South Florida offers its own set of challenges to turf managers. Aside from hurricanes, which can do an enormous amount of damage on their own (they absorb large amounts of salt water and bring it inland with the rainfall) turf managers in south Florida must deal with extremes of the area’s weather patterns.
There is the rainy season, and there is the dry season, with not much transition time between the two. The rainy season begins in June, along with the time frame designated as “hurricane season.”
Throughout the summer it is not unusual for south Florida to receive daily rainfall as regular afternoon thunderstorms move across the state. The east coast of Florida averages more than 60 inches of rain annually, the majority of it falling during the summer rainy season (June through September) and one other notable wet period occurring in late winter to early spring.
Hurricane season officially ends on November 30 of each year, but by then the state has moved into its dry season which typically runs from November through April. Drought conditions and wildfire risks are the dangers inherent to this season. For 2011-2012, the expected rainfall is below normal as predicted by NOAA who produces a continuously updated forecast for the dry season.
Location can bring its own set of challenges to turf grass managers, as noted by Chris Denson, manager of Cobb Stadium, at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, winner of the STMA 2010 College Soccer Field of the Year. “Due to the close proximity to the ocean, there is a small amount of salt water intrusion in our irrigation well. If the well is drilled any deeper, the field would be irrigated with brackish water. Due to the shallow fresh water table, the suction line can’t be raised to fresher water. This situation is countered with lime and chelated calcium applications and infrequent irrigation during the rainy season due to large amounts of rainfall.”
Add more than one sport or user group to the mix and finding the time between practices and events to perform maintenance can be a challenge in itself! Constant vigilance and effective communication are the secrets to meeting the challenges of sports turf management in paradise.