Friday, 4 August 2017

Don't knock it till you try it (or don't try it). Afternoon watering.

Some might call this overwatered, but the VMC is right where we want it and the greens are nice and firm. Watered by hand each morning during the heat.

This week I quoted a tweet by the USGA and started a shit storm on twitter.

I love it when people get riled up about grass!

The reasons I asked the question "is there a good reasons why sprinklers are running during your round" was that for the longest time I thought I needed to water in the afternoon to cool down the grass or to keep it alive to live another day.

It turns out that this wasn't the case for me but it was taught in school that afternoon watering was an essential practice to provide good golf course playing surfaces.

The article I posted was actually really good and took a good balanced approach at promoting what we do is not necessarily bad and outlining the very good reasons why you might see sprinklers running during the day on a golf course. Hell even I have to do it sometimes when things break!

It has been proven again and again that afternoon watering does little to cool the plant so if you are doing it, it is to replenish water in the soil to avoid some pretty specific issues that some courses might face. Thankfully, my course isn't one where we need to water during the day unless a pipe breaks overnight.
It was pointed out to me over and over and over and over again that just because I don't need to water during the day that others might not have that luxury. I totally get that, it's pretty obvious. What is true on my first green isn't even true on my second! Everything is highly location dependant in our industry. There is nothing universal in our industry. What concerns me is that I bet a lot of people who currently water during the day, could probably get by without it.

For the longest time I thought it was needed on my course and I would water every afternoon on a hot day. That was back before I really had any idea of what I was doing. That last sentence is kind of paradoxical as the more I learn, the less I feel I know. Hmmmm

Then it was pointed out to me that maybe daytime watering wasn't necessary.

So what did I do?

I immediately sent Micah an angry email telling him how wrong he was.

Actually, no that is not what I did.

I tried it out to see for myself. And guess what, he was right (as usual). It turns out that on my property and in my climate with my type of grass (almost 100% poa at the time) I didn't need to water at all during the day. If we had enough water in the soil we didn't need to add more no matter what time of the day it was. Boy did this save me a lot of time.

It also reduced the amount of disease on my greens (and need for corrective fungicides). There's nothing better than warm and constantly wet for turf disease production from what I've seen. It puzzles me when we work so hard to remove the dew in the mornings in an attempt to dry things out and then go and purposely make the grass wet again. Either way I kind of think the whole drying grass out practice isn't worth it either so who knows?

Don't knock it until you don't try it.

I try to take this approach to everything. I've tried preventative fungicide applications, I've tried designer fertilizer programs, I've tried deep and infrequent watering (I can't make it work on my soils with my irrigation system), I've tried every stupid practice and gimmick there is to try. Hell I even tried compost tea once 😄 I will try anything once and will make observations and decide if it's right for my situation.

What I caution those who were so against my questioning of daytime watering is to know if they tried not watering in the day or not. Don't try it for me. Try it (and anything you read about) for you and see if you can adapt it to your specific circumstances to make improvements.

Smoke from wildfires dampen the record breaking high temperatures to only 105F.
I'm sure those who were adamantly against no water in the day had tried it for themselves. It's a pretty easy thing to test afterall. Simply don't do it for a day and if the grass suffers more than usual, go back to the way your were doing it before. If nothing bad happens, try it again, and continue this process until one day, 5 years later you haven't watered in the afternoon even once despite 2 record heatwaves and droughts.

I know that there are plenty of circumstances that require daytime watering as was outlined in the USGA article. Please don't hate me for suggesting that it might not be needed, because guess what? It might not be for everyone....maybe even you 😊

There I go again....Look at what I can do with all the time I save not irrigating during the day!