STRI agronomist Stella Rixon provides a topical update on managing springtime turf growth.
- Disease pressure in late summer and autumn 2016 was high with many courses suffering from athracnose and/or microdochium patch. Both of which proved difficult to control and many sites have been left with disease scars
- Spring 2017 has been unseasonably dry, but soil based greens do not dry out very readily and the majority I have tested in the past two weeks still have sufficient moisture levels for growth (>15% vwc (volumetric water content)). The only drought stressed areas noted have been areas affected by tree root invasion
- It is not generally lack of moisture, but cold night time temperatures that are putting a brake on growth and recovery of disease scars currently. Overseeding may not show significant germination and establishment either for the same reason. For a more in-depth detail of growth rates in different parts of the country, see Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog.
- Ultimately, we cannot force growth until night time temperatures come up consistently. Therefore, patience and member communication is key
- Avoid putting on any heavy dose of granular fertiliser once temperatures do increase, as this will potentially give excess growth and poor smoothness and speed as a result
- Instead, apply light liquid / soluble feeds if night time temperatures are at 5°C or above to gently encourage growth and recovery
- Check moisture levels with an accurate moisture meter. Apply a small amount of irrigation if moisture levels are below ~15-20 vwc (as measured by Delta T meter) in the upper 60mm of the profile; spot treat via hand-watering but otherwise hold off irrigating as it will slow the warming up process
- Topdress little and often to keep surfaces smooth and keep scarred areas perfectly level so that they do not impact ball roll. Remember a surface does not have to look good to play well!
- If feasible, plug out any large disease scars that are in proximity of key pin positions. Perhaps a working party could assist by repairing smaller disease scars as you would a pitchmark