Turfgrass Scouting Report: 4/21/19

This spring continues to amaze golf courses across the region. Two weeks ago I was concerned about the lack of warm weather and the potential slowdown this could have on courses coming out of dormancy. This week, while making my rounds, many courses have woken up almost overnight it seems. Warmer temperatures and higher light intensities have done wonders to get this spring back on track. This, of course, is a bit puzzling due to the measurable snowfalls across northern Illinois which thankfully melted off within 48 hours. Spring feels like it is going to come all at once and staying ahead on pesticide applications and cultural practices will be key heading into next month.


Temperature anomalies at the Sunshine Course Lemont IL

As I mentioned earlier, the past couple of weeks have been odd, to say the least. Last Sunday we saw measurable snow across the area which hung around for about 48 hours before melting off. This melt was largely due to the increased light intensity seen across the region along with warmer temperatures. So far this month, our soil temperatures have shown a nice trend in rising over the past few weeks, ultimately catching us back up to normal for this time of the year.

Temperature anomalies compared to the 30 year averages

So far this month our high temperatures have been fluctuating compared to our 30 year average high temperature. Our low temperatures have been above average for most of the month, allowing soil temperatures to rise without being hindered by the colder nighttime temperatures.

Future temperature anomaly for April 19 to May 5

Taking a look at the models for future temperatures shows a relatively warm next couple of weeks. This will be an opportune time to finish up any projects that may have been delayed by the cooler temperatures. Pre-emergence and some post-emergence herbicide applications should also be on the docket during this time period as well as any cultural practices in the way of aerification.


Dandelion affected by the colder temperatures from April 7

The cold snap last weekend actually may have helped some courses due to some winter annual weeds getting shocked after germinating. However, this did not remedy any widespread weed issues as some weeds are out in full force this past week.

Flowering dandelion in golf course rough southern suburbs of Chicago

Some dandelions are already flowering and at this point, post-emergence herbicides are required for successful control. Dandelions are among the first broadleaf winter annuals to germinate in the spring along with henbit and chickweed which can be seen below.

Henbit actively growing in a flower bed
Several Chickweed plants growing in a flower bed

Removing these weeds can be done either through physical removal which is more practical in flower beds or through herbicide applications if in a golf course setting. The key to success in control weeds is to control the seed bank population through elimination over the course of time. If your course has a significant weed problem creating a herbicide program can help significantly especially if done with multiple applications over several years. Over time this will reduce the seed bank population and controlling these weeds in the future will be easier.


Fairy Ring symptoms on a golf course putting green.

Interestingly fairy ring symptoms have been observed already this spring. As the soil temperatures continue to rise fungicide applications should be planned for possible sometime this week and into next. Fairy ring can be active over a wide range of soil temperatures. However, as daily average soil temperatures creep into the mid-50’s, it’s time to consider preventive control. Fungicides applied for fairy ring control should be delivered at a high spray rate volume (2–4 gal/M). Some research also suggests that a soil surfactant be added into the spray mixture. Post application also improves fungicide performance.


Earthworm castings due to the recent wet weather

Earthworms are starting to make mechanics and superintendents unhappy. These castings are formed as the result of the worms feeding and expelling soil- and nutrient-rich aggregates. Castings can be affected by several different factors including earthworm population, soil moisture, temperature, pH and texture. These castings on golf courses can reduce aesthetics, decrease turf playability and can cause equipment damage if left unmonitored. A study recently completed at the University of Arkansas showed that sand topdressing on native soil rootzones can reduce castings while on sand-capped rootzones topdressing did not reduce castings. Ultimately earthworms are great for the environment and soil health, however, their castings are an annoying problem.

Education Opportunities

PBI-Gordon will be hosting two education events here in Chicago in the upcoming weeks. For more information and to register, see the link below.


Any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact me,

Ron Townsend

rtownsend@cdga.org | (630) 685–2310 | CDGATurfgrassProgram



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Dedicated researchers and turf pathologists working for golf course superintendents in the Chicago area.