Golf Course Management

MAR 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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60 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 Building an agronomic plan is often compared to building a house and the importance of having a solid foundation. Although every year is different, you still need to have a plan going into the season. So how do you time your applications for the coming year? Based on what you've al - ways done? Based on what the weather did last year? Although there's no such thing as "normal," it can be argued that normal tem- peratures are the best guide we have for plan- ning purposes. In the meteorological world, "normal" has a very specific meaning — it's the 30-year average temperature or precipita - tion for a given day, month or year. Normal weather data take into account what happened last year, without overreacting to it, and also account for long-term changes in weather pat - terns that may occur over time (Figure 1). Many state climate offices have normal weather data available, and the NOAA Na - tional Centers for Environmental Information ( - mals ) has data available for many locations across the U.S. Normal low temperatures are most useful for foliar diseases, which tend to be most active at night (Table 1). Although normal soil temperature data are rarely avail - able, normal average daily temperatures are a good substitute for predicting root and soil- borne pests, especially in sandy soils, which tend to mirror air temperature very closely. Normal rainfall data can also be useful, especially if you live in a climate that has pro - nounced wet and dry seasons, such as south- ern Florida. Foliar diseases are generally less active during dry seasons even though the temperatures may be in their favorable range. Once you have your list of pests, the con - ditions that favor them and normal weather data for your location, writing an agronomic program becomes a lot easier. Then, plug in products or tank mixtures that will control the spectrum of pests expected to be active for each particular week. And by rotating chem - istries and using products like multisite con- tact fungicides, you can target key pests while combating resistance management issues. In your planning, you might find that your traditional timing for treating certain pests is off. For example, many turf managers begin brown patch programs too late or make spring dead spot applications too early, based on historical application dates that are no lon - ger valid. So, how do you select the best product for each application? You probably just read the label, right? But rather than relying solely on a label, you should also research product perfor - mance based on the latest available trial data. This information is available from many uni - versities, including the University of Kentucky and North Carolina State University, as well as some product manufacturers. Implementing a program: Be flexible Building an agronomic plan is often com - pared to building a house and the importance of having a solid foundation. However, houses are permanent structures that aren't easy to change. Perhaps something built with Legos is a better analogy. While the structure is solid, it is also easy to modify as conditions and Commonly used nighttime air temperature thresholds for foliar diseases and soil temperature thresholds for root-infecting pathogens. Temperature thresholds for important turfgrass diseases Foliar diseases: Use low air temperature to approximate night temperature Root diseases: Use average air temperature to approximate soil temperature Disease Night temperatures favorable for development Disease Night temperatures favorable for development Anthracnose >60 F Fairy ring >55 F Dollar spot >50 F Large patch 50-70 F Brown patch >60 F Pythium root rot >65 F Bermudagrass leaf spot 50-70 F Pythium root dysfunction 50-75 F Leaf and sheath spot (Rhizoctonia zeae) >70 F Spring dead spot 50-70 F Pythium blight (cool- season grasses) >65 F Summer patch >65 F Pythium blight (warm- season grasses) 50-60 F Take-all patch 50-65 F Take-all root rot 55-70 F Table 1. Commonly used temperature thresholds for important turfgrass diseases.

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