No two seasons are exactly the same, that is well understood in the turf management industry and turf managers have historically excelled with the challenge of variability……in fact it’s this type of challenge that attracts many to the industry. Enter 2020. In my 20 (professional) years in the industry, I can’t recall anything that has presented the type and range of challenges that have been presented thus far in 2020.
Turf diseases, insect and weed pests are always front of mind once weather begins to break and, although often frustrating and in some cases nerve racking, a “disease” that impacts the operation from a staff, protocol, scheduling and reduced ability to fully generate revenue has proven to be something that no one was, or could have been fully prepared for. With that said, turf managers are, by far, some of the most creative problem solvers I know and in short time, I have seen and heard of how each put their unique spin in place to overcome something that there is not a “product solution” for.
Agronomically speaking, reduced inputs, cultural and chemical alike were in order in many scenarios. In order to offset, in instances when chemical inputs were applied, higher label rates were utilized to try and enhance or extend control windows. Culturally, some were able to take advantage of no or limited course play to implement aeration, verticutting, topdressing and other practices that ultimately should result in a net positive in the long run.
With all of these challenges in play, the undefeated champion of uncertainty, Mother Nature, marched along as if nothing was going on. Here is a brief summary of what has been seen to date and some potential scenarios for the near future.
Crabgrass, goosegrass and Poa annua, not always in that order, are still among the most targeted weed pests for the mid-Atlantic region. After reaching 55°F Soil Temperature averages for three consecutive days in mid-March for Northern Virginia/DC and early April in the Baltimorearea, any crabgrass that began to emerge encountered a few extended periods of unseasonably cold temperatures in mid-April and again in mid-May. Although this seemed to set it back temporarily, it didn’t completely stop it. It did, likely however, provide an assist for well-timed pre-emergent herbicides. We will see how they hold up as the heat of summer sets in.
Goosegrass emergence by historical temperature indicators came around the second week of April in NoVA/DC and early May for the Baltimore area. Like crabgrass, the cold temperatures in mid-May may have helped slow/set back emerged plants, so it will be worth seeing how that may have aided applications targeting its emergence/progression.
Figure 1 – Soil Temperatures beginning March 1