Turfgrass Scouting Report June 3, 2018

The memorial day weekend has come and gone, as we head into the month of June many of us are glad to see an end to the month of May. The end of Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of golf season for many courses in the state. This year I’m sure many superintendents are having mixed emotions about this. While this is the beginning of summer and longer days, being able to put what has been an abnormal and historical spring behind us is welcomed by all.


Radar image from May 30th tracking subtropical storm Alberto.

Subtropical storm Alberto made its presence known across much of the south, so much so that the U.S. Women’s Open was delayed and caused wet conditions for much of the championship. After Alberto left the south, the storm tracked north and affected much of the Great Lakes region. While the weathermen slightly over predicted rainfall totals for some suburbs other areas were not so lucky. Most courses were praying to stay between the “lines” and avoid the heavy rains. As the storm tracked north, many suburbs along I-355 were the hardest hit areas. Barrington received the largest rainfall totals from this storm with nearly 4.5" drenching the area. Compare that to areas inside of I-294 like Park Ridge and Worth which received less than .25". This last dose of rain puts an end on what was a historical May for much of Chicagoland and Illinois.

The wettest recorded May on record for Chicago

This was the wettest May in the history of Chicago recorded at O’Hare International airport. While this was the wettest month in history much of the Chicagoland area did not see major flooding events which were observed last year in July and October. While receiving this much rain is not desired, many superintendents would rather have rain every day compared to the flooding events from last summer. The issue that arises with this type of rainfall is a lack of oxygen in the rootzone which at this time of year does not help with root growth and may create negative knock on effects during the summer — if conditions continue to be stressful.

Rainfall anomalies vs temperature anomalies for Illinois.

The entire state has been warmer than normal for all of May. Last week saw temperatures above 95°F for much of the state. Over the course of the entire month the entire state was nearly 4 degrees warmer than the historical 30 year average. Wet conditions and warmer temperatures could pose issues for superintendents moving forward, heading into the heat of the summer. These conditions were not unique to Chicagoland with May being the hottest month of May ever recorded for the breaking a record from 1934 during the dust bowl.


Active dollar spot in south Chicago suburbs

Dollar spot Clarireedia jacksonii — note the change in the taxonomy — (for those interested take a look at the link https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878614618300655) loves this recent weather pattern. Warm temperatures, high humidity, and precipitation equals a perfect storm for dollar spot. As I mentioned in the last scouting report timely spray applications will most likely reduce your chances for breakthrough. Also understanding that stretching your spray window during high pressure situations will also increase your risk as well. While temperatures this weekend have been much cooler, dollar spot will not be as big of an issue until temperatures ramp back up. However other problems could be present moving forward.

Brown ring patch symptoms on a putting green in the Chicagoland area this week

Brown ring patch Waitea circinata var. circinata may become active with the cooler temperatures for the week ahead. DMI fungicides have great efficacy on this pathogen if this is a problem on your golf course. Generally the pathogen will not kill turf but it can be frustratingly resilient and discolor turf for periods of time. While temperatures appear to look like returning to normal for much of the state now is a good time to needle tine putting greens and introduce oxygen back into the soil. The hot temperatures and wet conditions may have a negative impact on the root system especially on putting greens. By aerating or spiking putting greens this will allow for gas exchange and recovery to occur. Further more this will encourage root growth while overall temperatures are favorable ahead of a what looks to be a warm summer. This is a good agronomic practice to reduce the risk of root pruning or pathogens to infect a compromised root system.

Management Practices

Cottonwood seeds covering a tee box and fairway.

On top of all the rain and warm temperatures it’s that time of year when cottonwood trees bless us with the gift of snow during the summer. Well maybe not snow but with enough seeds produced by cottonwood trees it certainly looks like snow in many areas. An individual tree can produce nearly 25 million seeds which can cause headaches for many superintendents. Superintendents are quite inventive and this week I was shown another ingenious way to deal with the cottonwood seed issues.

Rolling fairways to remove cottonwood seeds. Courtesy. J. Schaefer.

Mr. Schaefer, golf course superintendent at Stonehenge Golf Course has been able to remove these pesky cottonwood seed by using a roller to pick them up. The ideal time to do this is during the morning when dew is present, and the more dew that is present the better it works. By rolling the fairway this is killing two birds with one stone. One you are removing the cottonwood seeds and two you are removing the dew which has its benefits as well. Research from Michigan State University has shown that removal of dew has reduces dollar spot severity on fairways. Furthermore rolling fairways has also been shown to reduce dollar spot severity as well. By successfully removing cottonwood seeds via rolling you are also potentially reducing dollar spot severity at the same time; this is a winner in my book.

Lastly another management strategy I would like to mention is potentially applying a plant growth regulator in the rough around fairways. Right now the grass is growing like a wild fire and many places are struggling to keep up. Excess moisture by making an application of a plant growth regulator to your rough this will slow down top growth and should provide some time to catch up your rough mowing.

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

Ron Townsend

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




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

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

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