Golf Course Management

DEC 2012

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

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Page 41 of 125

THE INSIDER: turf Turf and surf Hurricane Sandy is the latest, but undoubtedly not the last, manifestation of extreme weather patterns predicted by meteorologists — more frequent and more severe storms appear to be the norm. When it comes to golf courses, flooding with saltwater is one of the more serious sources of turfgrass dam- age resulting from these storms. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, water covered several holes, includ- ing portions of greens, for two days at Pine Orchard Yacht & CC, Branford, Conn., where Peter Gor- man is the superintendent. Photo by Kevin Doyle the sodium adsorption ratio (SAR) to de- termine whether there are problems with the soil structure and water infiltration and percolation. All irrigation water sources should be NEWS & notes Pennsylvania Turfgrass Research Inc. and Penn State have announced that the university's new research endowment has been named in honor of Penn State alumnus Stanley J. Zontek, who passed away in August. Zontek, the director of the USGA Green Section's Mid-Atlantic Region at the time of his death, received the department of crop and soil sciences' 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni who have made a significant contribution to their profession. PTRI chair Jerred Golden said, "No graduate from the Penn State program had a bigger impact on our industry, and no one has been a better ambassador for the program around the world than Stanley Zontek." The endow- ment supports research conducted by Penn State students and faculty to provide solutions to turfgrass problems in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. For information about the Stanley J. Zontek Turfgrass Endowment, contact Peter Landschoot at pjl1@psu. edu or 814-863-1017 or John Kaminski at Cooperative Extension Services at universities across the country (Clemson, University of Flor- ida, Louisiana State and Mississippi State, among others) provide information about turfgrass care before and after a disastrous storm. GCSAA and its chapters also have advice on their websites. This column addresses a few things superinten- dents can do to cope with (and possibly reduce) the destruction caused by saltwater flooding. Mike Goatley, Ph.D., from Virginia Tech ad- vises superintendents to avoid making regularly scheduled applications of fertilizer, seed, pesticides and other chemicals just before a storm. However, applying a plant growth regulator (PGR) like trinexapac-ethyl a few days before the storm hits can slow turf growth during the worst conditions and result in better recovery after the storm has passed. Mowing is also an option if conditions permit asp?id=373&page=9944&newsId=5059). Turfgrass cultivars with greater salt tolerance will be more likely to experience fewer prob- lems with recovery. Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, seashore paspalum and creeping bentgrass have good relative salt tolerance (1,500 ppm total sol- uble salts); perennial ryegrass and tall fescue have moderate tolerance (800-1,000 ppm total soluble salts); and fine fescue and Kentucky bluegrass have poor tolerance (600-800 ppm total soluble salts). After the storm, soil salinity should be tested before reseeding or overseeding with a less tolerant species like perennial ryegrass. Superintendents should also test salt levels in Presented in partnership with Barenbrug 38 GCM December 2012 the soil (electrical conductivity of 4-12 deciSie- mens/meter are considered medium levels) and tested for salinity levels. If irrigation lakes and ponds have been contaminated with salt, the water should be replaced with clean river or well water. Irrigating with highly saline water (~1,200 ppm total soluble salts) will stress the turf, and even levels of 500-600 ppm total soluble salts can damage the turf unless it is periodically flushed with fresh water. Mud or silt deposited on turf, especially on greens, should be removed with a flat-headed shovel, and then fresh water should be used to wash the soil from the surface of the green. Fol- low with heavy irrigation to flush the soil mate- rial into the subsoil. Where mud and silt have been deposited, verticut and aerify (depths of 8-12 inches may be necessary) to promote good drainage and manage soil salinity. Gypsum can reduce sodium in the soil. Super- ( intendents should core-aerate the affected area, incorporate gypsum into the soil and then irri- gate with at least 1 foot of water to leach the salt from the soil. A University of Florida publication ( D06-20.PDF) describes a simple experiment that helps superintendents to determine whether gyp- sum applications will benefit their soil. With storms like Hurricane Sandy, turfgrass may remain submerged for days. Although little research has been done, Jack Fry, Ph.D., found that bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and centipede- grass in Louisiana could survive up to 55 days of submersion, and other research has reported that cool-season grasses could also survive several days of submersion. Although storms can wreak havoc on a golf course, turfgrass is remarkably resilient, and many superintendents have reported fewer turf losses than they expected — even in the after- math of a superstorm like Sandy. GCM Teresa Carson ( is GCM's science editor. Teresa Carson

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