May 6, 2015

16 Green Recovery Program

I had originally thought that we had sustained only moderate Poa annua loss in our greens and collars coming out of winter this year.  Well, I was wrong.  The dry and open winter almost certainly wiped out all the Poa annua in our sand based greens and collars from direct low temperature kill.  The warm melting periods in December and January followed by temps in the -15 to -20 range directly following them without any snow cover on the ground was definitely the nail in the coffin.

Surprisingly however this year, very little of the Poa is recovering.  This is most likely due to the hot and dry start to spring we have had.  Poa annua thrives in cool and wet conditions, which is what we would typically think of in April and early May.  That has not been the case this year however.

While all greens have some Poa annua in them that died, 16 had much more that a lot of others, and absolutely none of it is showing any signs of life yet.

All of the green left on 16 is bentgrass.  Not a trace
of Poa annua is showing any life.
Because of the intensity and the coverage of the damage on 16 green, we are closing the green to allow for recovery.  This morning we slit seeded bentgrass into the surface in two directions, topdressed, fertilized and put down a cover.  With the help of the cover and our irrigation system that is finally fully functional, we should be able to get a significant amount of seed to germinate very quickly.  In the meantime, the practice hole by the driving range will serve as the temporary hole 16.

The bentgrass seeds are too tiny to see, but the slit seeder does a great job
getting them down into the mat layer where there is more moisture.

Topdressing the entire green with sand after seeding.

Getting the cover stretched out.

Just add water.

Taking a green out of play is the absolute last thing that I was hoping to do.  However, the damage was so severe on 16 I feel that if we did not take these steps to aid in some significant recovery, then there was a good chance the green would struggle the entire summer and may never fully recover until later in the fall.

There is however a silver lining to all of this.  Obviously, Poa annua is a horrible grass (well, weed technically) to have on our golf course as is evidenced by our greens and collars this spring.  There have been a lot of advancements in the last decade or so with newer bentgrass cultivars, growth regulators, and cultural practices that make taking Poa annua out and keeping it out much more realistic that ever.  This spring is giving us a huge jumpstart on getting our greens and collars back into being a stand that may one day hopefully be nearly devoid of Poa annua.

Most of the damage on the greens from the Poa dying looks more like this.  With
a little extra topdressing and fertilizer the bentgrass will quickly creep in and
take over these voids.

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