Fighting drought tolerance, heat stress & wear-and-tear

Golf course

One of the most powerful endorsements a superintendent can give a product line is bringing it with him when he changes jobs. So it is with Ryan Barker and Aquaritin.

Barker is the superintendent at the Tetherow Resort in Bend, Oregon, in the High Desert at an altitude of approximately 3,500 feet. The 18-hole layout was designed by David McLay Kidd, the architect responsible for Brandon Dunes and a former superintendent at Gleneagles in Scotland who makes his home in the area. Open for play since 2008, Tetherow was the first golf course in Oregon to be certified by Audubon International as an Audubon International Certified Signature Sanctuary.

Barker is in his fourth season at the resort, which hosts roughly 20,000 rounds each year; his peak golf season spans late May through October.

Barker’s first experience with the Aquaritin line came when he was employed at the Sunriver Resort, which is located 20 miles south of Tetherow, but at a higher elevation.

(Aquaritin) had a promo,” Barker recalls. “’Try six bottles for free,’ or whatever it was.

At the time Barker was coming off a winter that featured an abundance of snow.

“We had a long time under snow, he said. “Maybe not the greatest golf conditions on the greens. I was looking for something not only coming out of the spring but also going into the winter that would help the plant along.

Aquaritin proved to be the product Barker was looking for. After applying it to his greens, Barker noticed improvement in a number of areas.

Golf course

“Root depth, drought tolerance, heat stress, wear-and tear tolerance, all those little things. (Aquaritin) really helped combat those factors. Little things that people coming out to play probably don’t see. But they drive me crazy.”

In his second season at Tetherow, Barker introduced the Aquaritin line into his agronomic program with goal of fortifying his greens against the forces of Mother Nature;

Rainfall in the area is minimal and the local topography allows for the greens to be exposed to strong winds on a regular basis.

“We peak at 11 inches of rain a year here in the High Desert,” Barker said. “We sit up on a bluff essentially and have no protection from the wind. A few holes do but it’s largely windy and warm most days in the summer. And in the winter as well. We’ve had to pressurize the irrigation system in February because of winter desiccation. The wind just does not stop.

Then there are the temperature extremes to contend with. Barker has experienced Februarys when his golf course is covered by four feet of snow—or February days with temperatures in the 70s. During the summer months, he’s recorded temperatures as high as 118!

To deal with all this, Barker makes weekly applications to his seven acres of bent/poa greens and green surrounds (his greens average approx. 7,500 square feet in size) alternating between Aquaritin Defend and Aquaritin 19 at a rate of 4.4 oz./acre. He’s seeing the same sort of results he did at Sunriver, notably enhanced roots, even in the heat of summer.

Golf course

“Root depth has improved and when I don’t get any rain here, that’s important to me. That is very comfortable for me, knowing that if I’m putting this out, I’m growing my root density and my depth. What that has allowed me to do is reallocate some of that money towards some of my fairways,”

Barker says that Aquaritin’s effectiveness has allowed him to allocate his maintenance dollars for other tasks,

“What that has allowed me to do is reallocate some of that money towards some of my fairways,” he said. “I’m not going to save my budget. I’m going to repurpose some of that money to other areas that are struggling.

Barker sees Defend and Aquaritin 19 as key components of his agronomic formula going forward.

I’ve used Aquaritin four of the last five years,” He said. “I will continue use it.

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