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AIRING OUT

Q

I've seen a lot of demonstrations of different core aerating machines, along with different approaches (some with tines going into soil at an angle and others with them going in straight up and down). Does it make any difference? — via the Internet

A

There are many factors that can affect the effectiveness of core aeration operations, with age of the green and soil type being the most important. Greens are aerated to prevent the compaction of the soil, prevent disruption of water infiltrating the soil or to reestablish internal drainage by eliminating the compaction layer. Newly established greens should not have compaction issues, nor should they have excess thatch layers. In this case, you want to keep the soils open to infiltration of water. Sand-based greens should withstand compaction much longer than soil-based greens; however, sand-based greens can become compacted. Mature greens may have compaction and drainage issues. In addition, thatch layers can accumulate and cause problems, as well. Thatch can become water-repellent, resulting in turf areas that will not accept water. Considering this information, you will want aerating tines to penetrate as deeply as possible to move past any compaction layer and into any thatch layer. You can achieve this best by using machines that insert the tine as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Research studies show that tines entering at 50-degree angles vs. 70-degree angles vs. 90-degree angles showed that the more upright the tine, the more effective the operation. Your aeration should occur on soil that is moist, but is not muddy. Equipment plays a large part, as well. You will want an aerator with a powerful engine that is able to force the tines easily into the soil.

A LESSON IN TOLERANCE

Q

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We had a lot of rain in the spring and several trees were flooded that are not typically flooded. Will this harm them? — Houston

A

Every species has its flood tolerance or lack thereof. Some trees are able to withstand weeks of flooding, others handle repeated flooding as well, while others have no tolerance whatsoever. Species tolerant of flooding don't necessarily need flooded soil to survive, they simply tolerate low oxygen conditions quite well. Or they may have the ability to move oxygen from their lenticels down to the roots. Other species may be able to endure low oxygen, but not able to endure the increased pressure from Phytophthora root rots. Soil type can also affect how tolerant trees are of flooding. The only thing you can do is wait and see how your trees will react. They may decline rapidly, slowly or not at all. In fact, there are some species of fruit trees growing on calcareous soils that actually benefit from short-term flooding. While waterlogged, the iron in these soils is reduced from Fe3+ to Fe2+, the form absorbed and utilized by plants. Manganese is also made more available, as well.

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