The Frost Is On The Pumpkin

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
November 3, 2011

I am tempted to suggest that the recent freak snowstorm in the Northeast Region is “the icing on the cake” as far as weather extremes are concerned in this region, but with two more months to go, and heaven knows how many more records could be set, I am reluctant to do so.  Is it possible to set another record for the greatest number of weather-related records being set in a single year?

For now, I will not complain too much about the tree damage and the widespread power outages.  However, a mere three days without power in our neighborhood has taught me a number of valuable lessons:


  • I love hot showers!
  • I love hot showers in my own home best of all!
  • Electricity is a wonderful thing!
  • Candlelight may be romantic, but it’s darn hard to read by!
  • A 7-year-old, dust-covered and never-used generator that takes up too much room in the garage is a wonderful thing!
  • My wife will never complain about the generator taking up too much space again!


On a more serious note, the recent heavy, wet snow that blanketed many areas of the Northeast Region obviously wreaked havoc with trees and utilities.  This is the same phenomena that occurred in Buffalo, New York a few years ago, and the effects suffered by the trees are still being felt there.  I doubt there will be any impact on the turfgrass in the Northeast Region, but weaker, soft-wooded tree species with poor structure (see the Bradford pear trees from my neighborhood) have been severely affected.  Unfortunately, even healthy, good quality trees can suffer damage as a result of the weight of the snow on top of leaf-filled canopies.  The event obviously will generate tremendous costs for some courses as a result of cleanup, but there will likely be longer-term costs for some courses.  Trees that are severely damaged and not removed will eventually sucker out.  The suckers never form a strong point of attachment, so these trees will generate more debris and require more trimming in the future.  Damaged areas of trees can also be colonized by wood-rotting fungi, which further weaken the tree and its structure.  Undoubtedly, some courses will choose to keep damaged trees in the short term, but severely damaged trees may never fully recover. 

Source:  Northeast Region Green Section- Dave Oatis, Director; Adam Moeller, Agronomist Jim Skorulski, Senior Agronomist 


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