Weather Or Not February 27, 2015

Weather Or Not

By Bob Vavrek, Senior Agronomist
October 16, 2009

Our short two weeks of summer weather across the upper Midwest came to an abrupt, chilly end this week.  The snow flurries predicted for this weekend have many superintendents scratching their heads wondering…why did I wait so long to aerate the greens or is it too early to winterize the irrigation system?

Some frost in the air also gets us thinking about our Christmas wish list, after all, the local Walgreens already has the Christmas decorations out right next to the Halloween masks.  If you don’t already have one, a weather station would be a good investment for any golf course.  Just like personal computers, cell phones and other high tech electronics, you can get a much better weather station for much less money now compared to what was available just 10 years ago.  In fact, you can purchase a unit complete with all the bells and whistles capable of measuring ET, leaf wetness, relative humidity, soil temperature, etc. for around $2500 or so.

The availability of accurate, on-site weather data will improve your ability to manage turf more efficiently.  For example, soil temperature data can help fine tune the timing of growth regulator applications for Poa annua seedhead suppression.  On-site ET measurements can be used to adjust and, often, reduce the amount of irrigation applied to the playing surfaces.  ET measurement for your site will always be more accurate than the measurements obtained from the nearest airport or public weather data base.

In addition, weather data will provide an opportunity to use models that predict disease activity.  A model is currently being developed and validated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to predict dollar spot activity based on relative humidity.  Dollar spot is a concern at every golf course in the Region every season.  If a predictive model can eliminate just one fairway fungicide application; the savings will practically pay for a weather station.

Another temperature-based model is being developed to determine the optimal intervals for Primo applications throughout the summer.  Using the model can help prevent the undesirable surge of turf growth that commonly occurs during hot weather when Primo is rapidly metabolized in the plant and loses its effect between treatments.  It never hurts to avoid those complaints that occur when a surge of growth causes green speed to plummet just before or during a special course event.

So when the time comes to sit on Santa’s lap, be sure to ask for a weather station instead of a Red Ryder BB gun, besides, you’ll just shoot your eye out.

Source: Bob Vavrek, or 262-797-8743