Morning vs. Afternoon Shade for Cool Season Grass

Some months ago, we discussed morning sun and its importance for cool season grass.

I mentioned that I have a hypothesis about timing of light, one that goes something like this:

The most important time for full sunlight to reach a turfgrass surface corresponds to the optimum temperatures for photosynthesis for that species. More specifically, the longer the duration of time at which the PPFD on the turf surface is near the maximum the grass can use, while at the same time the air temperature is close to an optimum for photosynthesis, will optimize turf performance.

For cool season (C3) grass, I expect morning sun to be relatively more important than afternoon sun, because the temperatures in the morning will tend to be more suitable for photosynthesis than afternoon temperatures when it may be too hot. Note that this will vary based on where one is located. If the high temperatures in the afternoon are just right for C3 growth, then for that location I predict afternoon sun would be more important than morning sun.

To test this hypothesis, I downloaded the temperatures and sunshine hours for Mobara, Japan, in 10 minute increments from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014. Then I calculated the temperature-based growth potential (GP) for each 10 minute increment of the year, and I used the Ångström equation to calculate the PPFD. Then I selected only those increments during which the GP was greater than or equal to (>=) 0.5 and the PPFD was >= 0.5 of the the maximum potential PPFD for that time. Those times are shown in this chart, representing 62,870 total minutes during 2014.

You'll notice that there are not many times in the winter with low PPFD on this chart. that is because the temperatures at Mobara on winter mornings would tend to be too cold for GP to be above 0.5, so the times with warm enough temperatures to have GP above 0.5 will correspond with times of the day when PPFD is relatively high.

You can also notice that in July and August, there are not many times shown with a high PPFD. That is because it is so hot at Mobara in those months that the afternoon times, with a high PPFD, will have a GP below 0.5, and thus those 10 minute increments are not shown.

To simulate morning shade, I then reduced the PPFD by 80% for all times before 10 a.m. That reduces the amount of time with both GP and PPFD above 0.5 of their potential by 33%, from 62,870 minutes to 42,220 minutes. The simulated morning shade before 10 a.m. is shown in this chart.

One loses all the summer morning points, because by the time the shade is gone at 10 a.m. in Mobara, the temperatures are so hot that the C3 GP is less than 0.5.

Afternoon shade is not desirable either, but it is better than morning shade if there is a climate like Mobara. With simulated afternoon shade reducing PPFD by 80% for all times after 14:00, there is a 19% reduction in hours meeting the GP & PPFD cutoffs of 0.5 or more of potential. Compared to no artificial shade, the morning shade before 10:00 reduced the time for optimum growth by 33%, and the afternoon shade reduced the time for optimum growth bv 19%. This chart shows the afternoon shade.


Soil test summaries in Kentucky

Selection_091The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service puts out some great material. You'll be familiar with the popular guide to control of turfgrass diseases. More recently, I read Fertilizing Your Lawn by Gregg Munshaw.

It's an excellent guide, and one I hope will feature an updated spelling of phosphorus in the next edition.

As I read, this passage caught my attention:

Recent summaries of Kentucky soil test results have revealed that more than 50 percent of homeowner turf soil samples test high or above for phosphorus and potassium. If the soil test results reveal that phosphorus and potassium are adequate, there is no need to apply more of these nutrients.

I'm always interested in summaries of soil test results, so I searched for those data, and found these summaries.  The median pH of the 8,299 lawn samples analyzed in the 3 year period of 2005 to 2007 was 6.4. The data are given in lbs/acre, and I divided by 2 to get ppm. These are the median values from the Mehlich 3 extractant.

elementmedian value (ppm)
K 157
P 36
Ca 1935
Mg 219
Zn 2.7

The University of Kentucky have their own recommendations and they seem quite reasonable. From 0 to 1 lb K2O and P2O5 will be recommended when the soil test K is 100 to 150 ppm and when the soil test P is 15 to 30 ppm, respectively. If the soil test K is more than 150 ppm, no K is recommended. If the soil test P is more than 30 ppm, no P will be recommended.


Can you imagine?

At Real Club de Golf El Prat, host of this week's Spanish Open, 3,600 trees fell in a violent windstorm on 9 December. The club has shared this video that shows the scale of the damage, and the impressive work that was done in the aftermath of the storm.

