Received a call from my old assistant today. Always good to hear from old friends, his course he believes got Pythium during the last week of stupid hot weather. Pythium can be very bad, it loves high temperatures during the day (over 80) it loves warm temperatures at night (over 70) it loves humidity over 75%. Sound familiar?
Well, if it rains this stuff will track on the tires of the vehicles, it will track on the rollers of the mowers, it will track on the feet of golfers. That means that normal healthy turf will get the disease and may die in let’s say 3 days. So push through 150 golfers, 75 four tired golf cars, add a couple of 100″ fairway rollered mowers, a couple of greens triplexes, utility vehicles, a tee triplex. Well, you get the picture that no blade of grass is safe.
Now dead is dead. There is no miracle cure to recover from dead. When this happened to me when he was my assistant on you guessed it… on 4th of July we shut the water off. Yes! OFF. 90+ degrees and I stop watering. I turned the place to a nice shade of winter wheat ready for harvest brown. Why do such a stupid thing? MONEY! See, to treat for Pythium is about $10,000 every 10 days. So get the grass to go dormant (winter wheat ready for harvest brown) and the Pythium has no host tissue to kill. Brown grass is much better than dead grass! Wait until it cools down (out of the Pythium comfort zone) and turn the water back on…Green grass is back!
So, the fairways areas that did die mid section of 10, 18, half of 14 and 15 we aerified and reseeded in the fall and all fairways were happy grass once again.
Now to today, I believe he may have had a touch of Pythium which he is applying K-phyte to help protect the healthy plants. But most probably he is experiencing the same thing you are seeing on my fairways heat stress problems due to lazy grass.
OK, what the heck is lazy grass? Like any good economist will talk about luxury consumption is not really great in the long run. Having too much is not always a good thing. So if you look back two posts ago I talked about we had 30 of 53 days of rain from May 1st to June 22nd, totaling 10.01″ of liquid precipitation. So with the luxury of water the grass gets lazy and like any good welfare recipient when things get hard you are not prepared for the bad times to survive.
So we have grass that has not needed to produce deep rooting to survive the heat of summer. It sat back sucking in all of the excess water keeping its feet in the shallow end and now doesn’t know how to work to survive. It has no ability to pull the water up from the deep because it didn’t plan ahead for a non-rainy day. So it will turn a nice shade of winter wheat ready for harvest brown. Let’s add a few cart tires that come off the path at about 145° and you get burnt damaged tire tracked winter wheat ready for harvest brown grass that could die or just stay brown for a while.
So not to panic, the weekend is scheduled to cool off, down into the 50’s.
The grass gets a breather, we get time to analyze if it is dead or just winter wheat ready for harvest brown and dormant. If it is dead punch a few holes throw down some seed and go on your merry way. It is still cheaper than $10,000 for the fungicide. My guess there will be a lot more winter wheat ready for harvest brown dormant grass than dead.
So for you Mike, these were taken this morning after we talked…a few of my fairways. In the low wet spots that got boiled with the afternoon showers and 94° temperatures I will punch holes. The rest I expect to be a happy green after the weather cools down with the nights in the 50’s.
You are not the only one and we won’t be the last.
Mark Novotny CGCS