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New! ‘Clippings’ podcast

We’re pleased to announce the launch of the Cornell Turfgrass Clippings Podcast.

The new podcast offers practical suggestions and cutting-edge tips from Cornell University Turf Guy Dr. Frank Rossi for professionals in the lawn, golf and sports turf industry in New York State and surrounding areas.

Initial topics include:

For more information, see our podcast page.

Subscribe (free):

Rossi receives lifetime achievement award

Reid award for RossiThe Metropolitan Golf Course Superintendents Association (MetGCSA) presented its John Reid Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank Rossi, turf specialist and associate professor in the Horticulture Section, at its January 18 Winter Seminar. The award recognizes individuals or organizations that, through continuing commitment, show exemplary support to the game of golf and golf course superintendents.

The group recognized Rossi’s contributions to the game through his “unending environmental leadership and research, his high regard for and support of our fellow superintendents, and his ability to captivate an audience.”

Read more in Tee to Green.

 

What we can learn from the worlds best sports teams

Think of all of the excellent sports teams out there in 2016. The Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Cubs, the New England Patriots. What do they have in common?

Of course, they have great players and coaches, a pre-requisite to greatness. However, you will also find these teams were the first, and most eager to incorporate data and analytics into their organizational system.

For the past couple weeks, we have used our Twitter account to highlight many ways to collect data on Turf landscapes. Examples of the many aspects of turf management we covered were irrigation, soil nutrients, turfgrass varieties. Our goal was to expose people to the world of data collection, and show them that the ability to quantify things is out there and readily available.

We understand that the transitional process in accepting and analyzing data is a tough one to make. We are not disillusioned into thinking that by this time next year, you will be optimizing your entire operation using second order derivations of economic opportunity cost formulas. No, we are simply hoping that beginning data collection in even the smallest way will give you the momentum you need to create a snowball effect.

We would suggest starting small. Perhaps you could begin your data collection voyage by keeping basic weather data from a local weather station, like daily maximum and minimum temperature, and precipitation. Or, you could keep records of your pesticide and fertilizer applications in a computer program like Excel. When you notice a disease outbreak, you have the ability to go back and check when the last time you applied Product X was, or what the weather conditions were like leading up to the outbreak. This feedback loop, made possible by data collection, allows you make adjustments for future management decisions.

Consulting the data will give you added confidence when making decisions. No longer will you rely on “gut feelings” or what your friend down the road told you they did. You will be able to make informed decisions specific to your turf landscape, supported by facts.

As an example, say you are a golf course superintendent looking to justify your management decisions to the membership or owner. Perhaps you got soil sample results that showed organic matter levels are higher than you would like. You could go to ownership and reference your soil samples, and research that shows that high organic matter leads to increased disease probability in order to convince them of the need to conduct aggressive cultural practices. They will be more inclined to accept the minor disruptions in play if data is incorporated into your line of reasoning for such practices.

For those who are already a part of the data revolution, there are many advanced technologies in existence that can potentially revolutionize your operation. A particular technology we are intrigued by is called FAIRWAYiQ. FAIRWAYiQ is a tracking system designed to track the movement of every person on a golf course using smart tags. Every golf cart, player, worker, and piece of equipment can be tracked using an antenna router mounted a few stories in the air. This tool would rapidly optimize golf course operations. The pro shop could identify specific holes on the course that lead to slow play, and report to the Superintendent who could then make modifications in playability to the hole if necessary. The Superintendent could use the tracking software to monitor the maintenance program, and optimize it for time or fuel savings. The system could even update employees on gaps in play to perform uninterrupted maintenance. FAIRWAYiQ is still in the testing stage, but for more information, visit the FAIRWAYiQ website.

Kirk Lacob is the Assistant GM of the Golden State Warriors. Recently, he said: “Sure, we could run our team without all of the available data. But why would we?”

We can ask that same question to turf managers. Why would you manage a turf landscape without all of the available data? The world of sports revolves around one of the most unpredictable things in the world: human behavior. If they can use numbers to express truths and probabilities in that arena, surely we can do it in turf? What Lacob is really saying here is that there is no argument for not having data.

For the advanced data enthusiast, we encourage you to keep searching for ways to improve. Be a pioneer for others to follow, and constantly search for ways to improve. For the novice data collector, we hope to have convinced you that the term “data” is not something to be scared of. It’s not long lines of computer codes, or complex equations with symbols you’ve never seen before. At it’s core, it’s turning the activities or observations you complete on a daily basis into numbers. It has never been easier to enter the dawn of data, and it’s hard to argue against it’s merits. If you do, remember, the data is on our side…

Forecast weather wrap-up

2016 temperature summary

Overall, the season was as warm as it felt.  From March through May, the Northeast was 2 degrees above average, with April being the only month this year cooler than average. August was very warm at 4 degrees above normal in some areas, as was the Fall, especially for Western NY where it’s been 4-5 degrees above average. Boston and Western NY recorded record numbers for GDD. CNY and Eastern NY did not set records, but were 300-400 GDD above normal. Essentially extending growing season by 2.5 to 3.5 weeks.

2016 moisture summary

From March through August, the Northeast received 50-70% of average precipitation levels. October has been generously wet, with areas in Western and Northern NY getting nearly 2 times the seasonal average for precipitation. While drought conditions have rebounded in western regions, eastern regions are still on the edge and suffering from several seasons of below normal precipitation.

Winter forecast

Climate models have been waffling and now seem to be converging to predict a mild La Nina winter. This suggests a wet and cold winter for the North and Midwest US. While systems can spread east, it is likely the East coast will see fewer storms this winter. Precipitation and cooling will lag a bit, starting later in January, and lasting until the end of March.

