THE HEAT IS ON February 27, 2015


By Stanley J. Zontek, Director
June 13, 2008

Clearly, summer has arrived in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Typically, the Fourth of July weekend is when this type of weather occurs. It is not even the first day of summer (June 20 th ) and heat indexes have been more than 100 degrees for three days in a row. This is the definition for a heat wave.

The temperatures have moderated below the official heat wave status, but consider this a wake-up call for the summer. While it is true that we cannot do very much about the weather stresses our golf courses receive, we can do something about other forms of stress that can have a negative effect on the grass plant. A quick review may be in order.

  • Mower Stress. If the grass is under temperature and humidity stress, MOW LESS OFTEN. Maintain putting green speeds by rolling the turf. Be sure to tell the golfers what you are doing so they can understand that when hot weather comes adjustments to the golf course maintenance and management programs also need to change.
  • Raise Mowing Heights . In addition to mowing less it is amazing how a few thousands of an inch can reduce soil temperatures and generally be good for the grass. Remember, most average players cannot tell the difference between putting on an 11' green, as measured by the Stimpmeter, and a 10' green. Golfers can tell the difference between a green with grass on it and a green without grass. An old adage says, "slow grass is better than no grass."
  • Water Stress. Grass needs to be maintained, especially during hot weather, between the two extremes of dry wilt and wet wilt. If there is an aspect of the turf management industry that is more 'art' and local knowledge than any other operation it is how much to water the golf course in general, individual greens, and even areas on individual greens in particular. Be sure to use your best people to water.
  • Disease and Insect Activity . All things being equal, be a good scout. Look for the first signs of disease and insect activity and then react appropriately. There are two basic rates, especially for fungicides; a preventative rate and curative rate. If you have disease activity, use the curative rate.
  • Keep the Grass Healthy . This entails lots of different things. If you have a fan…turn it on. Is it at the best angle? Are you spoonfeeding the grass? If not, then you should study the research at Rutgers University on weekly spoonfeeding and the effect this has on Anthracnose and keeping grass healthy.
  • Don't Hurt the Grass You Are Trying to Grow by Over Reacting to a Situation . Sometimes, "doing nothing" is better than "doing something." Knee jerk reactions whereby chemicals are dumped onto the grass, tankmixes of everything on the shelves in your chemical storage building, may cause more harm than good. It can also get expensive. WHEN IN DOUBT…ASK SOMEONE. Assistance to turf managers is why the USGA Green Section exists, why there is a university cooperative extensive service, and why there are so many plant diagnostic laboratories. It may even be a good idea to visit a neighboring superintendent and talk with your trusted salesman. They see a lot. No, we all see a lot. Never hesitate to ask a question, make a phone call, send an e-mail or have a grass sample sent to a lab. Remember, the heat is on….

As always, if the Mid-Atlantic regional agronomists can be of assistance, contact Stan Zontek ( ) or Darin Bevard ( ) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( ) at 412/ 341-5922.