Depending on the severity of winter injury, it may be necessary to suspend applications of plant growth regulators for Poa annua seedhead suppression.
As the dust settles on what has been a challenging winter for many northern golf courses, the reality of winter injury is beginning to set in, and plans are being put in place to promote recovery. With a lot of the focus being on which greens to cover and whether to sod, seed or plug injured areas, it’s important not to lose sight of how certain maintenance practices could impact recovery.
Poa annua seedhead suppression is an important component of many agronomic programs because this practice improves playing conditions, aesthetics and saves the plant energy used to produce seed. However, if Poa annua experienced winter injury, should a plant growth regulator still be applied to areas where recovery needs to be promoted?
Whether or not to apply ethephon if you sustained winter injury is not a simple question, since the severity of the injury needs to be considered. It’s likely that not every putting green experienced the same level of injury, so it may be an option to skip the greens hardest hit or skip the most severely damaged portions of the greens. When winter injury is minor, and it appears it will just take a little longer for the turf to green up, it may still be possible to apply ethephon to these less affected areas.
If a late fall or early winter application of ethephon was made, some suppression should still be achieved even without spring applications. Of course, playing it safe and forgoing seedhead suppression applications is always an option. However, be prepared to brush and groom to physically remove seedheads if this strategy is chosen.
The USGA Course Consulting Service can be utilized to develop a site-specific recovery program if winter injury has occurred at your facility. Reach out to your regional agronomist to learn more about how a course visit can be tailored to address your individual needs.