August Roots and the dangers of herbicides

Cup changing plays many roles. The first is to spread the wear around the green. As I have mentioned in this blog before there is not a green keeper in the world that given the chance would put the cup in the middle of the green in spring and leave it there if they could. The constant complaints range from "that location is unfair" to "the color of the flag was off". So while we change the location we use the time to inspect the green in many ways: How is the overall appearance: healthy, stressed, dry, wet, hungry etc? Some of the questions are visual and some are answered by inspecting the top plug.

2 green. mostly annual bluegrass Poa Annua. shallow roots "hockey puck" or "pancake"

4 green, I believe. notice how much larger, ie deeper roots
When we cut a new cup we use a two step method. We insert the cutter to approx 4-5 inches and remove the plug and place it in the bucket. We then re-insert the cutter gently so a not to destroy the new edge. Continue digging until final hole depth and then remove and insert into old hole reversing steps until complete. When we have this plug out of the ground we inspect it for various things: color, smell, size, weight, moisture content, root mass as well as a closer inspection of the above mentioned criteria. Color refers to not only the top grass but also the soil. The lighter the color the dryer it is, but why smell? Well if the soil is over saturated it will build up anaerobic bacteria and have a foul smell. A healthy soil has it's own distinct smell. The size and weight help determine root depth and moisture content respectively. We will also ball up a piece of soil and see how it holds together. Dry soil will not form a ball and crumble in your hand. We will often find roots shooting out of the bottom of the plug for an additional 2-4 inches and these are most likely from old deep tine aerifier holes. Sometimes, especially in late summer the plug will break off and this is a true indication of how deep our roots are. I often try to make the plug break just to force this issue. The pictures above demonstrate the difference in root depth from green to green. EVERYTHING we do in maintenance is from the soil up. We try to grow roots to have a healthier plant. That is why the salt water intrusion is such an issue for us because it messes with basic chemistry in the soil and how nutrients and water are available to the plant. So our conversion to bent grass on greens is also shown in the pictures with the green with the most Poa, 2, has the shallowest roots by far.
Also while changing cups we often find surprises: an odd rock, tree roots etc. The picture below is from the back middle of number eight. I should have cut it out to get a better visual. it was a decent size for how far into the green it was. Competition from trees is a major problem on our course as I described here in an earlier post.

tree root right in the middle of a new hole location 8 green
Just about two weeks ago I applied a selective herbicide on 3 holes and the range fairway. I was attempting to try and stay ahead of the crabgrass. We used pre-emergent chemicals attached to our spring fertilizer this year and still had some break through. I have mentioned here in a couple of posts about our increased attempts to stay ahead of the crabgrass issue this year. One of the reasons for this diligence is the risks of herbicide damage when it is hot. Now it was not forcasted to be exceptionally hot on the day I applied this and by all accounts it should have been fine. I am working with the manufacturer and our sales rep to deal with this problem as they too do not like to see these results:

2 fwy herbicide damage. not all species affected but some killed outright

2 fwy notice the sections not sprayed

2 red tee. this is typical chemical burn: off color minor turf loss

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