Thursday, July 28, 2022

Recent Greens Spiking

Below are the pictures of the steps we took for spiking / aeration of the new putting greens this past Monday 7/25/22. We were watching the weather forecast and decided a 98 degree high for the forecast was about as good as we were going to get in July having postponed the Monday prior. Turned out to be quite pleasant and we experienced no weather related issues. For those that are interested, enjoy the pictorial of the process all the way through Tuesday AM.

Step 1 Aerify Middle - The size of the cores depicted here are deceptive. They are actually 1/4" wide by 1/4" long after  the associated sand is removed in the cleanup process. This lines up with the strategy I wrote about last update of doing small timely cultivation events to minimize disruption for both putting quality as well as poa encroachment. Above picture also depicts a new aerifyer that is larger and more productive.

Step 2 Aerify Perimeter - To minimize any injury to the putting surface when operating the larger aerifyer we opted to use our smaller aerifyer in the perimeters of the putting surface.

Step 3 Cleanup - We use an assortment of blowers & shovels to remove all of the little cores. This is the labor intensive, time consuming step.

Little cores piling up during the clean-up process

Little cores appear larger then they are in this close-up picture.

Step 4 - Rolling the green. Little tufts around the small holes need to get rolled out. 

Step 5 - Applying sand topdressing. The USGA Green Section recommends targeting 30 cubic foot (cu. ft.) of topdressing sand per 1000 square feet (M) per year on putting surfaces. The application above represents approximately 2 cu. ft. / M and it will fill the small aeration holes nicely. We routinely lightly topdress the greens at rate of approximately 1 cu. ft. / M but will still struggle to get to that 30 cubic foot per year. Especially because we dont want to have to do large aeration events where topdressing amounts can be in the range of  4 - 5 cu. ft. / M. 

Step 6 Brushing - Topdressing sand needs to be brushed into open aeration holes and turf canopy. This can be a stressful process if the putting surface is stressed or temperatures are too warm. Typically we will have to go over the green in varying patterns a couple of times to get the sand worked in.

Finished product after brushing. These small holes make it difficult sometimes to get the sand worked into the holes. Moisture level in the sand or in the green itself making sand wet causes it to bridge above small open hole. Too much brushing to break this bridging can cause damage to the bentgrass leaf blades so we try to wait as long as we can to start brushing. Its a balance because too dry can cause damage as well, especially when it is warm. 


Step 7 Irrigation - We would not irrigate the putting surface prior to a cultivation event like core aeration but definitely want to immediately afterwards for multiple reasons. First the process of opening the greens up exposes them to the elements and potential 
desiccation, so we want to re-hydrate. Secondly having all of these open holes allows us to easily irrigate the entire putting surface profile to complete saturation subsequently resulting in irrigation field capacity where there is a perfect balance of air and usable water for the plant. Getting the entire putting surface to this balance is not always easy in the absence of the open passageways provided by aeration. This is one of the main reasons we greenskeepers are always trying to poke holes in the turf. 

View of #1 green after initial irrigation following aeration.

Step 8 - Rolling on the morning after aeration. We like to keep the mowers off of the newly aerated green at least a day after the aeration process. Rolling smooths the surface out and makes them playable.  

Step 9 - After we roll the greens we blow off any imperfections and  accumulation of sand. 

I wrote about our poa annua prevention strategy last week as it related to spiking and aeration. We need to have flexibility to do these cultural practices outside seasons of poa germination. This means we need to carry out these practices in the summer and need to be careful undertaking them in extreme temperature's. Therefore we need to be flexible and adjust to  summer weather forecasts.

Neglecting these proactive cultural practices is easy and happens all the time, usually to the playing surface detriment. Golfing events and weather and "the greens are perfect, why are you poking holes in them?", all play a part in neglecting doing the right things for the short and long term health of the playing surfaces. It's a WIN, WIN if we can stick to doing a few timely micro tine aeration or spiking events per year that accomplish agronomic necessities, mitigate poa encroachment and at the same time maintain a very playable putting surface. 

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