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A More Reliable Approach to Preventing Weeds

A More Reliable Approach to Preventing Weeds

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Ditch the calendar approach. Manage weeds effectively.

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

But here’s the crux: The problem isn’t the product. The problem is when the product is used.

Why the Calendar Approach Doesn’t Work

It’s all about timing. Many superintendents schedule weed applications (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 in the calendar. So, managing weeds with reliable results requires management based on the weed’s schedule, not the calendar, and in order to do that you need insight into the mysterious life of weeds.

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 temperatures and soil temperatures increase which trigger the germination of crabgrass, goosegrass and other summer annual weeds. This increase in air and soil temperatures can be tracked using Growing Degree Days, a measure of heat accumulation.

The number of days and optimum temperatures varies depending on the type of weed. But, when you track Growing Degree Days, you can accurately predict when your weed seeds will germinate and that is how you determine when you need to apply your pre-emergent herbicides.

The variance between using a calendar date versus Growing Degree Days can be weeks to over a month, and that scheduling shift can make all the difference in effective weed management and successful golf course maintenance.

Get the Data for Growing Degree Days

Even though using Growing Degree Days in the only way to be certain your weed control program is on the right schedule, a mere minority of superintendents use this system. And for 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, so they can learn what worked and didn’t work the previous years and why. Our PhD Agronomists work side-by-side with BrightView Superintendents to interpret the data and develop a plan. Growing Degree Day tracking is important for several turf diseases and insects as well.

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 on your golf course.

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