Sunday, August 8, 2010

Let me grab a jacket

That's something you don't normally hear during August in Stockton.  However, most of us have probably been saying that lately.  While the majority of the country is sweltering with hot weather these last few weeks, the unseasonably cool conditions in Northern California will continue for the next seven days at the very least.

Normal highs this time of year are around 93 degrees with multiple triple digit afternoons to be expected.  Instead, we can barely hit 90 and evening temps are below sixty.  We've been lowering irrigation times and shutting off heads to prevent wet spots which is exactly the opposite of what we've been programmed to do in mid-August.

The greens only received one night of overhead irrigation with spot watering by hand getting us by.  This gets the greens a little quicker, but the sodium in the soil wicks up the profile and interferes with the health of the turf.  Tonight, we've scheduled what I'd call a mini-flush of the greens with about an hour of irrigation for each sprinkler head.  We turn off 1 to 3 heads for a few greens if they overlap a bunker or if they put too much water on the rough or approach.  The heads run for a portion of the total time and then stop to let it soak in.  When the green can handle more, it comes back on for the next cycle.

Washing sodium through the profile is made easier with wetting agents.  Simply put, wetting agents are glorified soap that helps soil get wet.  There are a ton of these on the market and they all work a little differently than each other.  I tried 10 or so before I found the best one for Stockton's greens.

When I hand watered greens on Saturday, I noticed the water infiltration had really slowed down.  The greens were not draining as well as they did just a few days ago.  So Sunday, I came in dark and early and sprayed a wetting agent before the mowers and roller prepared the greens for play.  The golf course is a really interesting place at 3:30 am, but please don't come see it for yourself at that time, just take my word for it.

The application went fine and I have yet to receive any complaints from the few homeowners who live adjacent to the 1st and 3rd greens.  The morning was very still.  It was dark, misty and very cool so I'm glad I grabbed my jacket.  Tonight the heads will be turning more than usual and sodium will be one less thing to worry about for a few weeks.