For more turf-related weather info and decision-making tools, visit the ForeCast website.

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New video: Long-term pesticide use reduction on urban and recreational landscapes

If you missed Frank Rossi’s Soil and Crop Sciences seminar Long-term pesticide use reduction on urban and recreational landscapes last Thursday, it’s available online.

Variety Guidelines now available as .pdf.

Thinking about starting a new lawn or renovating an old one? Looking for the right grass for your sports fields, fairways or putting greens?  This publication will help you choose the grass species and varieties best adapted to your growing conditions and management.

Download full publication [806 MB .pdf]

Download individual chapters:

Also available on iTunes.

‘Forecast’ weather update for October 21

Weather update for professional turf managers from Frank Rossi:

Temp & GDD

Another warmer than average week at almost 10(!) degrees warmer than normal in Western NY, scaling down to +4 degrees along coastal areas. Still accumulating GDDs. 50-90 from North to South in the region, with around 30-40 in Mass and New England. DC and Philly eclipsed 4000 GDD for the year, while NYC climbed above 3500. Most regions are around 200 GDD ahead of last
year, and 300-400 above normal. Soil temps still in the mid to upper 60’s.

Moisture

Another dry week for much of the region except some of Northern NY, areas received about 0.5” or precipitation. ET is predictably declining as well at about 0.5 “ or less for most regions. Drought areas not expanding but also not decreasing very much.

Forecast

Significant rainfall is expected for next week. Western and Central NY expected to get 2-3 inches. NYC, Boston and Eastern MA to get 1-1.5 inches, while NJ southward should expect about ½”. It is projected to be a cooler than average week for a change, with highs in the 50’s and low 60’s. Conflicting models for long term forecast-cool and wet likely.

For more turf-related weather info and decision-making tools, visit the ForeCast website.

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‘Forecast’ weather update for October 3 – Long Season More Challenges

Weekly weather update for professional turf managers from Frank Rossi:

Temp & GDD

A long awaited return to seasonal temperature averages may have felt cold this past week. Western NY and Eastern PA were still 2-4 degrees above average.  Still accruing GDD, around 120 from NYC southward, and 60-80 in CNY and New England. Soil temps have begun to dip into the high 60’s in southern areas, with low to mid 60’s seen in Western NY and New England and even 50’s in Southern Tier and Albany.

Moisture

Another dry week for most of the region with most receiving <0.25”. Big winners continue to be to the south of the region with the DC area receiving 3” plus. ET remains fairly low so at least we are not losing as much moisture from the system until winds pick up. Drought areas continue to expand especially in coastal New England.

Forecast

Showery and overcast expected for week of 10/3. Potential of 2” in Long Island on up to Cape Cod while Upstate NY to Boston expect 1”. Temp’s projected to be above normal, especially overnight temps in the 50’s and 60’s. 8-14 day models have storm systems working up Atlantic Coast to perhaps NJ before heading East.

For more turf-related weather info and decision-making tools, visit the ForeCast website.

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‘Forecast’ weather update for September 26 – Changing climate is forcing changes in long time recommendations

Weekly weather update for professional turf managers from Frank Rossi:

Temp & GDD

Eleven straight weeks of above normal temperatures. Most 4-6 degrees above normal, with particular stress along the I-95 corridor due to warmer nights. Still accumulating significant GDD numbers between 100-200 when normally NONE. Soil temps are still warm at 2” depth ranging from low to mid 70’s in Washington, to upper 60’s the central and upstate NY regions. This is the longest growing season in 17 years of ShortCUTT.

 

Moisture

Region wide rainfall amounts in general 1-2”, except swath through Central NY, HudValley, and Pioneer Valley where 0.25-0.5”. Soaking rain in South NJ and SW NY at 2” plus. ET is lower, at 0.6” in spite of warm weather, ET is driven primarily by solar radiation that is lower as sun moves down from peak angle.

Forecast

A very dry week expected with “normal” temps that will feel cold. Highs mid 60 – low 70’s. Overnights in the 40’s -50’s. Potential spotty frost on Monday with dry air lowering dew point at night.Atlantic Hurricane systems are not threatening. Long term models call for return to warm and dry for 8-14d outlook.

For more turf-related weather info and decision-making tools, visit the ForeCast website.

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‘Forecast’ weather update for September 19 – Climate it is a changin’

Weekly weather update for professional turf managers from Frank Rossi:

Temp & GDD

Ten straight weeks of above normal temperatures, this week 6-8 above normal region wide. High heat stress and warm evening temps have really been keeping the stress on. Cool nights are more common further north that provide some relief. GDD continue to accumulate at record rates pushing us 2-3 weeks ahead of normal. Soils have cooled some into the low to mid 70’s but still very warm for this time of year.

The persistent warm weather certainly fuels the discussion regarding climate change effects on professional turfgrass and landscape management. We are on pace to end the season 300 plus GDD above normal, that amounts to additional 2-3 weeks of growing season.

Moisture

Another mostly dry week across the region wont most areas recording <0.25”. ET is still 0.75-1”. The lone winner for the week was extreme Western NY, Syracuse and Mohawk Valley with 1-2” plus in some areas. Drought conditions continue to expand in area affected and severity.

Forecast

Expect more warm weather with averages to be 9o above normal for the week. Upper 70’s to upper 80’s for highs lows 50-60 when normals are 60’s and 40’s. Some passing rainfall over the weekend leads us into a another mostly dry week. Topsoil moisture levels will continue to decline and low disease risk.

For more turf-related weather info and decision-making tools, visit the ForeCast website.

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