By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.
[Note: This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]
Greens are the most valuable real estate on a golf course. Keeping them in top condition is a priority for every golf course superintendent. We always try to be proactive, to address known potential problems before they become actual problems that the members and patrons notice. But even with the best planning and prevention measures, unexpected problems come up. And if a problem is on the greens, then it’s “all hands on deck” time.
Technology is available to help us maintain the health of our greens, not to mention our entire courses. I’m a big fan of soil and plant analysis, using science to its fullest to help create and maintain good plant health. Soil analysis, in particular, can be a big help, because many turf diseases stem from soil conditions that are known to be conducive to pathogens. These conditions should always be on our radar so that we can deal with them before serious problems arise.
Soil is where all things good and bad begin for turf. It is the foundation of almost everything we do to create healthy, playable conditions for all to enjoy. Analysis not only gives us a view of nutrient levels, but also gives us a view into our soil structure, organic matter, our soil’s potential for health, and much more. These analyses can also help us to look into the future to see if there is an emerging environment conducive to pathogens that can lead to turf disease.
Huma Gro® Turf has developed a standard turf health program for greens that has been successful all over the world. The focus is on soil health and nutrition along with plant health and managed growth. The program is a package of four products, all powered by Micro Carbon Technology® for quick plant and soil response. They include MULTI-PURPOSE for soil health, BREAKOUT® for turf density and increased root mass, TURF IRON for color, and TURFPLEX® VII for balanced nutrition. These liquid products are simply poured into a sprayer tank prefilled with water—no dissolving needed, no compatibility issues, and no clogging of nozzles. Better yet, no watering-in is needed. These products can be applied in your normal application routine and can be watered in as part of a standard irrigation program.
One of the benefits of the Huma Gro® Turf products is that the Micro Carbon Technology® protects the nutrient molecule so that leaching and runoff become less of an issue for your course. This results in less wasted product and makes the courses much more environmentally friendly.
With the best plans in place and with the best of intentions, problems can still arise from time to time. Sometimes these are the result of inherited problems caused by years of mismanagement, and sometimes they are the result of extraordinary circumstances that are out of the superintendent’s control.
One such challenge is fairy ring.
Fairy ring can be caused by multiple types of fungi. When large numbers of these fungi colonize in a particular location, the soil becomes hydrophobic, or water repellent. Fairy ring can be a simple nuisance in the early stages, but it can lead to turf death along the rings when not confronted. When signs of fairy ring first emerge, it’s important to begin treatment before turf damage occurs. One proven intervention is Huma Gro® Turf’s PROMAX® product—an organic, OMRI listed, broad-spectrum fungicide that can be applied any time without harm to the turf or the environment. It has a zero-reentry interval, meaning that golf play can resume the same day as treatment. PROMAX® is both a curative and preventive product. When applied once a quarter, PROMAX® can also help to keep a healthy soil environment that is pathogen-free.
When spot-spraying PROMAX® or any other fungicide for fairy ring, it is important to treat both sides of the ring—fairy ring travels as the fungi seek out new food sources. It is also important to get product deep into the soil environment. Fungi can be present in the thatch layer down to 10+ inches deep in the soil. Once the fungi have been dealt with, it is important to address the hydrophobic “dry spot” they created in the soil. This can be dealt with by applying SURF-MAX®, a surfactant that brings moisture back into the soil and allows healthy hydration and nutrition uptake to resume.
Another preventive measure that can be taken to minimize the threat of fairy ring is proper management of the thatch layer itself. Huma Gro® Turf’s FERTIL HUMUS® product can aid in this management by decomposing the thatch layer and building a humus-rich soil.
Although any turf disease is a complex situation that may require special interventions, the steps and products I’ve described here provide additional tools for the superintendent’s arsenal in achieving overall soil health—the first step to creating healthy greens.
A complete list of Huma Gro® Turf special programs can be found at https://humagroturf.com/special-turf-programs/.