"Could you tell me?"

Ha Darklight wrote from Hanoi with this question:

Could you tell me, in late autumm, how to apply fertilizer for seashore paspalum grass to prepare for early winter?

In general, for northern Vietnam, I would expect seashore paspalum to use N and K in approximately the amounts shown in this chart.


The expected amounts in the chart are based on the growth potential (GP) for warm-season grass in Hanoi temperatures, with a maximum N for seashore paspalum set at 3 g N/m2/month when the GP is 1, and recognizing that seashore paspalum uses nitrogen and potassium in a 1:1 ratio.

Our conversation continued:

If I take up high levels of K, ex rates of 3

Whether he means 3 g K/m2/month or 3 times more K than N, I don't see how that would be helpful. My exact reply was "Seashore paspalum uses the same amount of K as it does N. You can add more K if you want to, but it won't provide a benefit to the grass."

Then came another good question from Ha:

How does K affects to diseases?

My answer: "Not much effect. If you are severely deficient in K, or apply way too much K, you may increase disease susceptibility. Application of N and K in a 1:1 ratio to paspalum ensures the grass has enough. Also, you should do a soil test to be sure."

Why should one do a soil test? Because if the soil contains a high amount of K, the grass can use that K, using the soil like a nutrient bank, and the amount of K applied as fertilizer can be reduced. Without a soil test, one doesn't know if all the K the grass will use must be applied as fertilizer, or if some portion of the K used by grass will be supplied by the soil.

Three of my favorite projects from Beth Guertal's Research Group

Fertilization of bentgrass with commercial foliar products - guertal ats 2010.pdf (page 1 of 10)
I was excited to read the press release from AGIF and GCSAA last week announcing that Beth Guertal will be teaching in September at events in the Philippines and Vietnam. I've always enjoyed studying the research she does, and these seminars are a great opportunity for learning from one of the world's experts on turfgrass management. 

I'm not sure that she will be talking about these particular experiments, but these are three of my favorites (of the many) from her research group.

  1. Fertilization of bentgrass with commercial foliar products: Greenhouse evaluations. "In most cases foliar application of urea was as effective (for N uptake and dry matter yield) as applying any of the commercial materials."
  2. Potassium Movement and Uptake as Affected by Potassium Source and Placement. "Over the 2 year study potassium application had no beneficial effects on turfgrass performance, and acceptable performance was achieved across a wide gradient of K content in soil and leaf tissue. Regardless of soil test K level, no deficiency symptoms were observed."
  3. Fan and syringe application for cooling bentgrass greens. "In general, reductions in the maximum observed temperature occurred in the following order: fan plus syringing, fan only, syringe only, and, no fan/no syringe."

The Best Golfing Destination in Asia

Golf course architect Paul Jansen recently wrote about the great golfing destination of Vietnam, especially Danang, where he was lead architect for Faldo Design at the spectacular Laguna Lang Co:

And while I agree with Paul that Vietnam is a great destination for tourism and for golf, my choice is Hokkaido for the best golfing destination in Asia. My recommendation comes with a caveat - the golfing season in Hokkaido is short. But what a season it is!

  1. Brooks_ccThere are well over 150 golf courses to choose from in Hokkaido, across every price range. Many of the courses are great designs by famous designers for a very reasonable price.
  2. In a country renowned for excellent food, Hokkaido stands out for having some of the best seafood, meat, fruit, and produce. The golfing experience in Japan usually includes a lunch at the clubhouse. At Brooks CC in Hokkaido, I had this amazing seafood ramen. In fact, it was the only ramen I've ever found worthy of a video.
  3. Hokkaido_classicDid I mention the weather? In other parts of East, South, and Southeast Asia, the months of May through October are generally hot and humid and in many places rainy. How about Hokkaido? Well, one can see snow on the distant mountains, in the spring there are cherry blossoms and other flowers, in the autumn there is beautiful color on the deciduous trees, and in mid-summer the average temperature is 20°C, which is almost 10 degrees cooler than other parts of Asia. In a word, I'd call it salubrious. The golfing season at Hokkaido is played in the most clement weather to be found in all of Asia.
  4. Hokkaido_classic_gkThis salubrious weather means cool-season grasses such as creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) and kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and fine fescue (Festuca rubra) thrive in Hokkaido, and its courses are generally maintained at a high level. These grasses are usually considered to be the finest for high quality golfing surfaces the world over, but in many places the climate is too hot for these grasses. At Hokkaido, however, these high-quality grasses thrive. Many professional tournaments are held at the courses in Hokkaido, and in data I have collected from courses around the world, the green speed of courses in Hokkaido has been the highest. The excellent weather for creeping bentgrass means the greens can be kept fast during most of the playing season. 
  5. There is fine dining and a vibrant nightlife in the cities of Hokkaido, while on the courses one will regularly see deer, foxes, a plethora of birds, and even, perhaps, bears. The combination of so many excellent golf courses, nature, great food, and cool weather makes Hokkaido the best golfing destination in Asia - at least from May to October. But at the other times of the year, I'm going to Thailand!


Video Describing Manilagrass Production at Thailand

This video shows how manilagrass (Zoysia matrella) is planted, grown, and harvested on Thailand's sod farms. Manilagrass is used throughout East and Southeast Asia on lawns, parks, golf courses, sports fields, roadsides, and cemeteries. What is especially remarkable about this method of production is the time it takes from planting to harvest. During the summer when the temperatures are at a maximum and the grass can grow quickly, harvestable manilagrass sod is ready 30 days after planting. During winter, when the temperatures are cooler, it takes about 40 days from planting to harvest.

