Prime Time For Primo

Spray Primo in south Florida
Summer has arrived across the United States and golfers are flocking to their local courses expecting to see perfection. Some courses are dealing with above normal rains and others are faced with drought conditions. This seems to be the norm these days. We just can’t find a happy median where the weather and turf conditions are in sync. The Winter of 2012 was the warmest on record and many courses opened early only to get kicked in the pants with ice and snow weeks later. Here in Miami, we are 15 inches above our normal rain fall and today Naples just declared a new level of water restrictions because of the lack of rain.

Finally this week we had one day with no rain, so we took advantage of it and sprayed our fairways with Primo Maxx. This is about a month behind schedule and our turf is growing like crazy. Primo is a key product for Syngenta and it works wonders on Bermudagrass. Primo slows the vertical shoot growth and promotes lateral growth. I spray my Tif-Eagle greens every Friday with 3 oz per acre of Primo to mange green speed and overall plant health. We applied 8 oz per acre of Primo and 1 gal per acre of Harrells Minors to our fairways to shut them down and green them up. In July, we will spray them again at a 10 oz rate and in August max out a 12 oz rate. September’s application is back to a 8 oz rate.

Primo cuts down on labor, reduces the use of fuel, and stops mower disruptions during peak season of play. Turf quality improves and the roots grow deeper. Get into that chemical room today and mix up a load of Primo. You will be happy you did.

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Hand watering fairways during the 2011 south florida drought by Eric von Hofen
Growing turf in South Florida this year has not been easy.  This past winter brought with it below normal temperatures, with many areas of the state dealing with frost delays and brown turf.  We just can’t seem to catch a break and the hits just keep on coming.  The National Weather Service predicts the drought for this area will last well into the wet season.   Here in Miami, we’ve only had 11.25 inches of rain so far this year.  Naples reports in with only 10.4 inches and Palm Beach with 13 inches of rain this year.  The rainy season usually starts around the middle to end of May.  Hurricane season begins on June 1st and lasts until November 30th. At the rate we’re going, it doesn’t seem like it will ever rain again.

southeast drought monitor by Eric J. von Hofen
The drought monitor shows just how bad the conditions are around the state.  South Florida Water Management District and local water utilities have implemented water restrictions for all golf courses in our area.  Surface water usage must be reduced by 15% and effluent water usage from utilities must be reduced by 35%.   These cut backs change every month because the permitted usage amount during the summer rainy months reflects the historical rain fall that is supposed to happen.  One problem now, it has not rained in the month of June and usage has been cut big time.

Low lake levels by Eric J. von Hofen
To make things worse, many golf course irrigation lakes are drying up and the water level is below the intakes on the pump stations.  The courses that can still pump water are reporting that the water quality is so bad that they are holding off on using it.  The chlorides are high as the water in a swimming pool and the pH is in the 9’s. At this point there is not much you can do other than watch your course burn up and pray for rain.  Courses are going to cart paths only and moving the aeration practices back because you can’t water enough to keep the place alive.  This is how bad it is down here.

I have been using the Harrells Symphony wetting agent product to pull me through these hard times.  We have been spraying the greens and tees with this product and the results have been outstanding.  Hand watering during the day is broken up into teams for the approaches, tees and greens.  The rough is left to fend for itself.  Plant material is stressed out also and water wagons are being used to keep the non native plants alive during this drought.

Golfers have been understanding so far because their yards are also burning up.  Let’s hope things change soon and we get some nectar from the gods.

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Greens Aeration by Eric von Hofen
It’s that time of the year when putting greens around the State of Florida go to the spa, yes the spa. Aeration on Tifeagle bermudagrass greens is a must and is well under way by now. I like to punch holes in the greens at least four times a summer. May kicks off the first time, followed by June then July and the last time in August. This has greatly helps the control of thatch and improves the Ksat levels. Remember we get over 65 inches of rain a year.

I first circle verticut the greens and collars. We then bring on the Toro Procore, collect the cores, clean off the greens, and then apply a heavy topdressing of coarse sand. Out come the drag brushes, one brush to fill in the holes and one the finish groom the greens. An application of Harrell’s 17-1-10 is put down to help the greens recover, we turn on the water and sit back for the next three days. The greens will be brushed one to two more times this week and rolled to level them out. We will mow them later in the week.

Check out this HD video of the aeration process and how we do it Miami style.

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