One of the problems that is not realized during this extended dry period is the fact that the winter rains haven't come and flushed out all of the salts that accumulated in the soil after a season of irrigation. This flushing allows our bare turf areas that turned because of salt stress to recover. To give a numerical number to describe the problem, our fairway soils this time last year had an average sodium percentage of 2.25ppm. This year the average sodium percentage is 8ppm. With this much sodium in the soil, despite the soil profile being saturated, the plant will take up the sodium causing something called wet wilt.
To begin to address the problem, I need to knock down the sodium. I have taken the steps of applying both gypsum and potassium sulfate to the fairways. The gypsum will help remove some of the sodium in the soil and because potassium is easier for the plant to uptake than the sodium, we should see (we have seen) a positive improvement.
With the sodium problem being addressed, we are now beginning to aerate and fill in voids of turf that were salt stressed last year. This is a difficult task in the sense that it is hard to keep such small areas of turf moist throughout the day and using the sprinklers is an incredibly inefficient use of our water.
To solve this problem, I turned to a page from my first year in turf back home in Michigan and that was to fill up the sprayer and go water the small spots. While it eats up labor hours, 100% of the water is going where we need it and it is actually faster than pulling a hose down the fairway like you see us do for dry spots.