Random observations and Chemistry management

A little over a week after aerifying and topdressing greens and approaches the grass has grown through it all and is back to normal. One Superintendent I worked for used to compare it to open heart surgery and say you wouldn't expect a patient to be 100% the next day would you? There are many details that go into having a successful cultural practice such as aerifying and topdressing:
  • The amount of moisture in the soil has a big impact on how the tine penetrates and the effectiveness of the entire process. Too wet and the machine can leave ruts that will impact ball roll and also impact the ability to work the topdressing. Too dry and the green could wilt during the process and be too hard to have a good impact.
  • The weather is huge. I have explained how aerification is best done dry: if cores are pulled they clean up better dry, topdressing works into the turf better dry when either brushed or blown and also faster. If the sand is wet in storage, which most is unless you purchase kiln dried and store it in a silo or building, so you need to leave it on the surface to dry and the longer that takes the longer the entire process.
  • The overall health of the turf to start with. If you have a weak shallow rooted turf and then attempt to aerify and topdress all of the mechanical stresses of driving on it, dragging a brush, the abrasiveness of the sand etc will all take a toll and potentially give a product that is worse than when you started.
  • Fertility level. The addition of topdressing sand is to aid in smoothing the surface, protect the crown of the plant, break down thatch, amend the soil, and all of this needs to happen below the very surface of the grass. We want the sand to get off the surface as fast as possible. If the greens are not growing this will slow that process. Modern greens management relies on growth regulation. We start off in the spring applying chemicals to suppress seed heads and continue using chemicals, often on a weekly basis, that suppress vertical growth. This regulation is what gives you not only faster speeds but also consistent speeds throughout the day. We carefully monitor clipping yield to gauge how much suppression the grass is under. When you come off regulation and add fertilizers the grass will explode in growth from the added fertility and the "rebound" coming out of regulation. If properly timed this could be a good thing as you witnessed here. We had a slow first couple of days because of the weather and our ability to work the sand into the turf. Once we were over that the turf was growing in leaps and bounds. If you had the mis-fortune to play Monday morning you witnessed first hand what I am talking about. The mowers used in the beginning to mow off the initial sand take a beating and need to be sharpened after each use. It took a couple hours to get that done Monday morning so long wet greens were more like putting on fairways. By Wednesday we had applied our growth regulator and mowed them a few times with the regular cutting units and they were back to normal. Within 7 days of aerifying you could scarcely find a hole they had filled in so much. I double cut them today and they look as good as ever so the timing of the flush was successful.
  •  Luck. all the staff show up?, all the equipment run properly?, not only the ones used in the process but the others on the course, no calamities the night before like a sprinkler stick on (1st green this year) and flood the green, branch fall on something, you get the idea, anything that will take your attention and manpower away from the task at hand.

Look closely for the red putting green flags, Fall River CC glad we missed this storm
flock is getting big hard to tell whos' who

large amount of ants on greens after topdressing, not sure whence they came

skunks are starting their annual forage

off-island crew working on the new gas pump which was having issues
 So the Derby is in full swing, the early season on geese has begun and the deer are sure restless as well being spotted all over the property. the skunks have started tearing up the place looking for grubs. Since we only treat greens and tees with the insecticide to kill them there may be plenty out there. Let's hope we avoid major damage this year. Enjoy the beginning of the Fall season.

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