Week 7 - Turf health survives drought stress
As Covid 19 restrictions across the UK are gradually lifted and welcome golf activity returns, the Syngenta lockdown trial has moved into week seven of the trial.
The timing has been perfect, just as the trial is drawing towards a close, golf courses are now open for play and restrictions on management practises have been largely lifted – albeit within the limitations of appropriate distancing and safe working practice.
However, it may be the case that some clubs are still operating with less than a full complement of greenkeepers or a restricted budget. In these instances, low intensity management is still appropriate and the trial results providing valuable insights.
Reflecting the increase in play, and therefore management intensity, height of cut has been reduced from the initial ‘low intensity’ 5 mm, to a more typical higher intensity 3.5 mm. Encouragingly, with the low intensity management in place, the reduction in height of cut has not resulted a drop in plant health - just a slight loss of colour in those plots that are mown once per week, compared to three and five cuts.
The unusually dry spring weather has meant that drought stress has been a real risk. Whilst we may not have had a heatwave, temperatures have been consistently high, rainfall scarce and we need to remember that in our northern latitude day length is long.
Turf has been subject to a lot of sunshine/daylight, which increases stress and drought risk. Applications of Qualibra, along with a once per week irrigation programme, have kept the turf in good health and free from drought stress.
Along with the potential for drying out, the warm weather has also dramatically reduced Growing Degree Day (GDD) intervals. At the start of the trial, 50 GDD was typically at an interval of 14 days and 100 GDD at 28 days. These are now 7 and 14 days respectively.
GDD intervals have been halved and is a great demonstration of the value of this method as an indicator of when to carry out key maintenance operations.
The trial is located at STRI in Bingley, West Yorkshire and is being run on behalf of Syngenta, with support from ICL.
- The trial is designed to examine lower intensity management strategies during lockdown and the increased management intensity as golf courses open, potentially still with reduced staff numbers
- It is split into 3 mowing programmes, 5 days a week, 3 days a week and 1 day a week.
- Within this are four frequencies of Primo Maxx (0.4l/ha) applications: No PGR treatment; Primo Maxx II at 7-day interval; 50 GDD intervals and 100 GDD intervals.
Trial results continue to demonstrate the value of Primo Maxx for regulating growth and improving evenness of turf. It has also ensured that the turf has maintained good colour.