The Asian Turfgrass Roadshow 2012 started with a seminar at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore, host site for the European Tour’s Singapore Open. Dr. John Kaminski, with only a few hours of sleep after his travel from the other side of the world, exactly twelve time zones away, gave two lively and coffee-fueled presentations, while I spoke about turfgrass research results from projects I have been involved with in Asia over the past six years.
One of those projects involves bermudagrass white leaf, which I have called the most unsightly disease in the world, and I explained how plants infected with the phytoplasma will die in less than three months, how we have observed that common varieties of Cynodon dactylon (including seeded types) seem to be more susceptible than are hybrid bermudagrasses, and that, with good management, the problem tends to go away within a few years.
I spoke at length about the recent research I have been doing on the relationship between climatological normal data and turfgrass performance. One of the distinct differences between warm-season areas of the United States and warm-season areas of Asia is the difference in sunshine hours. Miami, for example, has 56% more sunshine hours each month, on average, than does Singapore. This difference in light, I explained during the seminar, has a tremendous impact on photosynthesis and on the turfgrass species that should be grown in Singapore.
We spent the afternoon at the Singapore HortPark and Botanical Gardens, where we saw that manilagrass grows well as a managed turf, while bermudagrass planted at the same time does not perform well; I would suggest that the difference in performance can be attributed to the differences in light.
We moved to Bangkok on the first of many international flights we would take as part of this trip, where we saw manilagrass thriving in landscape plantings around the Grand Palace. Our seminar at Bangkok was at Thana City Golf Club, a course that was planted to bermudagrass in the 1990′s but that has now naturally been taken over by manilagrass. At this seminar, I spoke about the effect of lightweight rolling on green speed and on surface firmness, based on measurements I’ve made on creeping bentgrass and seashore paspalum putting greens in Asia. In short, I’ve measured a 20% increase in green speed immediately after rolling, with a 1% increase in surface hardness, as measured by a Clegg Hammer, after that same amount of rolling.
We enjoyed sunshine at Bangkok, as we would expect for April during the sunniest time of the year at this city. The rainy season is approaching however, which will cause the sunshine hours to drop close to the Singapore normal levels. Miami, as a reference, averages 263 hours of sunshine each month, and during the summer has almost 300 hours of sun each month. Thus, there was rapt attention from the audience as Dr. Kaminski described his research results in the management of algae, which is a problem on low cut turfgrass throughout East and Southeast Asia.