May! : See You Later Alligator (April), Nada on Diagnostics, Temperature Timings, and Divot Study DATA
Overall, April was cold. And so it was fitting. Fitting that it ended on a cold note. I would call it B flat or Brrr flat. In the final week we saw a night or two with warnings of freezing. One day was actually hot. Like 80+ degrees. How it goes in the shoulder seasons of Chicago!?! Now, back to that cold. In part, we just aren’t as fully equipped as say January, February, March when we are 100% expecting it (to be cold). Which means, “pilot error” was experienced a lot more in the month of April (when I was picking out what jacket(s) to wear). As usual, my hypothesis was wrong = I was not jacketed up enough.
Nevertheless, the last week of April is a good time to enjoy spring in the upper Midwest. Of note PJM Rhododendrons are in full purple bloom. Amelanchier shrubs/trees are now doing their white blooms and this closely follows the other very obvious white flowering tree which is suffering growing controversy as an unwanted (ornamental bradford pears). Fraxinus or ash trees were obvious too. With their “not-too-ornamental green flowers” on full display — honestly it looks more like neon-chartreuse. But I digress. Back to the golf course side of things. We are still stuck. Stuck on what cool temperatures do to turfgrass. The best word for that? Semi-dormancy. It’s the off-color, slow-growing, saturated-soil thing that it’s been all spring. Still we are progressing. For example, more learning and preparing. In meetings with golf course superintendents and industry (twice this week). As always, I was influenced by the discussions and I took notes. See you later alligator (April).
Weather Summary (April week 4) by Shehbaz Singh, MS
Air temperature. The Chicago area has experienced the warmest day of April. It was about 85 ° F on April 23rd (Saturday). That was followed by a sudden air temperature drop. The rest of the week air temperature ranged from about 33° F to 54° F. Chicago’s air temperature range was quite lower than the normal trends. In contrast, last year at this time the temperature for April was higher than normal trends with 4–5 days of high temperatures greater than 80° F.
Precipitation. Accumulated precipitation across Chicago for April this year is about 3.73 inches. This is about normal given we typically accumulate about 3.6 inches of precipitation by April’s end. On April 24th, precipitation of about 0.41 inches was recorded for Chicago area. However, trace rainfall was experienced on most days of the week. In contrast, the spring of 2021 was very dry. Only 0.9 inches of rainfall was recorded the whole month of April.
Forecast. As we enter May, weather is forecast to be partly to mostly cloudy. Severe thunderstorms could be expected on April 30th (Saturday) and also on May 3rd (Tuesday). Light to moderate rainfall can be expected on most days. Air temperature is predicted to range from 44 to 66° F.
Diagnostics — Nada
As one might expect cold temperatures have one benefit. Degree day accumulations have been running about a week behind in the Midwest. Cool conditions are a natural antagonist to a majority of our plant pathogens (insert fungi here) that negatively impact turfgrass. It means in growing season 2022 our initial application timings for early prevention have been delayed (to early May).
Temperature Timings for Fungicides
Things that roll of the tongue of golf course superintendents this time of year sound a little strange. We say them anyway. Like Waitea, take-all, fairy ring, Pythium root rot, summer patch, anthracnose and dollar spot. It is when 1st fungicide applications go out. You see, a strategic early timing (when soil temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees F) allows the potential initial suppression of approximately seven fungal diseases. Timing, it can be argued, is everything in life. Too early can be wasteful (fungicides do nothing as fungal growth has not yet initiated). Too late can be wasteful (higher rates are typically employed for curative fungicide applications).
Divot Study Data Begins
The Chicagoland Association of Golf Course Superintendents, cagcs.org, held an open forum meeting for members only at Lake Shore Country Club on April 27. I was able to attend with Shehbaz Singh and share a little more on why the CDGA was doing a divot study in 2022. The treatments chosen were based on a historic divot study done by the University of Illinois in about 2005 and by communication/collaboration with Zach Nicoludis of the USGA. The idea came from the CDGA Green Committee group that came up with ideas of research that would be of interest to golfers. Other topics shared ranged from sand bunker construction, to ball mark repair on greens, to the use of new herbicides. For more information on the new divot study in Lemont, please see below (a new CDGA Research Fact Sheet by Shehbaz Singh).