Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Little Mossy Green that Could

Full afternoon sun for my moss green. Yikes!
So way back in the spring when I started my little moss experiment I had no idea how useful it would be to my every day maintenance on the course. It has become an essential tool for me.

The moss study is ongoing but lately I have been using the study green to make decisions on rolling frequency on my putting greens. I feel that rolling is a very important tool for managing turfgrass pests on golf courses such as dollar spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa) and Fusarium patch (microdochium nivale). Rolling isn't just a tool to make your greens smooth any more.

Rolled 8x daily..ummmm no thanks
Rolling has many benefits that we are just now starting to realize but it's not perfect. Like any turf management practice there is a balance that needs to be achieved to get the best results. I use the study green to see what rolling frequency is getting me the best results. Rolling too much at certain times of the season can cause thinning and even a Poa Toupee. Not rolling enough can increase the incidence of certain fungal diseases. The results are constantly  changing week to week due to an large number of variables. The test green allows me to make an easy decision. I can observe turf quality, density and disease pressure to find the optimal rolling frequency on a daily basis. I can find the plot that has exactly what I am looking for and apply that management practice to the rest of the course.
Rolled 2x daily. In this heat this is unacceptable thinning.

My little green has 6 different daily rolling frequencies ranging from 0-8x daily. So far I can say that anything over 3x daily is pushing it. Turf quality has been consistently below acceptable levels so I wouldn't waste your time rolling more than 3x daily on any test plots. Typically I see the best results from the 1x and 2x daily rolling. 3x daily rolling only seem beneficial when temperatures are cool, growth rates are high, and fusarium patch activity is also high.

I think that this kind of test green is an overlooked part of most golf courses these days. Have a small area to compare different cultural practices is a fantastic tool for turf managers to optimize their playing surfaces. In the future I will always have a similar area where I can compare my daily management practices to see what will give me the best product.

Rolled 1x daily. Not bad for being
grown in full shade.
The putting green will be an important tool going into fall and winter. Until recently I didn't know of any cultural practice that I could do in winter time that would have an effect on fusarium patch. I have no control over how much it rains or the moisture levels on my greens so I had no real way of managing this disease. With my recent discovery which suggested that lightweight rolling could have some effect on fusarium patch I am cautiously optimistic going into the fusarium season. Until I know exactly how rolling is suppressing the fusarium I will have a hard time managing this disease with rolling alone. I have a hunch that the fusarium is being suppressed in the same way that dollar spot is suppressed by lightweight rolling. So far research shows that it could be due to an increased microbial population in the soil that is suppressing dollar spot. If this is true then I might have a hard time controlling dollar spot in the winter due to decreased soil microbe activity due to the colder temperatures. Fusarium activity in the winter is also slower so maybe there will be an equilibrium that can be reached. Either way I will have to rely on my small putting green to tell me what the optimal rolling frequency is.