Golf course turf up close

A More Reliable Approach to Preventing Weeds

Proper timing is everything when it comes to golf course weed management

Ditch the Calendar Approach; Manage Weeds Effectively

Weeds are unpredictable. Some years your course looks great, and others you wonder why you're spending as much as $5,000 to $20,000 annually on products that don't always seem to work the way they should.

But here's the crux: The problem isn't the products; it's the timing around when the products are being used.

Why the Calendar Approach Doesn't Work

It's all about timing. Many superintendents schedule weed applications and pre-emergent herbicides around the same day every year. They mark the calendar and get it done. Some years it works and some years it doesn't. Why? Because weeds don't schedule their germination based on a date on the calendar. For reliable results, base your weed management on the weed's schedule, not the calendar. But first, you'll need some insight into the lifecycle of the weeds.

Golf Course Greens Receiving Pre-emergent Application
Use Growing Degree Days to plan pre-emergent treatments for the best results.

The Secret to Effective Weed Management

Like other plants, weeds need sunlight, water, and optimum temperatures to grow. In fact, weed seeds require a specific soil temperature to germinate. In the spring, air and soil temperatures increase, which triggers the germination of crabgrass, goosegrass, and other annual summer weeds. This increase in temperature can be tracked using Growing Degree Days, a measure of heat accumulation.

The number of days and the optimum temperatures vary depending on the type of weed. However, when you track Growing Degree Days, you can accurately predict when your weed seeds will germinate. This in turn, lets you determine when you need to apply your pre-emergent herbicides.

The variance between using a calendar date versus Growing Degree Days can be anywhere from a week to over a month. This variance can make all the difference when it comes to effective weed management and successful golf course maintenance.

Get the Data for Growing Degree Days

Even though using Growing Degree Days is the only way to be certain your weed control program is on the right schedule, a mere minority of golf superintendents actually use this system. And with good reason - it's a lot of work!

That's why BrightView partnered with experts at Michigan State University to develop a way to automate the process. Together, we created a system that provides every BrightView Superintendent with access to a website where they can see real-time, environmental data on accumulated Growing Degree Days and soil temperature specific to their golf course.

The system also allows BrightView Superintendents to compare previous years' agronomic programs to historical Growing Degree data along with the results. By doing so they can learn what worked and didn't work the previous year and why. Our PhD Agronomists work side-by-side with BrightView Superintendents to interpret the data and develop a plan. Additionally, tracking Growing Degree Days is important for several turf diseases and insect management. 

Not every course has BrightView on their team, but you can certainly start tracking Growing Degree Days on your own. Just remember, meticulously measuring and recording is key to getting your weed control program on schedule and preventing weeds from growing on your golf course. 

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