Wednesday, March 28, 2012
by Jerry Husemann
Air and soil temps warmer than usual due to abnormal winter, no snow cover
The last several days we have experienced day-time temps in the high 80s and night-time temps in the 60s. We are coming off of a very mild wimpy winter with limited snow cover across pretty much all of the upper half of the United States. This bare ground is heating up the atmosphere earlier and more aggressively than in years past for the beginning of the spring season. The Forsythia are in full bloom which is a good indicator for beginning pre-emergent herbicide programs.
Early this week, I was in Western Michigan at The Egypt Valley Country Club spending time with Director of Golf Course Operations, Jeff Holmes, CGCS. At 3:30 p.m., we put a soil thermometer in a USGA Sand Green at a 2” depth. The temperature was 75 degrees and in the fairways, the temperature was 65 degrees. Near the Lake in Cleveland, Ohio the temps on USGA Sand Greens was at 65 degrees and at 59 degrees in the fairways.
Golf course managers prepare turfgrass for early-season play
Bottom line, this spring a lot of the golf course maintenance tasks have been condensed into a tight window. I.E. PGR applications, pre-emergent herbicide applications, post-emergent grass/broadleaf herbicide applications, early preventive dollar spot applications, preventive summer stress disease applications, fertility & agronomic applications, getting the irrigation systems ready to go, mowing greens/fairways/roughs/naturalized areas, spring aerification where needed. In most cases, the golf course seasonal maintenance crew is not scheduled to return until April.
The cash register is ringing; many courses have had 1,800-2,000 rounds of golf in March that is unheard of. Northern Michigan golf courses are planning on opening in mid-April instead of mid-May.
The spring season is starting up approximately 30 days ahead of historical patterns. The start of the 2012 season is very positive — the people that make adjustments based on the 2012 spring season, will be ahead of the game. People that remain creatures of habit and continue their approach based on historical calendar dates may struggle later in the season.