Time to Focus on a Post-Shot Routine
Components of a successful turfgrass management program share much in common with a professional golfer’s shot routine. If you study a golfer’s shot routine, there are three main components – pre-shot routine, the shot itself, and post-shot routine. A professional golfer recognizes the importance of each spends, and a considerable amount of time developing each facet. Within each facet variation can occur among golfers, but the fundamentals are similar.
A pre-shot routine may include selecting the right club, or checking for wind. That evolves to a more complex level including where the start of each shot begins like standing behind the ball, envisioning the shot, and then the routine of setting up over the shot. The second phase is actually hitting the shot. And the last step is the post-shot routine. The post-shot routine does not get as much attention as the previous two steps, but is just as important. The post-shot routine may consist of paying attention to the ball flight, handling negative feelings, and documenting the golf shots to identifying weaknesses and strengths in one’s game.
Of the three routine – pre-shot, hitting the golf shot, and post-shot – the one that the golfer has the least control over is actually hitting the shot. No matter how much they practice, in the end they can’t say for certain where the shot is going.
We can apply these three routines to managing turf. In constructing a turfgrass management program, we focus on three components – the pre-stress period, the stress period, and the post-stress period. The stress period, for example summer stress, is like a golfer actually hitting the shot. The turf manager has the least control over the stress period because it is dictated by the weather.
Pre-stress routines consist of designing management practices to condition the turf for the greatest success of surviving the stress period. The post-stress period of a turfgrass program is often considered the least important of the three routines. This is a mistake. A post-stress program prepares you for the coming year (like the next golf round).
As we are moving from the summer stress phase to the post-stress period, we need to focus now on our post-stress program. The basics of a post-stress program consist of are described below:
If you have suffered turf loss or thinning, it is important to determine the cause of the turf loss and take corrective measures.
Coring is a fall ritual that serves multiple purposes for enhancing turf health. Coring helps alleviate compaction that has occurred during the summer, enhancing turf recovery and promoting overall turf health going into winter. Coring, when combined with heavy topdressing (i.e. sand), can reduce organic matter. When controlling organic matter on sand based greens, the goal is to apply a yearly total of greater than 25 cubic feet per 1000 square feet. Applying sand topdressing in conjunction with fall coring to fill holes is a time when a significant amount of the yearly sand topdressing requirement is made.
Raising the height of a warm season turfgrass like bermudagrass during the fall helps reduce the risk of winter injury. Higher height provides more tissue protection to the crown. On cool season turfgrasses raising the height of cut has not been reported to enhance cold tolerance. However, given the last few brutal winters in the northern United States, Poa annua greens mowed at a higher height of cut seemed to suffer less winter injury than greens mowed at extremely low heights.
For cool season turfgrasses, shoot growth slows in the fall, while root growth increases. Thus fertilizing through the fall proportionally goes more for root growth and storage than for shoot growth.
Dollar spot can cause serious damage to both cool and warm season turfgrasses well into October with the right conditions present. As cooler and wetter weather occurs later in the fall snow mold diseases like Microdochium begin to occur. If monitored, these diseases are generally easy to control. Preventive applications of Posterity® fungicide in the spring can provide dollar spot control into the fall. And fall applications of Contend® fungicide can protect your turf from snow mold in the winter.
Fall is an extremely important time to clean up left over diseases from the summer - specifically anthracnose. Try to minimize any residual anthracnose scars going into winter. These scars or old symptoms serve as a source of inoculum for the coming year.
Fall is the best time to control broadleaf weeds. How weeds are growing at this time promotes favorable translocation of the herbicide.
Insects in general are moving down preparing to overwinter. However, some insects like cutworms can appear, usually around core holes to feed.
About the author
Dr. Karl Danneberger is a professor of Turfgrass Science at The Ohio State University. Dr. Danneberger's contact information can be found here. You may also follow Dr. Danneberger on Twitter: