Friday, July 22, 2011


Leslie Park almost made it to triple digit temperatures yesterday but not quite. According to the weather station, we hit 97.3 degrees. Some of the other weather stations around town hit 100, including one in Ypsilanti that recorded 102! We do have the advantage of not being surrounded by pavement and buildings. The low temperature was 76.4 to mark the fourth day the temperature did not drop below 70. It was also the fifth straight day of 90 degrees plus.

We got a nice little surprise this morning, as the temperature when I got in this morning was a comfortable 65. I almost needed a jacket. Almost. Hopefully, this will reset the clock on Pythium development , so we will start watering fairways at night again.

The forecast is still calling for a break from the high temps coming after the weekend. There is also a fair chance for some much needed rain.  We have only gotten 0.51 inches of rain in the month of July. This might seem a little low because of Monday's storms but they seemed to go right around the golf course. While other local communities got up to an inch of rain, we only got 0.01 inches here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's not the heat................

It's the humidity. Actually, it's both. As I write this, the weather station says that it is 87 degrees with a heat index of 98. The dew point is 77  and the relative humidity is 72 percent. Did I mention it is 9:18 AM? When I woke up, it was 82.

These conditions are much worse than hot and dry. One of the biggest fears of golf course superintendents is of a Pythium outbreak. Pythium is a fungus, Pythium graminicola and other Pythuim species, that appears suddenly during hot, humid weather. It requires night-time low temperatures of over 68 degrees and more than 10 hours a day of leaf wetness for several consecutive days. The symptoms are greasy, circular spots, 1 to 2 inches in diameter that rapidly enlarge in size. It can also form fluffy white masses of mycelium (the fruiting bodies of a fungus) which can coalesce to form large, irregular patches of dead turf. This mycelium can be transported by vehicles, mowers or water.

Given the speed with which a pythium outbreak can become large patches of dead turf, we have sprayed the greens and tees with a fungicide that will prevent pythium.  We will try to not spray the fairways, given the amount of area that would be involved. Instead, we have cut back on the irrigation on the fairways in order to decrease the humidity in the turf canopy. This may result in some brown areas on the fairways, but will also save us from having to spray a fungicide on 25 acres of turf. This is not only better for the environment, but also helps our budget. 

One of the reasons we can contemplate cutting the irrigation is because of the high humidity. According to our weather station, the evapotranspiration (ET) rate yesterday was 0.14 inches. This is an estimate of the amount of water that the turf will use during a day. To compare, the ET rate on Friday, July 8th was 0.24 inches, even though the high temperature that day was 84 degrees. The relative humidity was down near 32%.

Hopefully, this weather will break soon. WeatherUnderground is forcasting the low temperature on Monday to be 61 degrees. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tree Update

We had an outside contractor come in to cut down the tree that was hit by lightning on Monday. We opted to just take down the trunk which had all of the bark torn off. The arborist had doubts that the rest of the tree will survive, but we thought it was better to just take down the unsafe portion of the tree at this time and hope for the recovery of the remaining tree.

We had the outside contractor come in, because with the storm that came through, the City's forestry department could not guarantee that they would be able to get to it before the City Championship this weekend. The contractor just took down the damaged limbs and trunk and left it there for us to cleanup. This saves us money and leaves the portion of the job that we feel comfortable with.
The debris on the ground.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lightning and Rain

Thanks to yesterday's storms that rolled through Ann Arbor, Leslie Park got almost a half an inch of much needed rain. Unfortunately, the rain also came with some lightning. While the crew was standing in the barn, looking out over hole #17, there was a very bright flash, immediately followed by a loud clap of thunder. Sadly, that meant that the lightning hit somewhere on the course. After taking a small tour around the course, it was easy to find exactly where the lightning hit. This cherry tree on the left side of #4 fairway shows the power of lightning. All of the bark is gone from about 20 feet off the ground. The trunk is also spilt. We are currently talking to certified arborists to decide what to do with this tree.

 Here, you can see the split in the trunk.

The group of trees on the left of #4

Here, you can see the extent of the bark removal.

The view from #5 tee.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June 2011 Weather Summary

After hoping for the rain to stop in April and May, it finally did. In June we got 1.18 inches of rain. Weather Underground says that 1.98 inches would be normal. We had just three days of rain in excess of 0.1 inches of rain and 8 days with more than a trace of rain. The month had a total evapotranspiration (ET) rate of almost 5.25 inches. ET is an estimation of how much water a plant would use. It is calculated by the weather station and takes into account humidity, solar radiation (sunlight), wind speed and temperature. So the turf ran at a deficit of over 4 inches of rain. This is why the non-irrigated areas on the course are turning brown and going into dormancy.

Ann Arbor had 2 days where the high temperature was above 90 degrees, with the highest temperature recorded being on the 8th.  The lowest temperature for the month of June was 50.7 on the 13th. The average temperature was 69.0.

Highest wind speed recorded was 33 miles per hour on the 1st.