Now is the Best Time to Prepare Golf Turf Grass for an Awesome Autumn

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[NOTE: This article first appeared in the September 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

Michael Gardner PortraitIt’s been a long, hot, dry summer but fall is just around the corner. Saturday, September 22nd, to be exact.

I’ve always looked forward to fall. With the cooler temperatures, the leaves will soon change to the magnificent colors of fall. Eventually the leaves will be drifting to the ground and covering our golf courses. It’s a beautiful time of year.

Complete that Last Aerification

With fall quickly approaching, there is work to be done. The warm weather is our last window of opportunity to get certain tasks completed. While the air and soil temperatures are still high, it’s the optimal time to complete one last aerification.

Get Back to Optimal Conditions

One of the most important aspects of aerification to golfers is the recovery time. The quicker we can get optimal pre-aerification playing conditions back on our greens, the quicker we’ll see the benefit of increased play—which will increase the bottom line for the course.

Increase Horizontal Growth

Let me dive a little deeper on how this is could be accomplished. Certain plant hormones that promote cell division and horizontal growth are present in all plants. Two important hormones are cytokinins and auxins. When we increase the levels of these hormones, we increase the horizontal growth of turf grass.

Speed Recovery

Horizontal growth has many benefits. Turfgrass recovers and fills in quickly after aeration or verticutting. Increasing hormone levels also speeds recovery from ball marks caused by day-to-day play. We can take it one step further to our fairways and tee boxes. Better root systems and horizontal growth aids divot recovery.

Do It Naturally

We could pound our turfgrass with synthetic hormones, but Huma Gro® Turf Breakout® can accomplished this process naturally and sustainably. Breakout® stimulates the existing hormones in the plant, giving the plant a little help with what Mother Nature has already supplied.

Pre-program Horizontal Growth

Stimulating the cytokinins and auxins in the plant with early programming is essential for maximum benefit. If turfgrass is pre-programmed with Breakout® a week before aeration or verticutting, the plant will already be in a horizontal growth pattern at the time of aerification or verticutting. The turfgrass will continue pre-programmed horizontal growth without skipping a beat. For optimal results, application of Breakout® needs to be five to seven days before any procedures to the greens. A follow-up application is recommended five days after aerification or verticutting.

Reduce Clippings

Breakout® is not a plant growth regulator. Breakout® does not stop the growth of the plant, but rather re-directs the plant’s energy to lateral growth or movement. This gives the superintendent an advantage by limiting top growth, which in turn reduces the clippings made during mowing. As a result, greens will have a uniformly smooth surface for all to enjoy. The fairways and tee boxes reap the same benefits: fuller turf with fewer clippings.

Get Ready

As fall, moderate weather, and increased play approaches, let’s prepare by improving course conditions. This could be our last window of opportunity.

Preparing the Course for Tournament Play

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[NOTE: This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

The arrival of spring brings a flurry of activities to the golf course. The volume of play increases, as does the volume of work for the superintendent and staff who keep the course in tip-top shape. At the same time, it’s important to take steps to improve turf health at the same rate activity increases. This can be a major challenge. Tee times are reserved earlier each day, putting a time-crunch on the grounds crew to prepare the course for daily play.

In addition, special events throughout the golfing season require the course to be in excellent condition. Club championships, qualifying events, and tournaments bring hundreds of participants and spectators to the course all at the same time.

Getting turf into tournament condition while preparing for scheduled events and increased play takes planning. Superintendents must have a strategy and contingency plan in order to meet the superior course conditions expected by tournament attendees, spectators, and club members. Not only can additional traffic damage turf, but the disruptions and practices a superintendent must engage in to prepare greens for events can be potentially harmful to the turf.

In order to schedule greens to peak during tournaments and special events, a superintendent must carefully plan backwards to perfect application timing, irrigation, and course management. Attaining firm and fast playing conditions without harming turf health is a priority and a challenge. To do so, a golf course superintendent should schedule a complete NPK liquid fertilizer program enhanced with micronutrients and iron every 7–10 days, beginning two to three weeks prior to the date of the event.

Light, frequent hand-watering prior to and during tournament play prevents a wet, soft, and slow green and maintains a firm and healthy green. Brooming the greens is a less-abrasive approach to enhance greens prior to and during tournament without damaging weak spots. Mowing heights can be safely lowered prior to tournament play. A superintendent should double-cut four days prior to special events and roll daily during event play. The least disruptive method of aeration should be scheduled prior to events so the green has time to heal. Greens should be aerated immediately again after events to relieve stress.

To help superintendents achieve and schedule the superior tournament conditions they desire from their course, Huma Gro® Turf has developed a Tournament Preparation Program. By providing soil and turf nutrition, our products build healthy soil and strong, healthy turf. Two to three weeks prior to tournament play, the following Huma Gro® Turf products can be easily mixed together and applied at a volume of 2 to 3 ounces per thousand square feet.

Because turf health starts with healthy soil, Multi-Purpose® builds soil health by feeding beneficial bacteria in the soil, creating a carbon-rich soil and improving the soil structure.

Breakout® provides the necessary nutrients for root growth and root mass development. Encouraging horizontal turf growth, Breakout® creates a dense, uniform and consistent turf for superior ball-rolling characteristics. In the fairways, Breakout® speeds recovery from verticutting, aerating, and ball marks.

Max Pak® is a stress fighter that promotes healthy turf by providing a highly stable source of many important macronutrients to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients.

Turfplex® IV contains macro- and micronutrients with organic acid to increase the absorption of nutrients, producing a vigorous turf. It’s fast acting and long lasting.

