This year has been the tale of two golf seasons here in Michigan. We started out hot with extreme droughty conditions. Around the Fourth of July, the faucet turned on, and we have dealt with saturated soil conditions and high humidity. Wetting agent products can help you deal with both of these extremes and any weather conditions if you have the right products and a good understanding of how they work.

Penetrant-type products simply move water through the soil profile, while hydration products help hold water in the rootzone. There are also combination products that combine the two and come in all different ratios of penetrant to hydration. These options allow you to adjust on the fly according to current weather conditions. Tablets and granular options can also enable water managers to dial in their watering program by helping hold water on a more local basis. If a 50/50 product works well on your greens, except for some mound and surrounding spots, simply adding a granular holder to those tough areas can help even out your water while relieving some of your hand watering burdens.

The chart below shows the infiltration and hydration levels of products in the HydroPak line from Precision Laboratories.

If a golf course is exclusively a penetrant user, they missed a great opportunity earlier in the year to utilize tools that would have enhanced the performance of their playing surfaces and eased their watering labor needs with a hydration product. Over the past few weeks, the heavy penetrant products would have been a great choice given the weather conditions. In contrast, a hydration product would contribute to the already saturated soil conditions. Moving some of the water through the top layer can also lower some of the disease pressure these weather conditions have brought. Every property is different, and every golf course has its own unique water management style. Fortunately, there are tools that fit both scenarios.

Becoming comfortable utilizing all the wetting agent options can boost the performance of your playing surfaces while reducing the labor needed to produce them. Being “multiple” and having options in your chemical building allows you to make the proper adjustments at the right times as the weather brings its regular surprises. Talk to your ATS rep about all the tools out there to develop a tailored plan for your management style and course!