RCGEP Viento diciembre from Real Club de Golf El Prat on Vimeo.

That the playing surfaces are in such fine condition this week, after having to deal with the storm damage and all the disruption that caused, shows the skill and effort of the greenkeeping staff at the club.

Ten
View from the 10th tee

Tee
At the 1st tee, 6 months after the storm that felled 3,600 trees

Fwy
Creeping bentgrass on the 1st fairway at Real Club de Golf El Prat


Relative effect of shade in Hamburg

As a continuation of these calculations I made about light, temperature, and shade influence on growth in Mobara, I have made another round of calculations for Hamburg.

I've used 2014 weather data for both locations. For Mobara, the data are more precise, because I used 10 minute intervals of temperature through the year, and I accounted for the reduction of clouds on PPFD based on minute by minute measurements of bright sunshine, collected into 10 minute intervals for a year. For Hamburg, I used hourly temperature data, and I did not attempt to account for the cloud cover, so the results shown here are as if every day were sunny with no clouds.

The summary of the data from Mobara showed that afternoon shade, starting 2 hours after solar noon, will reduce PPFD when temperatures are good for C3 grass growth more than morning shade during the months of October to April. Morning shade, from sunrise until 2 hours before solar noon, would be worse than afternoon shade from May to September.

How about in Hamburg?

First, I calculated the estimated average PPFD for every second at each hour of every day. This is 15 May 2014, as an example.

Daily

Then for every hour between sunrise and sunset, I calculated the GP for C3 grasses based on the hourly temperature. That gives this result, which is the GP on an hourly basis throughout the year.

Yearly_gp

Most of the hours in which GP is above 0.5 are from March to October. That makes sense, because the cold winter temperatures in Hamburg are not very good for grass to grow.

Then, I chose 0.5 GP as a cutoff for what I would consider good growing conditions for C3 grass, and I plotted the hourly average PPFD, for a sunny day with no clouds, for each of those hours with a GP greater than or equal to 0.5. In total, this comes to 2,279 hours in the year.

Full_sun_annual

Finally, I simulated morning or afternoon shade by reducing PPFD by 80% from sunrise to 2 hours before solar noon (morning shade) or from 2 hours after solar noon until sunset (afternoon shade). The result is similar to Mobara.

Am_pm_hamburg

Of course, full sun, with no shade, is best. Any type of shade is going to reduce the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). But by making the calculations for every hour of the year, based on the temperature during that hour, one can predict the relative effect of afternoon or morning shade. In July, August, and September, morning shade at Hamburg should be more detrimental to the grass than afternoon shade. In the autumn it doesn't matter. Both shade timings are equally detrimental. In December, January, and February, it is so cold that there isn't any useful PAR at temperatures when the grass can grow well. And in March and April, afternoon shade is more detrimental than morning shade.


Another availability question: P & K & MLSN

In this presentation, I explained how one can determine turfgrass nutrient requirements by estimating turf nutrient use and comparing that to the amount of the nutrient in the soil.

One of the questions during the presentation involved nutrient availability, specifically of P and K. To paraphrase, the question was "How can one know that the P and K measured by the soil test, and compared to the MLSN guideline, are available to the grass?"

One can know the availability by doing a soil test because that is what a soil test is. A soil test is measuring the availability index of an element. When there is a lower amount of an element, there is less of it available to the grass, and when there is a higher amount of an element, there is more of it available. The MLSN guidelines are set at a level that we are confident is more than enough availability to produce good turfgrass.


Physiological effects of pigments and related products

Pigment
A correspondent wrote:

Hi Dr. Woods-
 
I seem to recall you doing a post a while back about the physiological effects of pigments and related products .... [I wondered] whether there is any physiological basis to these claims ... [can you] send me the link to your old post (if it exists), or if I am in fact imagining that article whether you'd consider doing a new post about the purported effects of UV blockers.
I didn't do a blog post about it, but I recall sharing a few links on Twitter. My first thoughts on this topic, without reading anything about it, were:
  1. Putting a pigment that makes the grass look greener will make the grass look greener, but what other benefits are there, and are other benefits confused with the color?
  2. Grass is adapted to growth in sun, and grows better in full sun, doesn't it?
  3. I've heard good things from turf managers who have used pigments, but I still go back to point 1.

