Friday, July 24, 2009

Turf - Weather Changes Mean Added Stress

Following a cool, wet, spring, turf will suffer challenges in the hot summer during dry periods. The following is an article on the subject from Rutgers University. Although it is focusing on golf courses and putting greens, the same effects will be seen on lawns and other turfgrass areas.

As the weather turns, so goes the turfgrass. Beautiful fall-like weather (I know it’s July) over the July fourth weekend really changed the dynamics on golf course putting greens in our region. Endless days of rain and overcast skies through May and June have been replaced with low humidity, high skies, cool breezes and moderate to high temperatures. Superintendents have been talking about super-saturated root zones and poor root mass for several weeks now and worrying about an abrupt change to summer heat. Those plants compromised by the wet spring were suddenly faced with a significant increase in transpiration demand. Over the last few weeks, we have seen plenty of poorly performing turfgrass on tough sites, but now we are starting to see plants that simply couldn’t keep up with the change in the weather. Putting green samples of both annual bluegrass and bentgrass are being submitted to the laboratory at a vigorous pace (25 this week). All of them have the same symptoms – slight thinning, poor growth and leaf tip scorch. The submissions came from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to the south and out to the tip of Long Island to the north. Some samples, of course, look worse than others. Those where we find slight fungal insults - like Pythium root dysfunction or Curvularia fading out - or site related issues - like shade, compaction, or thatch - have more severe symptom expression. All of the samples; however, regardless of the source have the leaf tip scorch symptom in common. Pay close attention to the moisture needs of your turf areas moving forward and keep a careful eye towards stress related disease. There was a long period of wet and cloudy weather this spring and I think our turf may need to feel a little pain before it overcomes it.

Adapted from information by Richard J. Buckley, Director, Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic
Services, Rutgers University

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