It is finally here! The beginning of summer officially starts today! Wait a second…?!?! Summer is just starting today? It certainly seems like we have unusually warm weather for the Summer season to have just started today!
Summer is certainly a great season for many reasons. Activities like hiking, camping, golfing, swimming, fishing, and barbeques are all great examples of what one may think about when summer is mentioned. However, just because summer is fun for some, doesn’t necessarily mean that is fun for others. Turf in the northeast does not enjoy summer so much. The northeast, as discussed in previous posts, is populated by cool-season grass varieties. These cool-season varieties can sometimes struggle in the hot summer heat. In the science world, this is referred to as wilt. Wilt can occur for a number of reasons, but some of the main reasons include lack of water, increased traffic, poor soil quality, or insufficient nutrient. Now the solution may sound simple, but that is only if adequate tools are available.
The number one reason mentioned was lack of water. The irrigation here at Stow Acres is what we refer to as single row irrigation. This means that the heads cover the greens, tees, and right down the middle of the fairways. While this may sound sufficient, the coverage is only about half of what is needed. Greens and tees usually receive adequate water, but sometimes the fairways and rough can suffer. In times of heat stress, the plant will go dormant to stay alive. Its stomata begin to close and the plant undergoes a multitude of colors. First, it turns a bluish, purple. Then, it turns a dark blue or black color. When it finally reaches its breaking point, it turns a tan color. Some may see this as death, but some grass varieties can survive through this stage. If they do, when the water and cooler temperatures are available, the plant will begin to turn green again.
We work vigorously at trying to supply every playable square inch with enough water in times of heat stress, but sometimes it just is not enough. It is inevitable, some parts of our rough, fairways, and bunker banks may go dormant and turn off-color. They will wait for temperatures to cool off and moisture to return to the soil before they spring back to life. Keep in mind that for green, lush turf everywhere, Fall is just around the corner! See you on the course!
-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent