Turfgrass Talk Show at GIS spotlights wetting agents

By |  February 29, 2012

By Marty Whitford / Golfdom Editorial Director

Wetting agents have earned their place in the golf market, according to the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America’s (GCSAA’s) Turfgrass Talk Show this morning at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Las Vegas.

Hosted by Thomas Nikolai, Ph.D., a turfgrass academic specialist with Michigan State University, today’s Turfgrass Talk Show on wetting agents embodied “infotainment.”

Although guests of the Turfgrass Talk Show varied in their use and support of wetting agents, all agreed it’s more a question of when, where, how and how often to use the solutions.

Guests of GCSAA’s Turfgrass Talk Show on wetting agents included:

* Rodney Tocco Jr., a research assistant and doctoral student at Michigan State University;

* Douglas Karcher, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas;

* Matthew Taylor, CGCS, director of golf for the Royal Poinciana Golf Club; and

* Michael Morris, CGCS, a golf course superintendent with the Crystal Downs Country Club.

“I haven’t bought into the need for a full-blown wetting agent program yet, but we do use wetting agents on our greens during certain times of the year,” says Taylor, who oversees 36 holes in Naples, Fla.

Taylor adds that wetting agents help combat localized dry spots and deal with drought conditions and related water-use restrictions.

Morris agrees, noting he is somewhat skeptical of some of the water- and money-savings claims made by some wetting agent manufacturers.

“On greens, wetting agents serve as a bridge between waxy sand coatings and water — improving water droplet penetration,” Karcher notes.

“To improve turf quality and playing surfaces, we can either water every day or cut back some on irrigation and use wetting agents,” Karcher adds. “Some wetting agents have improved their residual so, in some cases, the need to apply them can be reduced from every two to three weeks to just a few times a season.”

Tocco concurs that several applications of a wetting agent can help control localized dry spots and enhance soil moisture levels.

“Wetting agents clearly are one of the many tools we have to enhance turf quality,” Nickolai concludes.

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