Turf & Rec

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Excessive heat and humidity a challenge for turf managers


October 19, 2010
By Mike Jiggens

THE summer of 2010 will be remembered as one of the hottest, most humid
seasons ever. Perhaps it was the hottest and most humid ever.
I certainly don’t remember any previous summer in my lifetime that
could possibly top this one.

The excessive heat and humidity wasn’t confined to southern Ontario where we’re headquartered. This was the trend right across the country. Naturally, it posed a formidable challenge to turf managers everywhere.

With a record number of consecutive days exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and overnight lows that weren’t that far behind, the weather contributed to turf conditions that were a little out of the ordinary.

In what has become an annual visit to Canada for Michigan State University’s Dr. Joe Vargas, the turfgrass science professor noted in his Plant Science-sponsored “turf academy” tours of four Ontario golf courses that the hotter-than-normal nighttime temperatures posed challanges to golf turf. He said it caused the plants to continue to respire at a high rate which led to burned up stored carbohydrates. The plants essentially photosynthesized a few hours each morning, producing the products they needed to survive. During the remainder of the day and night, carbohydrates were burned up through respiration.

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Dr. Vargas’ full report can be read on page 16 of this issue.

It wasn’t just golf superintendents who faced challenges this year. The keepers of lawn bowling greens, especially at smaller, remotely-located clubs, are finding it increasingly difficult to come up with the necessary funds to keep their playing surfaces in tiptop shape.

In Ontario, lawn bowling greens have been granted exemption status under the provincial cosmetic pesticide ban which still allows them to use conventional pesticide control products on their playing surfaces. The problem, however, is that the greens must be sprayed by licensed applicators who also have become fully accredited in integrated pest management.

Greenkeepers at lawn bowling clubs are often members who look after the greens’ upkeep on a voluntary basis. It was one thing for these individuals to acquire their applicator licenses, but the add-on requirement of IPM accreditation has made it cost-prohibitive for many smaller clubs.

This forces these clubs to hire the services of an accredited applicator from a neighbouring golf course or a private contractor, but a number of geographically-isolated lawn bowling clubs must look far beyond their communities to find the qualified personnel. Paying them to make the journey to these remote regions becomes an additional cost, and one which is threatening the bottom line of these clubs.

The provincial pesticide ban, and the various rules and regulations that accompany it, has now two full seasons under its belt. Perhaps it is time for the provincial government to study the impact of its actions and make an adjustment or two to achieve a happy medium.

Legislation designed to protect the environment is one thing. But legislators must also realize that the possible extinction of a popular pastime is not in anyone’s best interest.