Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Another key project the grounds staff completed this week, was our spring pre-emergent herbicide application to all Bermuda on the golf course. This application is very time sensitive and critical to the overall cleanliness of the golf course during the season. When dealing with pre-emergent herbicides, timing is very important. I'd rather apply two weeks too soon than a day late. Pre-emergent products are, by definition, only designed to control weeds before they germinate. Therefore, if you wait too long, and the weeds germinate, there will be no control of the weeds and your time & money is wasted. The general time frame to control summer annual weeds, with pre-emergent herbicides, in this part of the country, is mid-March to mid-April. So if any of you homeowners are reading this and have been putting it off, get out and put down your pre-emergent products in the next week or so before it's too late.
As you can see from the picture above, the pre-emergent was applied using our fertilizer spreader. Purchasing the herbicide coated on a fertilizer granule is the most efficient and cost effective application method. It took our staff less than two days to apply the product versus almost two weeks if we sprayed it using our spray rig. A little accuracy is lost during the application by using this method, but the savings in time make up for it. This application will keep our weed pressure down until the product starts to wear off in mid-August. We will then go out with another product in late September to guard against winter annuals.
March, in our part of the country, is the beginning of the golf season. It is also when many parts of the golf course begin to wake up from their winter slumber with the Bentgrass on the greens being the first turf to wake up. Although we may mow and change cups occasionally leading up to mid-March, once we core aerate, that seems to be the beginning of our season. As turf growth increases, the staff will begin to input more resources (topdressing, fertilizer, verticutting, handwatering, etc). One of the most important processes we can do to maintain great greens is core aeration.
Core aeration is critical to the overall success and sustainability of the putting surfaces. Aeration improves plant health by improving the oxygen content, and drainage capacity of the soil. Improving the oxygen content helps encourage healthy soil biology and allows the turf to cope with all the stresses we throw at it throughout the season (low/frequent mowing, foot traffic, shade, heat, etc.).
The process physically removes cores of soil and turf at a designated diameter and spacing. We use those parameters to determine the total amount of material removed each time we aerate. Once the cores are removed and then cleaned off the green, pure sand is added to the surface and then brushed into the holes. The sand is added into the holes for two reasons. First, it stabilizes the soil, because that many open holes would leave the green soft and almost unplayable. Second, it helps dilute the organic material in the soil that couldn't be removed during the process. As you can see from the pictures to the right, a lot of material is removed during the aeration process. This will firm up the greens and allow us to maintain optimum plant health throughout the season. A follow up aeration will be performed in September.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Although the process is violent and is aggressive in the soil, at the surface all that is left is a small amount of sand at the top of each hole. After the machine is through, the green is then rolled and brushed to smooth the surface farther. We completed this project last Thursday and did not close any holes. In fact, the member skins game played on the competed greens hours after we'd finished and they couldn't believe how smooth and fast they were. Then on Saturday morning, while I was on the 1st tee chatting with members about the process, I was very pleased to hear the number of compliments on the process and final result.
Although the DryJect process creates channels of sand in the profile similar to a traditional core aeration, it is not meant to replace the traditional hollow tine core aeration process. Rather, it is meant to be a supplement to an already established program. After discussing the process with the rest of the staff, we feel that this process could be a great option if our soil tests dictate more aeration is needed but cannot withstand the amount of surface disruption and lost revenue from discounted rounds and lost play during the height of the golf season.