COURSE CARE
Weather Extremes Are Part Of The Business February 27, 2015

Weather Extremes Are Part Of The Business

By Keith Happ, Senior Agronomist
March 4, 2008

It has been said many times we are managing turfgrass during periods of weather extremes. Highlight the dates of February 10 and 11th, 2008 on the calendar. Across the region we experienced a temperature drop that may have an effect on how the turf transitions to spring growth this season.

Near zero temperatures with double digit wind chill factors were experienced in the northern tier of the region. In the southern tier, Richmond, Virginia, for example, experienced lows in the teens with wind chill effects dropping the temperatures to near zero Fahrenheit. While it is too early to determine if any damage occurred, many turf managers are asking questions, examining turf samples that have been brought inside, and preparing different management scenarios to be ready for spring weather and golfing activity.

For the short term, samples brought inside can be used to determine if the active growing point of the plant has been damaged. If the crown of cool-season turf has survived, a new bud leaf will be initiated in as little as 48-hours. For bermudagrass, it is important to examine the rhizomes in the soil to see if damage has occurred. An extracted turf sample needs adequate light and moisture to break dormancy and begin to grow. If samples are left near windows during the daytime, move them away from the window during the evening to avoid them getting too cold. This slows growth, offering what could be perceived as a false negative regarding turf health.

There have been reports of thick ice cover on greens in the northern tier of the region. This ice can be melted with black sand, sunflowers seeds, or even low dosage rates of slow-release, dark-colored organic fertilizers. While it is too early to determine if this winter blast was the last being careful is always important. However, in the final analysis, it is the duration of cold temperatures, the condition of the grass when the conditions occurred, and the weather that follows these conditions that will determine the turf health. It sure is interesting maintaining golf courses in the Mid-Atlantic Region!

Please don't hesitate to call our offices if you have questions or concerns as we approach spring. You may contact the agronomists of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Stan Zontek ( szontek@usga.org ) or Darin Bevard ( dbevard@usga.org ) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ ( khapp@usga.org ) at 412/ 341-5922.