A Slow Spring: We Need 25%, Cool & Wet Continues, plus Is Moss a Weed?
It’s been a week filled with rain and the associated cloud cover. It’s the slow, dreary, constant kind that we are now seeing. Did I say, Constant? It won’t stop. We’re all wet. When it rains it pours. But it’s not all bad. For example, just today I heard a friend say “April showers bring May flowers.” and at that, I laughed and smiled. It’s just rain.
Roots. However, from an agronomic perspective, one aspect we now all begin to see clearly is the D-word. That’s right, drainage. All the infrastructure (tile lines that accept water) and other investments (aerification that reduce compaction) below-ground sooner or later pay dividends. That’s right now and we are just in early spring, 2022. It’s all about the roots. Roots are alive. Roots are respiring. Respiration is “a process in living organisms involving the production of energy, typically with the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide from the oxidation complex organic substances”.
25% Air. In the soil a percentage of the pore space must be filled with gases or air. Normal/healthy loam soil is about 45% mineral, 5% organic, 25% water and 25% air (Fry and Huang, 2004). That means things like oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are necessary for aerobic life. The alternative? Anaerobic which is not good for turfgrass (roots) and the many other things which make our soils alive (nematodes). Arguably, some of our best investments are below ground when we are growing things. We need 25%.
April Weather Summary by Shehbaz Singh, MS
Normal. Temperature in the first week of April, 2022 was about the same as normal trends. Average temperature (Tmax and Tmin) for the first week of April ranged from 38.5° F to 49.5°F.
Not Normal. Precipitation last week (1.5 inches) was quite higher than normal precipitation (0.5 inches) at this time of the month. Interestingly, last year (2021) experienced no rainfall during first week of April.
Snow? Yes, snow. Snow accumulation was about 0.2 inches less than the normal snow accumulation (0.5 inches).
Forecast. For the next 10 days, weather in Chicago area is forecast to be partly to mostly cloudy. A minimum temperature of about 40° F and maximum temperature of about 67 ° F could be experienced. Light precipitation can be expected on most of the days. Furthermore, there could be a severe thunderstorm on April 12th and 13th. Precipitation for April in 2022 could be quite higher than the normal trends for this month.
Is Moss a Weed? by Derek Settle, PhD
A Weed? Well of course it is. However, life is all about perspective. And now that I’m in my mid 50’s I have some of that — perspective. In this case we are dealing with a primitive plant (silvery thread moss) in the wrong place (a golf green).
The Past. In the past, the CDGA Turfgrass Program has collaborated with the USGA Green Section on some important research on moss. In that work, conducted in 2006–2007, we tested novel ways to control moss in sand-based golf greens. The site? It was number 1 green at the Bob Berry Sunshine Course in Lemont, Illinois. The moss? Well it turns out it wasn’t exactly silvery thread moss or Bryum argenteum. Instead, with expert help, we found we had Bryum caespiticium or Bryum lisae var. cuspidatem. The moss didn’t waste any time as the creeping bentgrass greens on Sunshine Course were only about 2 years old in 2006. Moss was already establishing itself in a hurry.
Baking Soda. Back in the day, c. 2005, Randy Kane and Lee Miller heard of a newer way moss was being controlled. It was over the counter. It was simple. Cost was basically nothing. A spot-treatment method that used a concentrated baking soda solution in a spray bottle. Originally the idea was by way of a golf course superintendent in Florida. It worked. Superintendents, as it turns out, are perhaps the best innovators/inventors in the golf industry — especially for the living surface they know best (golf greens). Today, when it comes to moss on greens we use a number of ways to suppress/control it. Just say, “No mas”.
Go K-State. Later, more research would be conducted on moss at Sunshine Course in Lemont. This time with the collaboration of Kansas State University (Megan Kennelly et al.). “Moss Control on Creeping Bentgrass Greens with Standard and Alternative Approaches” published in 2010. Click on link below. https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.45.4.654
Lemont and Mowing Height. In that second study at Lemont we were able to show that a lower mowing height was associated with greater moss encroachment. Like any good weed, if you give it room, it quickly establishes and then completes for what it needs: sunlight, water and nutrients. Lower mowing heights are problematic because a risk of scalping will always exist.
Manhattan and Nitrogen Source. In Manhattan, Kansas they were able to show that synthetic N-source fertilizer (closed triangles) actually increased moss versus an organic N-source fertilizer (closed circles). That suggested that spoon-feeding nitrogen with something like urea in a regular weekly or bi-monthly spray on golf greens might get you in trouble when it comes to a primitive plant like moss. Moss has no roots. It could be why its growth responded favorably to the liquid N approach.
CDGA Fact Sheets. For more on this story please see a portion of a new CDGA Fact Sheet on Silvery Thread Moss by Shehbaz Singh (below).