The question, “Are we on our way to a record breaking winter?” can firmly be answered YES. Many of the major cities in the Mid-Atlantic Region received record snowfall, and still continue the digging out process. Punxsutawney Phil was correct – about six more weeks of winter.
Although golf course turf may not be the highest priority, it will be of concern as melt occurs during the move towards spring. There is a very good chance of more gray snow mold activity due to the snow depth and duration of cover. Some superintendents were able to re-treat the turf during the last thaw early in February. These preventive treatments should provide a good level of control for both gray and pink snow mold until all the snow has melted and the turf can be viewed. For the short term, there isn’t much that can be done with 30-plus inches of snow on the ground. However, as the snow melts, it will be important to provide avenues for water to escape important-to-play areas. The ten-day forecast for much of the region calls for below-freezing temperatures.
Many golf course turf areas have been under snow cover for about two weeks. Research has shown the turf can tolerate snow cover (not ice) for 45 to 60 days before there is a need to worry about anoxia (lack of oxygen). One major concern is that attempts to remove snow could result in physical damage to the playing surface. For the short term, over the next two weeks, continue to monitor the conditions. Feel free to call either of our Mid-Atlantic regional offices to discuss specific questions.
The next area of concern will be the rate at which all of this snow melts. Rapid melting can cause flooding, yet more gradual freeze and thaw cycles are never good for grass.
We look forward to talking with many of you during the conference season. Register on-line at www.usga.org/register to attend the USGA Green Section Regional Conferences; March 9, 2010 at Oakmont Country Club (event code 30910) and March 16, 2010 at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware (event code 31610).
The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your support team. If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an e-mail. Stan Zontek, (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Darin Bevard (email@example.com ) at 610-558-9066 or Keith Happ (firstname.lastname@example.org ) at 412-341-5922.