When weather patterns are not typical, as with this summer, it is useful to both look ahead and behind to help improve your maintenance practices and better time future applications.
Documenting the Past
One advantage to tough summers like this is they provide an opportunity to learn. Experiencing tough summers will prepare us to better handle the next one. Take inventory of problem areas you manage and note the causes of turf decline in these areas (shade, irrigation deficiency, thatch, soil type, soil layering, soil compaction, pests, etc.) and refine your maintenance practices and agronomic programs. It is important to treat individual sites (tees, greens, and portions of fairways on golf courses; specific athletic fields; lawns, etc.) as individuals and refine maintenance practices to be site specific rather than treating all areas similarly. Treating these areas as individuals will help you to avoid problem spots and stay on top of those problem areas you manage.
It may be helpful to take photographs of these troublesome areas in order to better manage them in the future. It is easy to forget the specifics of these problem areas if we don’t document them now. It may be helpful to map out these areas as well with detailed notes, drawings, and photographs.
When trying to explain to a homeowner, greens committee member, or other customer how the weather impacted the quality of the turf it may be beneficial to provide rainfall and temperature data for those locations for the past. At http://iclimate.org/ you can access custom maps for the past 7, 30 or 90 day period similar to those below. Drought maps are also available at http://iclimate.org/ and http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html through the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. It may be helpful to include these maps in a newsletter, bulletin, email, or other communications to your clients.
Predicting the Future
You are familiar enough with your local weather man to know that predicting the future weather is difficult at best and filled with errors. However, there are a couple of places to go to if you are looking for predictions on when and how certain weather phenomena might occur.
Autumn (first frost) and spring (last) frost prediction dates for various temperatures (28, 32, and 36 °F). These maps are available at http://iclimate.org/toolbox.asp.
One month long-term temperature outlook maps are available. These maps indicate the chance (prediction percentage) that temperatures will be warmer than normal, equal chance to normal, or cooler than normal. These maps are available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ . Currently, the map shows that there is a 40% chance that September will be warmer (above) than normal.
One month long-term rainfall outlook maps are also available. These maps indicate the chance (prediction percentage) that rainfall will be lower than normal, equal chance to normal, or above normal. These maps are available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ . Currently, the map shows that we have an equal chance (EC) of having an average rainfall for September.
Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist
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