Button Up Your Golf Course With These Helpful Reminders
It won’t be long before we are wishing for summer heatwaves instead of winter’s cold and snow. Before that happens, let’s make sure your golf courses are ready. We have selected some of the states we have locations in and gave you a few things to remember to button up your golf course for winter.
- Get your height of cuts up early. Typically, you will go through a few fall weeks with slightly slower greens speeds doing this, but it is vitally important to raise your HOC before the first frost. This will allow you to build a canopy of grass that is full and ready for the stresses of winter foot traffic. In addition, this helps store carbohydrates that are crucial for winter survival and breaking dormancy with a more vigorous plant.
- Manage moisture levels on Ultra Dwarf greens before the cold of winter sets in. Too wet is always better than too dry. Moisture levels should be maintained around 20-30% going into the winter season and maintained at that level throughout the season.
- Make use of Phosphites. Phosphites in the winter have shown to help increase turgidity in the plant and form phospholipid membranes in the plant cell walls. This helps the plant build strong cells more rapidly. In particular, Foliar-Pak’s Gold Standard 45 uses amino acids that are quickly metabolized and converted into valuable defense structures.
- Spray broadleaves in the fall. Broadleaf weeds take up the herbicide better in the fall season.
- Use a pigmented product with your snow mold spray. The longer the fungicide stays on the plant the better protection you have in the winter.
- Stay up on your fungicide sprays in October. Late in the season, the temperature is optimal for dollar spot.
- Avoid burn out to continue critical practices, like aerification and fertilization. Advanced Turf can help you avoid burnout. Schedule your fairway and rough fertilizer applications with Advanced Turf. Our applicator will show up with the fertilizer you choose and can be completed before your first golfer ever knew they were there.
- A late-season broadleaf application can prove beneficial.
- Zoysia: Avoid low mowing heights as the zoysia goes into dormancy and restrict cart traffic through the winter months. Keeping a little “fluff” and not allowing carts will help prevent injury/ wear on the crown of the plant.
- Cool-Season: Avoid letting the cool-season grasses go to bed hungry. Fall fertilizer applications will allow the plant to build up carbohydrate reserves for a healthy start the following spring.
- All Grasses: Avoid letting things dry out too much going into winter. Dry conditions, coupled with typical spells of cold, windy weather, can lead to desiccation on all closely-mowed grasses. Late season wetting agents or penetrant applications can aid in maintaining adequate moisture levels through the winter.
- Watch excess nitrogen applications. Keep nitrogen applications to a minimum going into late September/early October, so you do not have excess growth or lush growth going into late October and November. This excess growth can potentially promote Microdochium patch (pink snowmold).
- If you have greens that are typically problematic and have too much shade going into winter even when the trees have shed their leaves, now is the time to thin out or remove trees.
- Apply your final fungicide spray of the season in late October (We should apply a fungicide labeled for pink snowmold and dollar spot every two weeks beginning early in September). Dollar spot and pink snowmold are very much a reality in Northern Michigan starting in late August.
- Let’s repair those areas of concern (grub damage, lost turf, drainage, aerification, wetting agents). Now is the best time for turf recovery, especially while soil temperatures are up. Find the plant type that best fits your needs and work in for good seed/soil contact.
- Lower mowing height of all rough grass and remove leaf debris as late as possible in the season.
- The timing of fall and dormant feed fertilizers, as well as any split pre-emergent herbicides, are key for spring plant health and weed control. A late-season broadleaf application can prove beneficial as well, especially when coupled with specialty Foliar-Pak products that enhance product uptake.
- Add a heavier layer of topdressing sand to your greens, once you are ready to put the mowers away for the season, it will help protect against high winds that can cause major stress to unprotected turf, particularly on mounds and high points of your golf course.
- Keep your nitrogen application to a minimum in your fall fertility. Over-applying large amounts of nitrogen late in the season can cause excessive growth, which can lead to susceptibility to disease.
- Watch the mechanical stress you put on Poa annua pre-dormancy/winter. Don’t overstress it.
- Aerifiy in the fall. You’ll course with thank you in the spring when play starts.
- As night time temps start to fall into the 60’s, you need to begin raising mower heights. Do not continue to mow at summer heights on any of your warm-season grasses. Raising the height allows for more leaf surface and prepares the plant for winter.
- Be careful of late-season nitrogen fertilization. You do not want too much top growth as the plant is beginning to prepare for dormancy. It’s better to cut out your nitrogen and apply potassium as this will make the plant more winter hardy.
- Water management in the winter is still essential, especially on short cut grass. The plant still needs water to prevent excessive dehydration, which could lead to several issues.
- Avoid application of high rates of quick-release nitrogen from mid-fall to year-end. Highly available nitrogen will lead to excessive top growth, which is not desirable going into a long winter. It also will not help the plant store nutrients/carbohydrates for the long winter ahead. High-Percentage, slow-release nitrogen or an organic nitrogen source would be preferred.
- Remember to include the use of wetting agents for spray programs in fall and snow mold product applications: wetting agents, especially penetrant technologies like Hydro-Pak Command, Aquatrols Dispatch, or Precision Labs DuPlex, will help any available moisture to penetrate the soil surface. This will significantly reduce the amount of surface water available during freeze/thaw cycles, and help to minimize the damage caused by crown hydration.
- Be sure to mark any dead or damaged trees for removal before all the leaves fall from the healthy trees. This will make it much easier to identify the trees needing to be removed once all of the leaves have fallen.