From mild to wild, unusual weather forces turf pros to expect the unexpected.

From mild to wild, unusual weather forces turf pros to expect the unexpected.

As the Turf and Ornamental Market Specialist for FMC Professional Solutions in the Southeast region, I’ve witnessed firsthand a very strange 2012 thus far. The year began with one of the mildest, shortest winters I can remember. Now we are in the midst of one of the calmest and longest springs in recent memory. What’s more, over the past few years the Deep South has become accustomed to multiple snowfalls in January and February, followed by a brief spring and then tortuous summer heat!

Although mild overall temperatures may seem desirable, they can present a catch-22 of sorts. At this point, golf course superintendents who maintain bentgrass greens are happy that we’re still experiencing 77° F days with a mild breeze to boot. Their turf is healthy, their root systems are still intact and their fungicide usage is down. But what about the ultra-dwarf Bermuda courses? Bermudagrass needs warm days and nights to thrive along with plenty of sunlight. Unfortunately for these superintendents, the mild days accompanied by overcast skies prevent precious sunlight from reaching their Bermuda greens.

Despite the money I saved from my home’s gas heater staying dormant for most of January and February, Old Man Winter still plays a vital role in our ecosystem. Cold weather helps maintain pest populations and keeps spring and summer weeds at bay. Whether you typically deal with aphids, mosquitoes, army worms, fire ants or beetles, insect populations are expected to grow this year due to the mild winter we recently experienced. This affects LCO, golf and nursery budgets as more insecticides have to be sprayed. The same is happening with herbicides as well. Not only have winter weeds hung around longer than usual (I’m looking at you Poa!), but crabgrass also germinated early this year. These increased populations — coupled with ordinary rising costs — are wreaking havoc on already tight budgets.

Unusual weather can be a good or bad thing depending upon your individual situation and market. And although you can’t affect the weather, you can always do your best to prepare by following the old adage, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst, and capitalize on what comes.”

What kind of strange weather conditions have you dealt with so far in 2012? What are some of the things you’ve done to adapt? And finally, what do you expect going forward? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a tweet @FMCturf.

About the Author: Mike Kellum
Mike Kellum is a Turf and Ornamental Market Specialist for FMC Professional Solutions, serving Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. A proud graduate of Mississippi State University, Mike and his wife Jan have two sons – Ethan and AJ – whom they enjoy watching play football and baseball. Mike can be reached via email or on Twitter @MikeKellum.