Friday, July 22, 2011

When The Stars Align...

Or in this case; When the temperature, humidity, and dew point align we get one heck of a disease outbreak.

( Brown Patch #11 Fairway - 2011_07_22 )
( Pythium #11 Fairway - 2011_07_22 )

This last week has taught us some new things and reiterated some of the lessons we have picked up along the way. From the 3" of rain we got leading into the weekend to the 5 days of record dew points and high temps. The factors leading to a severe disease outbreak aligned and bam! there it was. I am showing you pictures of an untreated par 3 fairway so you get an idea of what the worst of our disease issues look like now that things are in remission because of the weather change.

Due to the costs involved for preventively spraying fairways for pythium we take a more treat-it-when-you-get-it approach. And when we do spray we try and balance disease control with cost as much as possible. It can cost as much as $10,000+ to treat all 24 acres of fairways just once for Pythium with a good control type chemical, and perhaps only a few thousand for a more knockdown with less control type of one. This past week we had to make that very decision of which one to use. Over the weekend we knew the conditions were perfect for a disease outbreak, and for the most part we had things protected which is why we did not see much of a problem come Monday. By the time we headed home at the end of the day on Monday we were still looking disease free. When we got to the club on Tuesday morning it was a whole different story, fairways and tees did not cope well with 4 days of intense disease pressure... The driving range tee was a sea of fungal mycelium (a cotton like growth that is an active sign of certain diseases, Pythium in this case). The fairways were much similar, though the active Pythium was isolated to low wet areas and not quite so rampant as the Brown Patch that was working 'kinda all over'. Our tees also had signs of active disease and needed treatment. We proceeded to treat the entire golf course and get the disease in check to limit the amount of damage that would take place. While Brown Patch does not necessarily kill massive amounts of turf like Pythium will, it can definitely do some damage.  Since it looked as though the favorable conditions would break in the next day or so we decided to go with the less expensive chemical option and be sure to maintain vigilant scouting for the days to come.

Is it over and behind us? All I can say is we made it through the first onslaught and kept most turf in decent shape. There are some larger patches of fairway that Pythium did kill, we are seeding and topdressing those areas to encourage quick recovery. Some more problematic areas will get aerified, seeded, and topdressed within the next week. So why did I leave #11 fairway untreated? I often leave untreated fairway turf, usually a par 3 like #11 or #4, as a barometer of what diseases are active and when. And it happened that we ran out of chemical with only #11 fairway left to spray, so we will use it as a check and also experiment with a couple of seeding methods to determine what might work best for when this happens again. Because I know it will happen again, hopefully much later then sooner.