Cold Conditions Cause Turf Color Loss

By Todd Lowe, senior agronomist, Florida Region
January 22, 2014

Even in Florida, turf may go semi-dormant and lose its green color, especially in higher cut turf such as the rough, in January due to colder conditions.

Many come to South Florida to escape cold conditions and enjoy our warmer climate at this time of year. While we do not experience icy or snowy conditions, we are not completely immune from the chill and golf course turf can still show signs of stress from Jack Frost.

Frost can be expected a few times in our region each winter and generally only causes temporary discoloration, especially on higher mowed turf. Greater turf damage can occur when golfers play during frost, but most understand the need for frost delays to protect the turf.

Frost has occurred several times already at many North Florida golf facilities. This has caused the turf to turn brown and go completely dormant. However, frost just recently hit several areas throughout South Florida and, for the most part, it should only cause temporary color loss. Darker green hues are replaced with light green to yellowish turf on tees and fairways and tan coloration on roughs. Lower mowed areas like putting greens generally retain their color for much of the winter play season but take on a purplish hue during the coldest periods.

The discoloration is generally temporary and the turf will rebound following a few days of warmer conditions. Dark sprayable pigments and black sand are quite helpful at this time of year, as they absorb sunlight and attract heat to the playing surfaces. Doing so increases turf growth and improves turf quality throughout the winter play season. To see the impacts of pigments and black sand at other golf facilities, please see Liquid 'Overseed,' An Extended Cooler Spring or Switching From Traditional Overseeding To ‘Liquid Overseeding’.

Source:  Todd Lowe, (tlowe@usga.org)

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