Temperature Fluctuations Have Triggered Concern
By Keith Happ, director, North-Central Region January 22, 2014
|Temperature fluctuations this winter have been
severe. It will take time to evaluate if significant turf damage occurred.|
our last regional update we have been receiving phone calls from
superintendents expressing concern about the health of cool-season and warm-season
turf. During the first week of January temperatures dropped to record lows in
most area of the region. Add the wind chill factor to the polar vortex we
experienced and the limits of what grasses can tolerate was pushed to new
extremes. Within seven days of the record lows, the temperature rose to 50°F.
While it may have been a welcomed change to golfers, this tease of spring was
not good for the grass. When the snow and ice melted there was reason for
concern but not panic.
of the golf course that had snow cover had an element of insulation. Soil
temperatures at a two- to three-inch depth hovered at 32°F even when air temperatures
were well below zero. Fortunately, the severe low temperature extremes lasted only
for 24 to 36 hours. Research has demonstrated that creeping bentgrass is far
more tolerant of cold temperatures than ryegrass or Poa annua.
warm-season species, there are significant varietal differences with regards to
newer generation of bermudagrasses (e.g., ‘Riviera,’ ‘Latitude 36’ and ‘Northbridge’)
were specifically developed for cold tolerance. No matter what grass you are
managing it is hard to predict the aftereffects of these unusual weather conditions.
turf needs to break dormancy before we can determine if there is damage. We
still have a lot of winter weather ahead of us before consistent spring
conditions allow for sustained turf growth. The grass needs sunlight and soil
temperatures sustained at 50°F or more to grow consistently and the days are
getting longer. For the short term, communicate concerns to course officials. Some
have asked about using black sand or natural organic fertilizer to warm the
surface of their greens. Black sand or sunflower seeds will melt ice
accumulation and can be applied uniformly or site specifically. These products
will not over stimulate growth. Conversely, fertilizer treatments on frozen
turf are never a good idea.
you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our North-Central
offices: Keith Happ, director, at 412-341-5922 or Bob Vavrek, senior agronomist,
at 262-797-8743. Many superintendents have prepared very well for the winter
weather. Plant protectants, anti-desiccants and heavy topdressing treatments
have been completed. Continue to communicate concerns but don’t over react
until the grass can grow.
is not too early to plan to attend our Regional Conference at Oakmont Country
Club scheduled Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Register online at https://www.usga.org/register. Enter event code 31114. Credit cards are accepted for online
make every effort to control costs by partnering with allied associations. The
modest fee of $45 to attend provides a continental breakfast, a great slate of
speakers covering a wide variety of topics and concludes with a buffet
luncheon. Mark your calendars to join us; it is a great way to kick off the
Keith Happ at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bob Vavrek
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