Spring Greens Management
Spring means a lot of rapidly changing weather patterns and conditions, leaving golf course superintendents often feeling like they’re on a roller coaster. With so many important agronomic and conditioning tasks to complete in the spring rush, let’s review some important greens management tips to not miss out on.
Turn the sprinklers on and watch them through a complete rotation to make sure they’re working properly. They should be level at the right height and not have interference from the surrounding turf. Double-check that the sprinkler heads are turning properly and the nozzles are unobstructed.
Inspect your greens for any disease issues they may have developed throughout the winter months when you were not on them every day. It’s a good idea to make an initial greens application that includes a tank mix of multiple active ingredients, both systemic and contact. This application will help knock down any active disease and get ahead of the curve for the disease pressure yet to come.
In many areas, disease pressure in the spring is not as intense as in the summer months. Still, spring is an important time for preventative applications. Some typical “summer” issues, such as Pythium root dysfunction & rot, take-all patch, and summer patch, are actually best addressed early for prevention throughout the summer. Treat these diseases proactively by making your initial systemic fungicide applications when soil temperatures are in the 55–65°F range. For best results, make sure to water them in properly as well.
If you’re in the camp of turf managers who apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your greens, don’t let the timing of this important application slip past you. Crabgrass and goosegrass begin their germination process in the 55–65°F soil temperature range as well, so you’ll want to have your pre-emergent application done by then. With various temperature-related applications around the same time, many combine multiple products into soil sprays that will be watered in for best results.
One product you might include in your spring soil spray is a wetting agent. While many wait until later into the season to apply wetting agents, the best results of moisture management come from earlier applications. Specifically, applying a wetting agent before localized dry spots develop is ideal because LDS is difficult to treat curatively. A wetting agent that contains penetrants and retention agents, such as BioWet or Infiltrip, is best for this application. The combination improves infiltration and helps maintain proper soil moisture in the root zone. Another effective wetting agent for greens applications is Percolate, which improves penetration while maintaining soil volumetric water content.
Once critical soil applications are applied in a timely manner, it’s just a matter of staying on top of a regular fungicide regimen and any spring fertility applications that suit your management style. All of these activities are preparing the turf for the harsh summer marathon we face ahead. Those who take care of business with critical spring cleanup and preventative applications will be much better prepared to survive the summer roller coaster that is coming.
Thank you to Ryan Smith and Steve Honeycutt for their assistance with this blog post.