Greens, Rye Grass Control (Medium Disturbance)
After an extremely cold April with very little growth and ground temperatures struggling to reach 10c, May brought a turn around in the weather and ground temperatures finally increased becoming ideal for growth.
Rye grass content within the sward had increased over the winter and was starting to cause disturbance to the ball roll. Two weeks ago we used a product called Rescue which is a selective grass weed herbicide for the removal of Ryegrass. The product was used on the Greens, Collars and approaches. This can now be seen as brown patches on the greens whilst leaving the fine turf grasses untouched.
The greens will now be scarified to remove the dead Rye grass and over-seeding will take place to fill the gaps were the Rye grass has been removed.
Our goal with the greens is to increase the fescue content whilst removing the Poa annua, which is another problem grass type seen on our course. Over the last 4 years we have been starving out the Poa annua by decreasing fertiliser inputs and controlling moisture levels to optimise the environment for Fescue to establish. Poa annua is a weed grass and has become wide spread through over watering and over fertilising.
One of the most important soil tests we do is for the organic matter content which is basically dead grass. Having the right amount of organic matter determines how good a ball will hit the surface, hold and roll out. Too much organic matter is also a clear sign of over watering and over fertilising, where the green’s soil environment will then retain more water than necessary and will be prone to flooding. More importantly this is not the ideal environment for growing the fine turf species such as fescue and the Poa and weed grasses are able to take hold.
Below is a graph highlighting the progress we have made in the reduction of the organic matter content over the last 4 years. It shows a steep drop in organic matter in the top profile in the first 12 months from 2012 to 2013, a steady decline over 2014 taking us into the target range set by STRI. In Feb of this year you can see that we have improved even more on the target range and we are now within a range that some of the top Links clubs in the UK are aiming for. Now that the environment is set for fine grasses, over-seeding is the only way to increase the finer premium golf grass content. The club took steps to help achieve this last year by invested in new seeding equipment and we have already seen massive improvements in the amount of germination, speed and minimum disturbance left to the surfaces.
The transition back to fine grasses is not an easy one as grasses may look unsightly as they are stressed from the lack of moisture and feed. But long term it requires less maintenance, fertiliser and water which all cost money. Our ultimate aim is to create a consistent , smooth and true surface.