An Icy Situation
February 25, 2008
I write this update with growing trepidation as the winter months unfold. We should have sensed this winter was going to be different when early snow storms impacted fall fungicide programs and other winter preparation work farther north. Golf courses throughout the region have since been slammed with snow, widely fluctuating temperatures, heavy rains, ice storms, wind, and even unseasonably warm temperatures farther south. Several inches of rain saturated much of the region in the last week alone.
|Fast moving weather systems and coastal storms have created weather extremes around the region. Wet snow, slush and rain following last week's storm created a particularly dangerous situation for annual bluegrass.|
There is plenty of winter left so questions and difficult management decisions will likely arise. Hopefully, the weather patterns will become more consistent with near normal temperatures and some timely snowfall. Keep a few basic winter survival skills in mind as we move to the last half of winter.
- The first and perhaps most important is to try to maintain open paths for drainage on greens. This is especially important prior to warmer weather or rain events.
- Ice sheets that have been in place for over thirty to forty days on heavy soil greens or above covered greens now warrant frequent monitoring, to make sure the turf canopy is not becoming anoxic.
- Removing snow and ice and exposing turf in mid winter can be risky and should only be done if a problem is anticipated and the immediate weather forecast is favorable to accelerate melting.
- The objective should continue to be to maintain consistent canopy temperatures close to the freezing mark, and to keep the surfaces from becoming saturated. How you succeed in this effort will have a big impact on turf performance in the spring.
- The warmer weather and open conditions are always inviting to golfers to look those conditions as a bonus to the normal golfing season. Unfortunately, allowing traffic on partially thawed or wet greens in winter is a recipe for problems both above and below the surface. Often those problems will not be immediately noticeable but can come back to haunt the golf course later in the summer season. We realize the temptation to play the regular greens is great, so if you are going to do so, leave the decision as to when the greens are to be open to the professional you have entrusted to make decisions that are best for the long term maintenance and conditioning of the golf course!
USGA Regional Meeting at the New England Regional Turfgrass Conference and Show in Providence, RI on March 4;
Topics ranging from golf course economics and equipment financing, renovation projects, digital photography, communication, the rules of golf, and more will be covered.
USGA Regional Meeting at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY on March 13
The NYSTA Adirondack Regional Meeting at Lake Placid Resort in Lake Placid, NY on March 25
MGA/USGA Green Chairman Education Seminar at Wheatly Hills Country Club in East Williston, NY on March 27