River Course Conditions – Transition Q&A


Q: What is cause of the current fairway turf conditions on our River Course?

A: This is the period of “Transition” from ryegrass – a cool season turf to bermudagrass – a warm season turf. The onset of transition is rapid this year because of the weather and bermudagrass winterkill that is widespread in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. On our River Course this bermudagrass winterkill was hidden by ryegrass through the Kingsmill Championship and until the rapid onset of summer like weather that began to kill the ryegrass. The very hot, humid, wet weather during and after the Kingsmill Championship this year promoted conditions for rapid ryegrass death. Each year the timing of transition may be a little different.  In 2017 favorable weather for healthy ryegrass lasted through June.


Q: Does overseeding with ryegrass increase the severity of winterkill?

A: Yes. Shade is one of the greatest multipliers of winterkill. We typically think of trees when we think of shade. On the River Course the biggest source of shade on the bermudagrass is the ryegrass that we overseed with for the cooler months. The effects of shade start with the lack of energy production that weakens the overall health leaving the turf more susceptible to winter stress. For the River Course this begins in the very early fall when we prep for our ryegrass for overseed. We must weaken the bermudagrass so that the ryegrass has a competitive edge to establish as the dominant winter grass. The shade of the ryegrass also increases the duration of wetness and leads to crown hydration that is deadly to turf during periods of freezing temperatures. This shade from the ryegrass will also prolong the duration of freezing temperatures when they occur.


Q: Why do we overseed our bermudagrass with ryegrass on the River Course?

A: Establishing a winter grass that is actively growing / thriving allows us to provide different playing conditions in the cooler months and assist us in providing tournament conditions for KMC even in years of cold spring temperatures.


Q: What are the negatives to overseeding?

A: Transition – the process and period of changing from ryegrass – a cool season turf to bermudagrass – a warm season turf. This transition period brings less favorable playing conditions for 4-8 weeks in summer and is a price that we pay for improved winter conditions.


Q: What is the best time to transition in our region and why do we transition later at Kingsmill?

A: The best time to transition is as the bermudagrass breaks dormancy in early-mid spring. This timing would allow for a gradual chemical transition that is less influenced by weather. We must promote ryegrass growth and dominance through the Kingsmill Championship in effort to produce the best tournament conditions.


Q: What is the length / timing of the transition going forward this year?

A: We have already begun sodding areas and will continue. We have already begun fertilizing areas to promote growth. We will need to aerify fairways and sprig as needed to increase the turf coverage. This transition / grow-in period will last 6-8 weeks.


Thank you for reading this update and sharing this information,

Kingsmill Agronomy



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