The widespread flooding in Thailand has covered millions of hectares. These images from satellite photos taken on October 24 (downloaded from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research website, then cropped and annotated by me), show a few of the golf courses at Pathum Thani and Ayudhaya.
Yesterday on a flight departing Bangkok I flew over much of the flooded area in central Thailand. Riverdale Golf Club was still dry (above), but the adjacent 27 holes at Bangkok Golf Club are all flooded. See below for the normally sedate appearance of Bangkok GC (July 2009).
Many of the courses around Bangkok are flooded or are at risk of inundation during these floods, as are many areas of the city. Here are dramatic images of the flooding in a photo gallery from The Atlantic. For the golf courses that are flooded, I expect the grass to survive. Fortunately, the warm-season grasses that are used at courses around Bangkok, zoysia, bermuda, and seashore paspalum, are able to tolerate weeks and even months of submersion. Dr. Jack Fry's paper Submersion Tolerance of Warm-season Turfgrasses explains that zoysia and bermuda can survive for two or three months under water. Research at Singapore found that seashore paspalum tolerated waterlogging and it is expected to recover as well once the flood waters recede.
In October 2006, when the Asian Turfgrass Center was being constructed at Bangsai GC in Ayuddhaya province north of Bangkok, floodwaters from the same river overflowed their banks and it was necessary to increase the height of the dike wall around the research area (right). That dike wall has been raised again, and it was raised yet again this year to protect the property from the floods.
Now five years later, the course is again at the risk of flooding but the higher flood barriers around it have so far protected the course from the rising waters. I flew over Ayuddhaya yesterday, and one can see the 27 holes at Bangsai, the only dry land for kilometers in the flooded Chao Praya basin.
I've uploaded eight articles to complete year three of the series I write about turfgrass science for Golf Course Seminar (ゴルフ場セミナー) magazine. There are now 36 articles from this series available for download.
What are these articles all about? The eight articles just uploaded deal with reducing stress on the grass and developing a system of golf course maintenance based on controlling the growth rate of the grass.
The figure at right, from the October 2010 issue, shows the growth response of creeping bentgrass to increased nitrogen application, based on research by Kussow and Houlihan at the University of Wisconsin, and demonstrates that creeping bentgrass growth is perpetually limited by nitrogen application rate.
These articles also discuss how to evaluate the seasonal growing patterns and stress periods based on the growth potential model of Drs. Gelernter and Stowell of PACE Turf. The figure at right is from the November 2010 issue and shows the calculated growth potential for Tokyo based on average monthly weather data.
These articles are translated expertly by Mr. Yukio Ueno, and they are read by greenkeepers and course maintenance workers all over Japan. I'm writing the fourth series now, which is focusing on international case studies that will be of interest to Japanese greenkeepers.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Oregon State University to teach one session of Dr. Rob Golembiewski's Principles of Turfgrass Maintenance class. In the morning lecture, I spoke about turfgrass maintenance in Asia and what some of the distinguishing differences are compared with typical turfgrass management in the Pacific Northwest. In the afternoon, I met with the turf club to discuss internships, career opportunities, and some of the interesting things about working in the turfgrass industry in Asia.
I also visited the turfgrass research farm and saw the various grasses and experimental trials. Brian McDonald is the research assistant for turf management at OSU and he showed me some of the interesting research being done with fertilizer trials, fungicides, herbicides, mowing and rolling, irrigation, grass variety trials, divot recovery, and even some seashore paspalum research. My interest in turfgrass research started when I did earthworm control and herbicide research at this farm in 1998, just before graduating from OSU.
The amount of research being done now is impressive and I got to see a lot of Poa annua, perennial ryegrass, red thread, pink snow mold, brown blight -- all grasses or diseases that I don't see all the time when I am working with warm-season grasses. Every time I got down for a close inspection of grass disease symptoms, June the Research Cat came over to say hello. She is, I'm informed, the farm's environmentally-friendly method of rodent control.
The state of Oregon on the West Coast of the United States is well-known for cool-season grass seed production. From ryegrass to kentucky bluegrass, bentgrass to fine fescue, there are vast fields of grass seed in Oregon. But these are all cool-season plants that grow in temperate climates. So I was quite surprised when I visited Dr. Virginia Lehman and Dr. Milt Engelke last week, on their farm in the Willamette Valley, to find fields planted to zoysiagrass and bermudagrass. Breeding work is underway with these grasses here, not so much for the Oregon market, but for eventual use in the warm-season and tropical areas where these grasses thrive.
Turfgrass breeding is a fascinating subject, and I learned a lot about how zoysia and bermuda varieties are developed, grown, and marketed. Dr. Engelke showed me a tray of Diamond zoysiagrass with its extensive rhizomes and we discussed the management of zoysia for various turfgrass uses.
Zoysia is native to East and Southeast Asia and I am accustomed to seeing it growing in the wild and in managed sites across Asia. To see new types of zoysia in my home state of Oregon was both a surprise and a treat, especially so because I had a chance to discuss this grass with the scientists who are working to develop even better varieties of this species.
This chart shows a selection of world cities, plotted by their average temperature, precipitation, and sunshine hours for the month of October. An interactive and customizable chart with the climatological data is here.
In October, the temperatures in much of East Asia are at an optimum for cool-season grass growth. Shanghai, Osaka, and Tokyo finally see their average temperature move less than that of San Diego after a long summer. The Japan Open is held in the middle of October every year, an ideal time considering the weather and the typical playing of the event on a course with creeping bentgrass greens.
In South and Southeast Asia, we can again see that there is more precipitation and less sunlight than in American cities with similar temperatures. October and November mark the end of the rainy season at places such as Bangkok and Kolkata, moving into the drier and sunnier months of the northern hemisphere winter.