Well, challenge it continues to do!
As we move through the early and mid-part of June following the dry, cool spell of April and May our rainfall total for June as I write this is approaching 60mm, 2.5 inches, meaning that we have hit our monthly average total already with no respite on the horizon to the continual system of rain and showers moving across the country over the coming week.
Predominately it is steady, useful rain that is being absorbed into the ground quite effectively and helping to develop a sound supply of ground water. Although on occasion we have been subject to some intense downpours that are merely running off down the hill and into the nearest stream. Let’s hope that this spell of rainfall knocks on some benefit for later in the year when we will need some soil moisture.
Generally, temperatures are staying quite mild overnight with only occasional instances of minimums dipping below 5 celcius. Maintaining mild overnight temperatures is helping to move growth on which has been sadly lacking this year. There are still areas that have been repaired and renovated from last summer’s scorch that are only now starting to fill in despite assertive action to them.
As I was walking Eddie up along the Wansdyke a couple of weeks ago it was really apparent how slow the year has been so far, the hawthorns were in full flower and it occurred to me that this is the first year in certainly ten but maybe more that the “May flower” was actually flowering in May rather than April.
We are now moving away from the seedhead phase for Poa annua that plagues May with seeding in decline and leaf growth picking up across all heights of Poa. Height of cut remains at 4mm and keeping on top of brush cutting we are seeing good density in the grass sward to aid ball roll.
There are small patches of localised dry spot on a few of the exposed greens. The patches are areas of soil that repel water and hence do not absorb either irrigation or rainfall readily and remain dry. The repellency is a result of a waxy residue left on soil particles by previous fungal activity with the soil. Managing these spots is difficult because they are so very localised and generally bordered by soil that is sufficient in water.
Increasing irrigation across the entire green will not remedy the problem; it will simply over-irrigate areas adjacent to the patches. What we are doing to address these problems, which are a very long term occurrence that does evolve, is two-pronged. The first is a systemic approach where the products that we are using alongside our fertilisers are effectively living, liquid composts. These composts are encouraging soil biology that over time will consume the waxy coating and therefore reduce the effect.
The second technique is the use of a regular wetting agent type product that helps to break the surface tension of water falling to the green surface. Using a wetting agent will help water penetrate these dry areas by preventing the water beading on the surface and not running into the soil. Regular, light aeration will also contribute to increased infiltration as pictured below showing micro slitting post-mowing.
It is small procedures like this that aid water infiltration to the soil and over time will reduce the incidence of dry patch rather than simply increasing irrigation which will create separate problems.
As I outlined last month the ryegrass seedheads are now starting to pop up, rearing their ugly heads maybe…Managing these seed stalks requires double mowing with a rotary rough mower before running the usual cylinder mower over them or hand pulling the stems, either way a double dose of maintenance.
The great thing is that the season for ryegrass seeding is much shorter than for Poa and within a couple of weeks it will be gone. Fairways and tees are both receiving their full season fertility which included light fertiliser input plus this year a regular application of liquid seaweed which will contribute to increased root development and overall plant health particularly through periods of stress, such as all of 2018 really.
A final word on golf course etiquette which I feel needs to be mentioned. Particularly through periods of rainfall, putting green surfaces do become softer because moisture content increases. The result of this is that pitch marks from golf balls are more severe.
Our members and playing visitors need to be putting in the effort to find and repair any ball mark that their shot has left on the greens surface both as a part of their responsibility to fellow golfers and to the greenkeeping team that maintain and care for our greens on a daily basis.
Pitch marks ruin putts; the onus is on you to do the right thing by your greens and your fellow players.
Thanks for reading