will pull moisture from the upper layers of thatch readily. Even though we have been watering, we can't put enough water down to move through the spongy thatch. The moisture we add overnight is simply pulled into the atmosphere during the day.
To try and manage these situations, we also utilize products called wetting agents or penetrants to reduce the water tension, and help the water down. Some guys will even take to strange customs like drawing turtles in the western-most bunker, but that's another post someday.
So, if you see us out hand watering today, we haven't gone crazy..........yet.