By Ryan Schwab
The establishment of no mow areas on golf courses is gaining popularity. In Minnesota, fine fescues are typically the species chosen due to their low-input characteristics. Fine fescues grow slowly, and they generally have low nutrient and water requirements, all of which saves golf course resources. They also may provide the desirable aesthetics of a waving pasture with gold-frosted seed heads, which is quite the contrast from the well-manicured playing surfaces of fairways and greens (Figure 1).
The University of Minnesota Turfgrass Science Team has partnered with the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association (MGCSA) to perform on-site research determined by the members themselves. As part of this project, we conducted a study at the Rush Creek Golf Club in 2017. We examined the following research question: Will early spring paclobutrazol applications eliminate annual bluegrass?
Paclobutrazol is a plant growth regulator used to inhibit annual bluegrass (Poa annua) growth. This suppression makes the desirable turfgrasses more competitive, allowing them to crowd out the weedy annual bluegrass.
When warm February weather occurs in Minnesota, it can cause damage to annual bluegrass. We partnered with a MGCSA member to investigate whether warm February temperatures, in combination with an application of paclobutrazol, would give us the opportunity to push annual bluegrass over the edge and eliminate it from putting surfaces.