It seems like every blog I do is moaning about the weather, this one will be no different!! we have gone from 9 months of the grass plant being under saturation stress, straight into a prolonged bout of drought/ heat stress.
We have spent a lot of the past 5-6 weeks watering the greens, mainly by hand held hose pipe. Our irrigation system is over 25 years old and is past its best. It does a job, but to get the best results from it we are best to use the hose pipe as there are some ares of the greens that need water more than others.
Thankfully the new approach we have taken regarding the fertilizer and soil conditioner input to the greens has worked in that the root depth has increased by at least 50mm,
Rooting was a real issue last season, we have gone with a more organic approach this time and the results are clear to see. The deeper the roots the stronger the plant.
We are happy with how the greens have performed under these drought conditions with the exception of late May/ early June. The problems came for us on the 26-28th of May, obviously no rain with a combination of 24-26 deg temps, with wind speeds of double what we had been getting.
The caused the plant to loose moisture through evapotranspiration, over 5mm a day for the 3 days, we need to put at least 50% of that back through irrigation, with our system that is hard, adding into the wind affecting the sprinklers it was impossible.
Not the greatest photo, the top is this May’s evapotranspiration(ET) rates (6mm top), bottom graph is May 2017 ET.
Graham and I decided early season not to put on a wetting agent. Wetting agents are used to release surface tension, so that every drop of water that falls will be able to get into the soil, this helps prevent dry patch which we are suffering from on a few greens. Wetting agents are quite expensive and given that we are never far away from rain we decided against applying one. You know the rest, we had 14mm in May and only 6 days of rain this month. We will not make the same mistake again, 1 is going down next March!!!
This week we have had STRI we has given us some very interesting results considering we thought the greens were struggling slightly. Arguably 2016 was the best season for the greens in a long time, the results we got from smoothness and trueness were similar (smooth) and better (true)
Due to the drought stress the greens have been under all May we haven’t been able to do much work on them to improve the putting surface. We have only verti-cut once followed by top dressing.
Following on from the success in getting deeper roots, we have also reduced the amount of organic matter in the top 0-60mm, which is brilliant. Emma said we are one of a few clubs to reduce OM, with most clubs going up.
We are hearing that the greens are very receptive, which is great considering the sun baking them. So its great to see that firmness is above target range, but the greens are accepting a good shot.
The only disappointing result was speed, considering the firmness it would be hoped to be more. Although we haven’t worked on speed with them, we have just been keeping them alive!! The speed will come when we improve the smoothness and trueness and also do a few passes with the verti-cuts
I feel the greens are in a decent place at current with a good response to the last feed we applied. Although temps are set to increase towards the weekend, we have everything in place to cope with the heat. We are able to do work on them this week, roll 3 times and verti-cut Thurs.
We have had numerous complaints about the bunkers on 11th. The sand in these bunkers is not ideal, although it did pass the criteria set by BetterBilyBunker. We have removed 75% of this sand and replaced it with our usual bunker sand. We will monitor this to see if we get better results.
Please continue to repair pitchmark, and taking bags of divot mix from the tree on the 1st. Also please use the divot boxes on the par 3’s. Unfortunatly we are seeing alot of golfers taking their trolleys between the greens and bunkers. Please follow the white signs infront of the greens and take trolleys around the bunkers and not on the surrounds. Thanks.
Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.
We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.
We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.
Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)