Tuff Greens is a blend of potassium, calcium, and silica, designed to strengthen the turf blades to withstand heavy traffic and provide a superior playing surface.

For best results, this turf prep program should be started two to three weeks prior to tournament play. A second application should be applied again one to two weeks before tournament events.

As the event date draws close, and superior turf conditions have been established for tournament play, Turf-Iron should be applied together with an additional application of Tuff Greens two or three days prior to the event. Turf-Iron enhances the turf color to put the finishing touches on course conditions.

Additionally, superintendents can prevent the appearance of ugly white pesticide residue by using safe, effective, and residue-free turf protection products such as Promax® or Proud 3®. Promax® prevents and controls nematodes and soil-borne diseases. Proud 3® is a foliar applied insecticide, miticide, and fungicide.

During this two- to three-week process, our products provide soil and turf nutrition, building a healthy soil structure and pushing turf to beautiful, strong, superior conditions. Overall turf health is increased through balanced nutrition. Optimal playing conditions—faster, firmer, smoother greens—are achieved by managing proper plant growth and turf blade strength. Most importantly, the course is ready for heavy play and tournament events.

Consult your local Huma Gro® Turf representative or turf specialist for specific recommendations. All Huma Gro® Turf products can be mixed together. All Huma Gro® Turf liquid products include Micro Carbon Technology®, a proprietary blend of very small organic molecules that allows more effective absorption of nutrients by plants.

Relieving Golf Course Heat and Heavy Traffic Stresses

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[Note: This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

I just had one of those days on the golf course when you sit back and think, “Wow, what a great day!” I played a fabulous course in Carlsbad, Calif., where the ocean breeze is cool and refreshing and the sun warms your soul.

The course runs through coastal hills and valleys with impressive elevation changes. From the hill tops, you can see the ocean. Down in the valleys are wetlands, streams, and what are called “environmentally sensitive” areas where the foliage is thick and tall. An impressive 7 miles of cart paths weave in and out of canyons. You may drive 2 to 3 minutes through beautiful surroundings to get to the next tee box.

This day reminded me how much I love the beauty of golf. Not necessarily the game itself, but the actual beauty of the game. Standing on the first tee box with a large ravine in front of me, the green grass of the fairway in the distance, and the ocean to my right, I felt life’s stresses fading away.

I often think about the different stresses of life. As a “turf guy,” I’m aware of the stresses affecting golf courses. Just as stress affects our bodies, the different avenues stress takes are no different with turf. Stress from different angles affects turf health and playability.

Golf turf stresses are similar throughout the country. It’s a warm weather activity and local courses get a lot of play. These factors bring stress, not only to the courses, but to the golf course superintendents.

With spring around the corner, and soon the summer heat, it’s important for superintendents to get an early start on soil health and hydration. The summer heat brings drought, hot spots, water repellency, and other issues. Proper soil health ensures water penetration and retention, alleviating and reducing heat stress symptoms, now and in the future. Huma Gro® Turf focuses on long-term soil health to combat the summer heat.

With summer also comes the stress of soil compaction caused by heavy play. This includes all parts of the course: cart paths, walking paths, fairways, tee boxes, and greens. Running hundreds of golf carts each day takes a toll on golf courses. Superintendents take great care in directing traffic to reduce compaction. Proper soil health can help maintain air pockets in the soil and break up compaction.

Other proactive measures to prevent damage caused by summer heat and heavy play include raising mowing heights and using smooth rollers, alternating mowing and rolling and skipping a day when possible; aerating soil using smaller tines; fertilizing in small doses; and monitoring traffic patterns. Water management is essential—a surfactant should be used for quick water penetration and to increase moisture retention during a drought or to treat hot spots. A preventive fungicide is recommended.

Whether stress is created by the environment or the game, Huma Gro® Turf products can help. Programs have been developed that use a range of turf products to combat stress caused by summer heat and heavy play. Huma Gro® Turf products can be another tool for superintendents to use to prevent many stress issues on the course.

Huma Gro® Turf Surf-Max® soil surfactant improves water penetration and movement through the soil and roots. Turfplex® VII is recommended to nourish and correct deficiencies for vigor, vitality, and color; Calcium is applied for strength, growth, and plant health; Sil-K® for stronger blades for heat and wear tolerance; and Multi-Purpose™ for improved air and water exchange in the soil. These products are the Heat Stress Program and can be mixed together.

The Heavy Traffic Program includes Turfplex® IV, a fast-acting, long-lasting nitrogen source for vigorous turf, as well as Sil-K® and Multi-Purpose™, which are also in the Heat Stress Program. These products are recommended for use prior to tournaments and in heavy traffic areas. They strengthen the grass stem to prevent ball marks, fight cleat damage, and give the ball a faster, truer roll.

In addition to preventing heat and heavy traffic stress, Huma Gro® Turf Promax® is a recommended zero re-entry pesticide to cure and protect against nematodes and diseases in the soil. Huma Gro® Turf products can be mixed together.

Huma Gro® Turf provides the tools for stress-free turf. Whether you’re a superintendent enjoying your stress-free turf, a turf guy like me, and/or a golfer, the next time you’re standing at the tee box, look out and enjoy the beauty of nature, take a deep breath, and feel the stress trickle away.

Consult your local Huma Gro® Turf representative or turf specialist for specific recommendations. Huma Gro® Turf products include Micro Carbon Technology®, a proprietary blend of very small organic molecules that allows for more effective absorption of nutrients by plants.

Huma Gro® Turf Special Turf Programs can be found at https://humagroturf.com/special-turf-programs/.