Spring Update: Are You Ready For Water Restrictions? February 27, 2015

Spring Update: Are You Ready For Water Restrictions?

By Darin S. Bevard, Senior Agronomist
April 27, 2009

A drier than normal winter in much of the Mid-Atlantic Region may lead to water restrictions this summer.

Rainy weather in the last few weeks may make that statement seem ridiculous, however, according to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), groundwater levels are below normal as we enter the time of the year when groundwater recharge slows dramatically. This condition is a cause for concern, but not a cause for panic. The most important thing to take from this information is to ensure that your golf course drought management plans are up-to-date for your governing authorities. Do not wait until drought restrictions are imposed to find out that you are ill prepared to deal with water restrictions. Be sure that required documentation is current.

Early Season Expectations

The colder than normal temperatures have slowed recovery from spring cultural practices, including core aeration. With the onset of warmer temperatures greens should heal rapidly providing better playing conditions. Without adequate soil temperatures we cannot make the grass grow, and trying to push growth with excess nitrogen applications only leads to a growth surge that impacts green speed in the short term and plant health over the long term. When the weather gets warm enough, the grass will grow.

The colder temperatures also have affected warm-season grass. Travels over the southern portions of the Mid-Atlantic Region provide evidence that bermudagrass is beginning to break dormancy. Temperature is the key, and once uniform growth is experienced programs can be initiated to condition the turf. Again, be patient; the grass will grow when we experience a stretch of warm weather without nighttime frosts.

What impact has the adjustment in daylight savings time had on early season expectations? It is hard to say for sure, but consider that we used to transition to daylight savings time in early April. Now, we make the change in early March. This earlier change seems to encourage golfers to play earlier in the season. Now we have two or three hours of daylight after work to play a leisurely nine holes or, better yet, a quick eighteen. There is a perception that if we have time to play golf then the grass should be ready. Unfortunately, the grass cannot tell time, and the change to daylight savings time does not affect turf growth one bit. All parties involved need to keep in mind that it is still very early in the growing season, and your golf course maintenance staff is still preparing the golf course for the season.

GCSAA Energy Use Survey

NOTE: The GCSAA is conducting an Energy Use and Environmental Practices Survey. The survey can be accessed at . Any questions about the survey should be directed to Mark Johnson, GCSAA's senior manager of environmental programs ( ). This veryimportantsurvey considers the attention paid to energy usage by the golf industry, carbon footprints, etc. Participation by superintendents is critical to ensure that the survey assesses a good cross section of golf courses.

TAS Deadline Quickly Approaching

FINAL NOTE: The May 15 th deadline for early payment for Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visits is rapidly approaching. Be sure to take advantage of the early payment discount to save $500 on your 2009 half-day of full-day TAS visits! Contact us below to make your arrangements.

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team. If you have questions or concerns, give us a call or send an e-mail. Stan Zontek ( ) and Darin Bevard ( ) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( ) at 412/ 341-5922.