Temperatures in the Midwest are finally cooling down. This week has been a godsend as I heard from a superintendent this afternoon. Yes temperatures are going to rise again this weekend, but the nighttime temperatures are supposed to remain below 70 degrees. I agree with John that this is the time to start overseeding, fertilizing and maybe even aerifying to bring the greens back to life before winter. However, I do not think this is the time to start bringing the mowing heights back down and starting on paclobutrazol programs. I tend to be very conservative and I think this week is an ideal time to allow the plant to grow under the least stress possible.
This week’s cooler, dry weather has shut down most of the diseases we have dealt with this summer. I don't know this for certain for every location in the Midwest, but I do know that my phone was very quiet the last few days. We still are getting samples of Poa annua crapping out either from heat stress or summer patch or a combination of both. This was an exceptionally difficult summer for golf course superintendents. Most the turf loss this year was due to heavy rains in June and July coupled with high day and nighttime temperatures. Soil temperatures in many locations I visited exceeded 95F, which is not a good growing environment for any cool-season grass to say the least.
The major lesson I learned this summer was the importance of establishing a written set of maintenance and playability standards. By putting categories like day-to-day green speed, firm, fast or green, lush gives the golf course superintendent a lot of flexibility. For example, a hypothetical course has established a maintenance standard of 9 foot green speeds every day. By simply stating this standard allows the golf course superintendent to vary practices to achieve this ball speed. Viable options would be alternating mowing and rolling, switching to smooth rollers, and raising the mowing height in an attempt to minimize turf loss. I do understand that setting maintenance standards may not work for each situation, but it may be something to try especially at a public play facility. You may think I am crazy for talking about this, but based on my observations this summer establishing a set of maintenance standards seemed to work.
This is also the time to start thinking about snow mold applications. Here is a link for our snow mold trials for 2009-2010. The key with these reports is to look at the treatments that provided the best control (lowest disease severity) at the site closest to your site. We test a wide variety of chemicals and combinations at five locations in order to provide golf course superintendents with a plethora of options. We do not distill the reports down to the top ten best products because the best products and combinations may not be within the budget of many golf courses. So we always recommend finding the product or products that provide the best control and fit within the constraints of your budget.
Timing of snow mold fungicides was a fairly hot issue early this spring, largely due to some perceived failures of very good snow mold fungicides. We still do not have a great answer, so are initiating a fairly large fungicide timing experiment this fall. We expect to see good control from systemic products when they are applied well before snow cover, and good control from contacts closer to snow cover. We will let you know next spring, so stay tuned.