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Futureproofing Your Green

Futureproofing Your Green

13th February 2019

2018 has proved to be one of the most difficult years for the Greens-keeper in living memory. With testing conditions going from floods to drought in a matter of a few weeks making management of greens almost impossible.

During the summer, greens have become stressed, “browned off”, plants have become dormant in some cases died off completely all of which combine to provide some of the most difficult conditions for players.

Experts tell us that due to “Global Warming”, climatic changes these conditions are likely to become the norm, do we accept the inevitable or can we do something about it?

Before the shouts of blasphemy and calls for burning at the stake. Consider a change from traditional greens mixtures of Fescues and bents mixtures to a mixture containing Ryegrass or 100% Ryegrass mixtures. I hear the comments that Ryegrass’s are for animal feeds, historically this is very true, rapid erect growth, broad leaf and high crowning have not been conducive to fine turf management. However, recent developments in Ryegrass breeding have resulted in Dwarf and Creeping varieties of Ryegrass that exhibit fine leaf structure lower crowning allowing for cutting heights as low as 4mm without damaging the plant. Modern fine turf Ryegrass varieties exhibit better drought tolerance, resistance to disease and quicker regeneration and establishment from seed than traditional grass varieties. With timing from seeding to first cut as low as 9 days, their ability to establish and out compete weed species make them an ideal choice, without noticeably increasing cutting frequency.

This year has defiantly focused fine turf professionals’ thoughts about the use of Ryegrass’s on fine-turf greens, many Golf greenskeepers are making the move to Ryegrass inclusive or 100% Ryegrass mixes.

Winter Waterlogging

Its difficult to manage rainfall, incessant days of heavy rain are difficult to avoid! We cannot stop it raining, but we can help to dissipate the surface water. The obvious thing is to ensure that drainage is working as effective as possible to remove surface wet patches and avoid damaging the grass plants. However, what can we do if our drainage is working correctly and we still have wet patches or waterlogging of the green?

Consider using a “wetting agent”. Wetting agent can be a miss-used term as it covers a variety of products with differing characteristics. What we should be looking for is a “penetrant” to assist water transposition through the soil profile.

Summer Drought

2018 hopefully can only be described as exceptional! It is not unusual to have dry periods during the growing season; do you have adequate water supply to satisfy the plant’s needs? In most cases for the smaller clubs the answer is no. Where irrigation is applied it is often too little and due to restriction caused by pressure from the players or lack of voluntary staff the wrong time of day. Paying for water from the mains or even in the event of a hose pipe ban can also be factors that influence the ability to irrigate greens. We often hear of water being applied at 10 or 20 minutes a day, sometimes in the hottest time of the day so we play is not interrupted. The efficacy can be described as marginally beneficial or if not detrimental when applied in hot sunny conditions which can result in scorching the plant. In severe drought conditions a far better use of limited water resources would be to drench the greens once or week or as necessary, this will ensure that the water penetrates the ground and is not lost through evaporation.

To drench the green would require up to 25mm of water per application, this equals 25 litres per square meter, or 25,000 litres per (5500 gallons) per 1000 square meters.

The obvious observation would be that most clubs do not have the capital or mechanical resources to achieve this.

Is it time to think about putting contingencies into place to counteract drought conditions?

Can you collect water?

Do you know how much free water you are wasting?

Free water! Where can you get it?

It comes from the sky as rain; for every 25mm of rain falling on 1000 square meters of roof surface can yield up to 8,972 litres of water. By collecting water from roof tops and storing it until required it is possible to save costs and preserve greens quality.

If we use a “wetting agent” such as Ultraflo Advance® to preserve the water in the soil profile making it more readily available to the plants roots we can further reduce our irrigation requirements by a further 30%, saving money and maintaining greens quality.

It is never too late to change, speak to your local Vitax stockist or to your Vitax Amenity Area Manager for help and advice on grass seed and wetting agents.

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