To Measure Is To Know

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Degree Days: Why They Matter for Turf Managers

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Degree days measure how warm or cold it has been in a certain spot over a 24-hour timeframe. For turf managers, this information can be critical for scheduling effective weed and pest chemical treatments; insects are most likely to be problematic for plants above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Grow degree days are computed by adding the high temperature and the low temperature for the day and dividing by two and then subtracting 50 (base) degrees. Effectively monitoring turf with the assistance of degree days for preventing and treating weed growth is essential given the myriad of challenges golf course superintendents and turf managers face from nature, like annual bluegrass weevils, and weather, predictable and unpredictable. They need the right data from the right equipment that will provide valuable, real-time information to make informed plant health decisions throughout the year for optimal playability.


The Impact of Annual Bluegrass Weevils on Turf

Annual bluegrass weevils give golf course superintendents headaches because these pests feed on very low-cut grass that you find on golf courses. The damage caused by annual bluegrass weevils eating the crown of the plant on golf courses is devastating for plant health and playability; it’s clearly visible and continues to be a serious problem for central and northeastern parts of the United States. Tracking and evaluating data from degree days will make a positive impact on determining when to apply insecticides when treating for annual bluegrass weevil. Degree days calculations typically start March 1. Scouting for adults should begin as close to March 1 as feasible, though some colder areas may not have adult activity until late March. Protecting low-cut turf saves golf course superintendents in resources and labor costs, not to mention helps protect them from potential reputational damage from golfers seeing and judging a golf course due to unsightly turf damage and decreased playability.

Plant Growth Regulators

Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are chemicals used to alter plant growth. When these chemical modifications are applied, the timing of turf grass is impacted so that the plant grows more slowly, which cuts down on the frequency of mowing fairways, thereby reducing labor costs among other things. According to the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, applying PGRs can decrease mowing requirements by up to 60 percent without a significant, negative impact in turf quality. And there’s a correlation between PGRs and degree days because air temperature can dictate when to apply certain PGRs.

Using Plant Growth Regulators at Golf Courses

The golf course maintenance staff applying PGRs need detailed, up-to-the-minute information for making informed decisions on when to apply modifying chemicals to ensure continued plant health on their golf courses. What will give them this information is getting in the right data-collecting equipment. Continuing to explain and promote the value of using degree days — and the accompanying product solutions — to golf course superintendents should be a priority moving forward because the golf industry has not used degree days in a significant way for turf and chemical management.

Our Solutions

Spectrum® Technologies, Inc. has the products and, equally important, the right knowledge for measuring and using data gathered from grow degree days. With our products, golf course superintendents will rest assured knowing they have the proper equipment with precise technology giving them accurate and timely data for applying PGRs and turf pest management. Our WatchDog® Weather Stations will easily capture the data needed to use degree days to your advantage. Real-time data and remote monitoring will let the data drive your decision making for applying PGRs while saving costs in products and labor. WatchDog® Weather Stations keep users informed on current turf conditions and weather factors, both critical for degree day analysis.

“To measure is to know” is our guiding principle and degree days can provide critical, measurable data for turf managers and golf course superintendents working to maintain the highest quality plant heath for their customers. Particularly given the damaging effects of the annual bluegrass weevil and the unpredictable and impactful nature of weather, having the right tools that collect accurate data like our WatchDog® Weather Stations will help turf managers and golf course superintendents take advantage of degree days for determining the most effective, data-driven application schedule of PGRs.