After Hurricane Matthew thrashed the Southeast in October and golf courses were flooded by rain and storm surge, Jerry Stoller, founder of Stoller USA, stepped up to help golf course superintendents get through the challenging weather event.

hurricane matthew golf courses

Jerry Stoller

Stoller is no longer involved with the day-to-day operations of his company, but he organized a task force consisting of Stoller USA employees to provide superintendents with advice on how to deal with turf damage caused by the hurricane.

The task force included agronomic experts and turf pathologists, among others, who were dispatched to hard-hit areas to help superintendents diagnose and treat problems such as abiotic stress.

Houston-based Stoller USA specializes in plant stress and nutrition products. Stoller himself has more than 45 years of agriculture and agronomic experience.

“Jerry Stoller saw a need and wanted to help,” said John Fisher, a research and development associate for Stoller USA, who was a member of the task force.

The team was headed by Robert Shortell, Ph.D., Stoller USA’s vice president of global marketing. Task force members helped superintendents assess salt water damage to turfgrass and the soil. They also assessed wind damage to the vascular tissue of the turf.

“There are a lot of stress factors that need to be considered,” Fisher said.

A common problem was saltwater saturation of the soil, said Fisher, who notes that excess sodium in the soil literally sucks the water out of the roots, causing short- and long-term damage to bioactivity in the soil.

Fisher wasn’t on site at any golf courses that were damaged, but he did offer his agronomic knowledge to communicate information to other task force members who were on site and advising superintendent. Task force members helped superintendents diagnose the problems and make proper selections in terms of cultural practices and products to deal with turf problems, Fisher said.

For instance, to flush excess salt from the soil, superintendents used products to replace the sodium cations in the soil with calcium cations.

Stoller has set up a hotline for superintendents to request help with their damaged turfgrass. The number is 346-221-1391.