Golf Course Management

FEB 2016

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

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02.16 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 79 color than the balance of the stem tissue. Cankers are serious degraders of the conduc - tive vessels of a tree. Stem-girdling roots. Sometimes visible, sometimes not, wayward roots grow around the trunk instead of outward from it. As gir - dling roots expand in diameter, they impinge on the trunk tissue and other roots, causing a restriction of the rate of movement of water and nutrients in the tree. 3. Dig into the past The history of the tree site is important in triage, especially if none of the classic symp - toms are present. It's worthwhile to investi- gate matters of the past related to weather events, the movement, removal or addition of soil, previous site use, and the performance of any former trees that needed to be removed. How does one go about learning the history of the site surrounding a particular tree? The same way you'd fnd out about any other historical element on the course: Ask the people who have worked at the facility the longest, ask other superintendents, and ask neighboring property owners. Look in the fles for reconstruction plans. Visit with industry and manufacturer representatives who may have worked on the course, such as irrigation installers. When in the midst of triage, even small bits of information can be helpful. 4. Inventory the here and now Many current factors can be equally as in - fuential in a tree's condition as the history of the site. The triage process involves moving from the general to the specifc, and, as you do so, you should consider each of the follow - ing categories. Low and high sites. These areas tend to be where soil has been moved, deposited or blown away over time. Low sites can be places where water tends to remain for days; high sites can be drier than other spots on the course. Herbicide applications. Revisit your records for both pre-emergence and post-emergence applications. Correlations are always possible. Consider sublethal and less-than-full-dose treatments as well. Irrigation applications. Most trees need less than half the amount of supplemental water that turf needs. If the tree in question is co- located among mid- to high-input turf, it may be getting too much water, which tends to de - prive roots of oxygen. Trees located in rough or out-of-bounds areas may face the oppo - site predicament. Trunk injuries. Upset golfers and Mother Nature can infict cracks and bark injuries that are diffcult for a tree to recover from. Up-close inspection will normally reveal the evidence of any recent physical damage. Compaction. Just as with turf, compressed soil particles exclude soil oxygen and decrease lateral and vertical movement of roots. These factors have a compounding effect on nutri - ent uptake. Fertilization. Like water need, the re - quirement for fertilizer is also generally less. If trees and turf are fertilized at the same rate, the trees tend to become more herba - ceous than is desirable, and more susceptible to pests. Nutrient defciencies can also be an existing limiting factor, in terms of both micro- and macronutrients. Weather. Weather extremes can be the cause of many maladies for trees on a golf course. Cold winters, hot summers, overly humid conditions and windy stretches of time are some of the most common. Soil type. Soils can affect tree health as much as or more than any other of the other current contributing factors. Compare current soil test results with those from tests taken at the same time in previous years to see whether any levels have risen or fallen. A key difference with woody plants is that when a soil test indi - cates a need for a specifc nutrient, the woody plant usually takes much longer to respond than turf does. The general suggestion is to wait up to a year to determine whether a par - ticular treatment had a positive result. 5. Evaluate known specifics Each tree species has known maladies as - sociated with it, but a frequent mistake made while trying to determine the cause of a de - cline or of the odd appearance of a tree is being overly mindful of the common problems of a tree species. This is a kind of "skip to the end" technique — an attempt to pinpoint the issue by taking the easy way out — and it leads to a greater potential for misdiagnosis. Considering known specifcs is a good step, but it should be done as one of the last steps, not the frst. If you leave the consider - ations of planting, foliar/root disease, foliar/ trunk insects, initial care, mulch placement and depth, site history, root disorders, soil type, weather and present conditions out of the process, you've done the tree a disservice. 6. Consider professional assistance Triage can be a diffcult procedure, one that may occasionally require outside assis - tance. If you're still scratching your head after identifying the tree and working through classic symptoms, history, the here and now, and known specifcs, it's wise to call in a professional who performs triage on a regu - lar basis. Who's the expert for triage? In most cases, an experienced arborist certifed by the Inter - national Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a good choice. As with any group of profession - als, some are better than others, but contact- ing an ISA-certifed arborist is a smart place to start. If the concern is tree stability, seek out an ISA arborist who holds a specialized cer - tifcation called "TRAQ" (Tree Risk Assess- ment Qualifcation). John C. Fech is a horticulturist and ISA-certifed arborist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Beyond your control? In the emergency room, some pa- tients arrive is such rough shape that the doctors and nurses simply can't do anything to save them. Similarly, in triage, some infuences, historical events, old pruning cuts, soil types, previous plant- ing procedures, disease-susceptible cul- tivars, invasive pests and weather events are just too great in their impact on the tree in question. Though this is frustrat- ing and possibly unjustly incriminating ("What? You can't do anything to improve that tree that was buried with 4 feet of soil seven years before you took this job?"), sometimes a superintendent or golf land- scape manager just has to accept it. On the plus side, there are an equal number of issues that can be controlled and management practices that can be implemented. At the top of the list of these are tree placement, routine inspec- tion, proper planting techniques, amount of water applied, avoidance of compac- tion, nutrients applied, chemical and me- chanical injuries, and the separation of turf and ornamentals.

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