I spoke on this topic at a recent meeting of the Midsouth Turfgrass Council in Memphis. 

Turfgrass Mystery at the sod farm


I recently visited a sod farm in Tennessee and saw these sinkholes in a field of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). After the sod cutter went across the field and the individual pieces of sod were lifted, it became apparent that there was some tall fescue growing below grade.

This machine, shown here harvesting a field of hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon), was used to cut the field of tall fescue.

I asked, "Can you identify what has caused this phenomenon?" There were many responses before the correct answer was given.

Some were close to the answer -- guesses of elephant tracks, water buffalo or horse footprints, groundhog holes, bird scrapings, bear footprints, misaligned aerification holes, fox damage, hail marks, repair plug removal, holes created by worms or insects, or perhaps rock removal from the field. The correct answer was that a cow or cows escaped into this field just after planting, pressing the tall fescue seed down and it remained there, growing in the footprints, until harvesting when those below-grade footprints appeared. Correct answer from Jason Haines below:

My advice is to keep large animals off of sod production fields, although the cows on this manilagrass (Zoysia matrella) sod farm in northern Vietnam, shown below, didn't cause any problems once the turf was established.


A Report on Putting Green Performance Characteristics

From August 2011 to May 2012, I collected data on putting green performance from more than 200 greens on nearly 80 golf courses in seven countries. These data are now summarized in this 24 page report, which has also been expertly translated into Japanese by Mr. Yukio Ueno.

Data_report_en Data_report_jp-1

Webcast from the Australian Turfgrass Conference: Micah Woods on grass selection in Asia

The Australian Golf Course Superintendents' Association provide a great service by making so many of the presentations from their annual conference available for online viewing

At the 27th Australian Turfgrass Conference in Adelaide, I gave presentations about turfgrass nutrient requirements, about grass selection, and about managing turf in microclimates.

In this presentation about grass selection, I spoke primarily about manilagrass (Zoysia matrella), bermudagrass or green couch (Cynodon), and seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum). You'll see in this video representative photos of the different grasses and will learn how manilagrass persists and provides a fine turf even with minimal maintenance. In Southeast Asia, seashore paspalum tends to be overtaken by bermudagrass, you will see, and bermudagrass tends to be overtaken by manilagrass. This short video makes a case for using more manilagrass and less bermudagrass and seashore paspalum.

A Plot of Cities Where Warm-season Grasses Grow, and more

cities plotted by sunshine, temperature, and rainfall

I made the bubble plot above to see how the differences in temperature and sunlight and rainfall between cities would appear if plotted this way. The data are from climatological normals provided by national meteorological services and the World Meteorological Organization, collected in some cases from the climate section of a city's page on Wikipedia.

I made this plot for a few reasons. I saw a job posting for a superintendent position in Asia saying that experience working in a Florida-type climate would be desired, and I wanted to plot a few cities this way to see how cities in Asia compared with Florida. Someone also asked me if I thought it was more difficult to manage warm-season grasses in Singapore or in Florida, and I thought that a plot such as this might make my answer more clear. And I also notice as I travel that a grass that grows so well in Honolulu, for example, may not grow well at all in Bangkok. There are clear differences in suitability of grasses for different growing environments. And as I work with some new software, I saw a tutorial to make this type of bubble plot on the FlowingData website and I wanted to try it for myself.

City_by_sun_edit-1 When plotted this way with mean annual temperature on one axis and hours of sunshine on another axis (the area of the circle for each city is proportional to annual rainfall), one can see that the cities in Asia tend to have a higher annual temperature, have less annual sunshine than the cities plotted from the USA, and have substantially more precipitation. A quick look at the bubble plot shows that Singapore, for example, has about 60% the sunshine of Miami while receiving almost twice the rainfall. 

This doesn't tell the whole story about which grasses perform best in a certain area. We can also consider the winter temperatures, the summer temperatures, the timing of rainfall and dry seasons, etc., but simply plotting by temperature and sunshine tells us a lot. 

Turfgrass managers in Southeast Asia know that zoysiagrass (Zoysia matrella) and broadleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus) thrive in this climate while bermudagrass maintained as a turfgrass struggles. This type of plot helps us to understand why. At the Marukatayawan Palace in Thailand, we see that zoysia grows in the sun and broadleaf carpetgrass covers the shaded areas under the trees.


These native grasses thrive when maintained as turfgrass in this region, while grasses such as bermudagrass which have a higher light requirement cannot compete with zoysia even in full sun. Why is that? Because even in full sun, there is still relatively little sunshine in Southeast Asia compared with Florida.

Collecting Dollar Spot With Dr. Tredway in Southeast Asia

Lane_khao_yai Turfgrass pathologist Dr. Lane Tredway from North Carolina State University recently made a visit to Southeast Asia for the purpose of collecting dollar spot samples. From ATC's Thailand base, we went to Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines to collect dollar spot from many different grass types: bermudagrass, zoysia, seashore paspalum, carpetgrass, creeping bentgrass — even from some sedges. There is not much creeping bentgrass in Southeast Asia but we traveled to high elevations to find it at Dalat in Vietnam, at the spectacular Mount Kinabalu Golf Club in Sabah (below), and at Camp John Hay in Baguio.


Dr. Tredway has chronicled this trip in a post entitled Dollar Spot Expedition to Southeast Asia on the Turf Diseases website

Dollar_paspalum_khaoyai Dollar spot is ubiquitous and is especially so on seashore paspalum turf. This project looks at the different strains of dollar spot as they are found on different grass types and in different geographical and climatic areas. The idea is that a better understanding of the dollar spot pathogen itself will allow for the development of better control measures for this disease in the future.