I've read a bit more about this, and can recommend these articles for those who want to study this a bit more. Here are links, along with a quote from each:

  • Protecting turf from the sun's rays by Danneberger in Golfdom: After asking about many of the things that synthetic pigments may do: "These are just a few of the questions that we don't have a lot of turf science to know. The good news is, research is being conducted across the country to answer these and several other questions."
  • Petrella et al. on The potential photoprotective ability of copper pthalocyanine: Chlorinated copper phthalocyanine (Pigment green 7) was applied to creeping bentgrass.  "High concentrations of green 7 provide photoprotection. Not only do concentrated applications of green 7 increase photochemical efficiency, but data also show a significant increase in total chlorophyll without a shift in chlorophyll a:b. Morphological changes have also been visible; plots treated with higher concentrations of green 7 are physically more dense and produce greater biomass."
  • Is the grass really greener by McCarty et al. in GCM: "After application, these products often provide a temporary visually appealing green color that masks imperfections on the turfgrass surface. In reality, long-term continued application of many of these products may actually have a negative effect on the turfgrass such as increasing surface temperatures and decreasing carbon-dioxide exchange (photosynthetic efficiency).

    The influence of these products on winter hardiness of hybrid bermudagrass putting greens is still under investigation. As photosynthetic properties of bermudagrass (a warmseason [C4] turfgrass) are different from those of bentgrass (a cool-season [C3] turfgrass), we cannot assume pigment-containing products have similar effects on bermudagrass based on results obtained through studies of creeping bentgrass." -- In this experiment, a number of products were used. One of those was TurfScreen, and it was applied at a higher than label rate.

  • Reducing ultraviolet-B radiation affects dollar spot development under field conditions by Benelli et al.: Dollar spot incidence and severity were evaluated on creeping bentgrass to which UV was transmitted (UV+) and to which UV was blocked (UV-). "During both years, the UVB- plots exhibited significantly greater dollar spot incidence and severity on most rating dates compared to the UVB+ plots."

After reading these, and a bit more, it seems there could be something to it. UV light can be bad for grass (a bad thing), and UV light can be bad for dollar spot (a good thing, unless one has blocked the UV light!). It is interesting to follow the ongoing research on this topic, and I'm especially interested to learn more about the effect sizes of measures related to turf performance in the field when managed with pigments or UV blockers, compared to turf managed without.

After evaluating three pigmented products, this was the conclusion of McCarty et al.: "Turfgrasses almost always exhibit certain levels of stress, especially when grown outside of native environments. For now, superintendents are better served by adhering to traditional practices of proper aerification, fertilization and watering of putting greens."


MLSN webinar on TurfNet

Selection_002

The recorded webinar MLSN Guidelines: what they are, and how to use them is now available for viewing in the TurfNet webinar archives.

Direct link to watch the MLSN Guidelines webinar.

There were some questions about how to convert the results from other testing methods to an equivalent value by the Mehlich 3 extraction method. I am going to prepare an explanatory document about this topic, but for now, please see this link:

Conversion equations from the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear program

Here are direct links to other websites I mentioned in the webinar:


Monthly Turfgrass Roundup: April 2015

Here's a roundup of turfgrass articles and links from the past month:

Bill Kreuser with this TurfNet webinar on Making Soil Tests Work for You.

He also wrote about plant growth regulators on putting greens for the USGA Green Section Record.

Darius Oliver with this photo from South Cape Owners Club:

I wrote about salt in irrigation water for GCM China.

Is annual N a useful measurement?

Dave Wilber with this magnificent advice on succeeding at work.

Seminar questions: availability of nutrients, and foliar applications with soil guidelines.

Glen Obear's presentation about iron-cemented layers in putting greens:

Precision fertilization from STERF is almost identical to MLSN.

Jason Haines shared his latest results from the Global Soil Survey.

What are normal levels of soil phosphorus in turf soils?

Scott McElroy with this photo showing the best non-chemical weed control:

Some thoughts on fast and slow release fertilizers.

Paul Jansen on the design and construction of golf courses from start to finish.

For more about turfgrass management, browse articles available for download on the ATC Turfgrass Information page, subscribe to this blog by e-mail or with an RSS reader - I use Feedly, or follow asianturfgrass on Twitter. Link and article roundups from previous months are here.