Turfgrass Scouting Report: September 9, 2018

Labor Day, the day many people in the turfgrass industry have been waiting for has come and gone. The week after Labor Day many courses are closed, and superintendents begin the process of aerification. This year while many courses were closed during this past week it was not for aerification but rather because of saturated conditions. Rainfall totals prevented many courses from performing the majority of their aerification practices. This past week and this summer, in general, has shown how our golf course superintendents can be flexible and overcome obstacles which they are not in control. Mother nature has not been kind this year and again what is usually a week of celebration has been marked with headaches and pleas for the rain to go away.


Well, it rained this week and then rained some more, and finally, it rained this weekend. Needless to say, it is incredibly wet in some locations. This unwanted rain put a wrench in many superintendents plans this week to aerify playing surfaces. Those courses which were not aerifying this week couldn’t mow many playing surfaces. Everyone from Rockford down to Effingham is behind on agronomic practices, and next week we will see many courses trying to catch up.

Starting Labor Day weekend rain moved into northern Illinois, and parts of this system produced large totals. Areas around the I-90 corridor saw totals ranging from 4" to 8" in spots. Many courses were flooded, and superintendents were watching the radar closely hoping the rain would miss their course.

However, some courses were still able to get out and start the aerification process despite the flooding rains. But even if courses were ready to begin the process, the midweek rains certainly stalled or delayed these plans.

While rainfall totals were not as high in the northern part of the state later in the week, folks in central Illinois were treated to heavier rains totaling 6" in spots.

Many courses have done a great job informing memberships about the rain and courses may have changed their aeriation schedule due to the saturated conditions. The wet conditions have been the story for most of this year starting with our record-setting rainfall totals this spring. Fall hasn’t officially begun yet but, let’s hope this trend over the past week does not continue or is a sign of things to come. Fortunately, next week looks to provide excellent conditions for courses to begin to dry out and catch up on mowing or aerification.


Over the past two weeks, some of our nastier diseases pythium and gray leaf spot have been active. This year disease pressure has been unlike another in recent memory. Both pythium and gray leaf spot are typically diseases in northern Illinois we do not usually worry about this late into the season. While we have seen these diseases in prior years, typically pressure is only contained to a one or two weeks in late July. This year it seems that the window for these diseases started in early July and are continuing into Septemeber. I have also seen anthracnose and bipolaris leaf spot active this week which was just another problem to add to the list. Next week we should see a decrease in disease pressure across the board. If you have been battling some of these diseases, next week might be a good time to catch up and knock back some of these fungi, ultimately providing a clean slate to start the fall.


Crabgrass pressure this year has been very high, areas of the rough continue to see crabgrass germinating. We have also seen more crabgrass in bentgrass playing surfaces which can be harder to control. Many courses are looking to make applications to reduce populations this fall, which will help to minimize pressure next spring. Postemergence control of crabgrass can be done using multiple herbicides. However, selecting a herbicide depends on the growth stage of the crabgrass and the herbicide safety on the desired turfgrass species. Some herbicides which can are labeled for use in rough areas containing kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennial ryegrass include Mesotrione, Fenoxaprop, Quinclorac, and Topramezone. Selecting a herbicide to control crabgrass in creeping bentgrass surfaces is a bit more difficult. Quinclorac and Fenoxaprop are two of the herbicides which can be applied to creeping bentgrass surfaces excluding putting greens. While these herbicides are safer to use on creeping bentgrass they can still cause injury if misapplied, following the label and using proper rates is crucial when making these applications.

Management Strategy

Now is a great time to start introducing new plant genetics into older stands of turfgrass. Overseeding areas which may have thinned out this year either due to abiotic or biotic stress will regain turf cover while also improving plant genetics. Using the results from http://www.ntep.org/ can help selection for which species may be right for your golf course. Given how rough the summer has been this fall may be a perfect time to implement an overseeding program if not on the entire golf course but maybe in some smaller areas of the course.

As I have mentioned multiple times this season, the summer we have gone through here in the midwest has been one of the worst in recent memories. The USGA recently posted an excellent article about the cost of a wet summer which is an excellent resource for a superintendent to share with their golfing membership, see the link below for the full article.

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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