The Winter Winds Are Coming!

By David A. Oatis, director, Northeast Region
November 12, 2013

Shaded turf experiences more frost and holds frost for a longer period of time. Frost itself doesn’t necessarily injure the turf, but the shade reduces the growth and vigor of the turf.

The 2013 season is drawing to a close and conference season is officially here. The New York State Turfgrass Association Conference was held in Rochester, N.Y., this week and the New Jersey Green Expo (Dec. 8-10) in Atlantic City, N.J., will be here soon. 

Leaf cleanup is in full swing on golf courses throughout the region, and projects are underway as well. Dry weather continues to dominate most of the Northeast region, and for facilities undertaking construction projects, the weather has been ideal. It also is beneficial for the hardening process that turf must go through prior to the onset of winter. Many are beginning to winterize irrigation systems too, but with the extremely dry weather, it may be a little early to shut down your irrigation system. Turf that goes into the winter exceedingly dry that is subjected to cold, drying winter winds may suffer desiccation injury. Golf facilities in the Northeast region rarely experience severe desiccation injury because there is usually consistent snow cover, but it certainly is possible. This is something to be mindful of as winter approaches. 

Speaking of winter, the first snow flurries hit Connecticut and the New York metropolitan area this Tuesday. There was minimal accumulation, but it served as a reminder of what is to come in the months ahead. 

Frost delays are common this time of year, and while they are annoying to golfers, frost also tells a story about the growing environment in which the turf resides. Areas that experience the most frost and hold snow and ice accumulations the longest, almost always support the weakest turf too. It should not be surprising, but turf that is shaded in the fall will go into the winter in a weakened state; and, if the turf goes into winter weak, it will emerge next spring the same way. Selective tree work can reduce the frequency of frost delays and promote healthier, more vigorous turf next spring. 

Source: David Oatis (

Information on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service

Contact the Green Section Staff

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