Blast From the Past
By Chris Hartwiger, senior agronomist, Southeast RegionJanuary 9, 2014
|Covers are a reassuring sight to see during an arctic blast, but what about areas outside the covers? Did winter injury occur?|
The meteorologists tell us that much of
the Southeast experienced the coldest temperatures in the last 20 years. Many
low temperature records were broken for on the nights of Jan. 5 and 6. Most
bermudagrass putting greens in the region that experienced the coldest
temperatures were protected with straw and covers, but large areas of
bermudagrass on tees, fairways and roughs were exposed to temperatures between zero
to 10 degrees. These temperatures are capable of causing significant damage to
bermudagrass. This update is designed to help equip superintendents with
resources to answer the many questions they will receive from golfers.
Winter injury is a catch-all term that includes
several different types of damage to turf in the winter including low
temperature kill, desiccation and traffic. Low temperature kill is the biggest
concern following this recent cold wave.
For more information, please see Winterkill and
Responding To It Now,
an excellent document on winter injury and diagnosis written several years ago
by Drs. Grady Miller and Bert McCarty.
There is no way to quickly assess how
much damage has occurred because there are a number of stress factors that may
be involved including traffic, shade, excessive wetness, weak turf heading into
autumn, aspect (north- or south-facing slope), etc. Taking plugs from suspected
damaged areas and growing them indoors is the best method for assessing damage.
Drs. Grady Miller and Bert McCarty offered the following tips in the article
turfgrass plugs using a cup cutter from suspected low-temperature damage areas.
or plant these plugs in a suitable container of native soil with drainage
the containers in a greenhouse, or in a room beneath a heat lamp or grow light,
or as a last resort, in a southern-facing window.
the turfgrass plugs adequately watered.
that turfgrass should initiate growth and greening within seven to 10 days.
the amount of greening after plugs have been grown for two to three weeks.
Suspected areas with less than 50 percent greening should be considered
extensively damaged from low-temperature exposure and will probably require
renovation. Lesser damaged areas may recover with proper management practices
and extra attention.
the above sampling procedure on a 14- to 21-day interval through the periods of
potential cold weather injury.
We are available by phone or email to
discuss this topic and we welcome the chance to be of assistance to your course.
O'Brien (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chris Hartwiger (email@example.com)
on the USGA’s Turf Advisory Service
the Green Section Staff