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It is my intention to give the readers a better understanding of what we do to maintain The Farms Country Club's 18 hole championship golf course and grounds.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Aerification & Turfco Triwave 40 Overseeding Complete!

Aerification and overseeding with our new Turfco Triwave 40 overseeder went very well! A special thanks goes out to Mark Osborn from Steven Willand Inc. in Brookfield, CT. Mark went the extra mile by getting the overseeder here on short notice. Excellent service!
All greens, collars and approaches were aerified and topdressed first. Then we overseeded in two directions. Overseeding immediately after topdressing brought up the perfect amount of sand to brush into the slits created by the machine and fill any aerifying holes that needed it.
You will notice some stressed turf, especially on collars, from the aggressive process we employed. Most of which will bounce back in the coming days.
You will also start to see seed germinating in the slices. To get the most from the overseeding, we will be lightly watering the greens several times per day to keep them moist.
Today we start the healing process! We are applying plant protectants and fertilizers to all the greens. All they need is a little time to grow without much mechanical stress. We will not be mowing or rolling much over the next few days to reduce stress. We expect another heat wave to hit in the next few days so we must remain cautious with our maintenance regime.
Expect the greens to be a little soft, slow and bumpy for a while. They will gradually improve over the next couple of weeks. It will be worth the wait!

Close up of Triwave 40
Chris running the overseeder
Close up of green surface after entire process completed. Notice that the diameter of the holes are reduced due to Triwave overseeding being done after aerification and topdressing.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

USGA Report... Thatch, Aeration & Fertility

The Big Pendulum

AUGUST 21, 2015
By David Oatis, Regional Director, Northeast Region

Recently, I’ve visited several golf courses where the accumulation of organic matter in putting green soils was a problem. You’re probably thinking I’m referring to excessive organic matter, because excessive organic matter in putting greens is a common problem – not this time. In excess, organic matter – or thatch – is a problem. A thick layer of thatch at the surface of a putting green functions much like a kitchen sponge – i.e., it retains moisture at the surface, keeping putting greens soft. Thatchy greens play poorly and have problems with localized dry spots, disease, scalping, algae, moss, etc. However, some thatch is essential because it stabilizes the soil and provides resiliency. Immature greens often do not have enough thatch and, as a consequence, frequently experience more injury from maintenance and golfer traffic.
The problem I’ve recently noticed on some greens – even older greens – is that they don’t have enough thatch. Insufficient organic matter can result from several factors like excessive aeration, verticutting, or topdressing and inadequate fertilization.
Several courses have reported above-normal turf growth and reduced efficacy of plant growth regulators this summer, which I attribute to peculiar weather patterns – especially rainfall. Regardless of the cause, a typical response has been to reduce nitrogen fertility until turf growth subsides. Reducing nitrogen fertility is becoming a common trend and, as has been observed many times in the past, low nitrogen fertility can work really well…for a while. Maintaining greens at lower nitrogen levels often results in faster green speeds and finer leaf texture, but greens receiving too little nitrogen rely on soil reserves that eventually will be depleted. The depletion of soil nitrogen reserves may happen slowly – making it difficult to detect – but the health, wear tolerance and wear recovery of turf gradually decreases under deficit nitrogen fertility. At first, you may notice that ball marks are slow to heal, the greens may be slow to heal from aeration or a gradual decrease in turf density. Over a longer period of time soil organic matter levels may decline. In extreme cases when organic matter levels become too low, putting greens can become unstable and more prone to disease outbreaks.
It wasn’t long ago that anthracnose was the scourge of annual bluegrass greens. Fortunately, research and field observation eventually revealed that increasing nitrogen fertility is one of the easiest ways to prevent anthracnose. Memories of anthracnose-ravaged greens have faded, but low nitrogen fertility programs threaten a return of anthracnose.
My advice? Don’t fall into the trap of repeating past mistakes. Low nitrogen fertility programs can work well for a while, but problems arise once nitrogen reserves are depleted. Don’t be fooled; malnourished turf is susceptible to numerous maladies – e.g., moss, algae, anthracnose, or an inability to handle stress and wear – which can be easy for the “next” superintendent to fix. Now is a good time to closely examine your fertility program. There are good trends and bad ones; an ultra-low nitrogen program is one trend to avoid.

August can be a great time to aerate greens, so aerators are beginning to fire up at courses across the region. With optimal growing conditions, aerated turf often will heal in a couple weeks, leaving the fall golf calendar free of disruption. However, August also can be a bad time to aerate if turf is weak or the weather is stressful. Be sure to carefully evaluate turf health before determining how aggressive to aerate. Also recognize that summer patch outbreaks can be kicked off with aeration. Make sure your turf is protected.