Beating Summer Turf Stress

turfgrass management

Beating Summer Turf Stress

turfgrass management

Summer weather can be an enormous challenge to your golf course maintenance. The stress on your turf can be brutal- here are some cultural and mechanical tips that can help you survive the summer heat and thrive throughout the year. Conditions can be brutal due to the high heat and humidity we often see. Excessive stress can cause turf decline that can affect playing conditions. Being proactive with your actions can help minimize stress and maximize play.

There are all sorts of weapons you can use in the fight against the elements- irrigation and mowing programs have improved with venting fertilizers and topdressings to apply. Also, there are newer strategies such as mower technologies, rollers, fans, moisture sensors and high-tech aeration and moisture removal systems.

Water Management

Watering is the biggest issue to face in green maintenance. Hand watering is often recommended as a supplement to the irrigation system or to cater to the needs of each and every area, since they can vary. Moisture sensors are useful, but a handheld moisture meter is preferred as this way you can get a reading and then spot treat accordingly.

The goal is to keep the green as dry as possible but not let them wilt. Avoiding wet — or even worse, saturated conditions in the upper portion of the rootzone improves turf performance during heat stress.

Watch the Air Flow

A boundary layer is a layer of humid and stagnant air that is created when water vapor leaves the turf surface and surrounds the area. Turf fans, which generate turbulent air movement, help circulate and balance these surroundings, cool the surface and allow the plant to transpire properly.

The most consistent method of combating the heat and humidity is constant air flow across the turf canopy’s surface. Since a constant natural wind is not reliable or predictable, the use of electric fans has become an essential tool.

The Turf’s Surface

There are many benefits to finding the right schedule of rolling greens and mowing. These benefits can include reduced turf stress, disease suppression and a smoother surface which ultimately translates into a healthier turf with increased green speeds.

The decision to roll or not should be made by sight and feel, the temperature and intensity and how the greens appear. Mowing doesn’t need to happen every day- sometimes it’s better to just roll and not cut or injure the plant.

Mechanic Skill

No matter what your opinion on the balance of mowing and rolling, having a skilled mechanic can make all the difference. Maintaining extremely sharp blades can have a huge impact- even being off by a thousandth of an inch can be detrimental to the turf. Things need to be tested and kept in optimal conditions.


Oxygen is certainly crucial to plant health and venting can help with this. Different types of venting varying the length and width of the times, should be used depending on the situation.

Quality Management

Even with all of these strategies, you will still need to deal with a thunderstorm rolling in and the weather going right back to sun and 90+. Your turf is now drenched and the humidity is high, which damages the root systems. This is where you see the value of a smart superintendent who is experienced and can make decisions every time the conditions change. He can balance keeping your turf healthy and your golfers happy.

Soil & Water Consulting can help you make more resilient turf

To help ensure your turf lives a long and happy life, you need more than just reactionary care. You need proactive growth monitoring and management of your levels, moisture, and general health. Soil & Water Consulting can assess your course conditions, conduct testing with the assistance of Brookside Labs, and prescribe the ideal treatment for your soils, waters, and sands.

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