Greens and Grounds Update: Prepping for the Spring/Summer
With the end of January upon us, I would like to remind everyone that we will soon begin the necessary process of bringing down mowing heights for transition purposes. Unfortunately this step is absolutely necessary for a successful summer transition. As the winter months come to an end the Bermuda grass underneath the winter rye grass will begin looking for sunlight to begin it’s process of coming out of dormancy. If the Bermuda grass does not find adequate sunlight in the months of February and March it will die. This means when the rye grass begins checking out in April and May there will be nothing but dirt where Bermuda grass once prevailed.
There is no seamless process when we convert the golf courses from one species of grass to another. Summer transition is merely the opposite of over seeding. During overseeding we go from summer to winter grass. We are now converting back from winter to summer grass. Unfortunately the summer transition process takes much longer than overseeding.
I have been asked by many why we can’t have thicker and taller fairways in the spring like they do back home. The best answer I can give is because back home the golf courses only grow one grass. It’s usually a fescue or bent grass that prevails from March to October. After October the golf courses shut down for the winter and that is that. In southern Arizona we grow two grasses on the same field at the same time and we do not shut down for snow or long periods of time. This forces us to do a balancing act that they don’t do back home. If we do not bring down the mowing heights now the consequences will be dire.
Once temperatures begin warming up in early May the next step will be to spray the winter rye grass with a herbicide to eliminate the rye grass. By this time the Bermuda grass will be out of dormancy and begin growing aggressively. We will aid this process with extra water and fertilizer and with a little luck the monsoon will arrive in a timely manner and assist us with the process.
As I stated before I completely understand that lowering the mowing heights is not a popular idea. But in the end it is what is best for the health of the golf courses. I have attached last year’s USGA agronomical report which explains the entire transition process in detail.