As The Dust Settles February 27, 2015

As The Dust Settles

By David A. Oatis, Director
November 20, 2009

2009 will go down as "the hardest easiest year" I can remember - at least since 1995, for those of you around long enough to remember. That was another one of those sneaky years where lots of turf was lost even though the weather didn’t really seem to have been all that bad. It is just one more in a long line of examples that show the strengths and weaknesses of golf courses are always exposed by the various weather patterns.

A rainy year can be a godsend for a well-drained course with a weak irrigation system, but a drought will wreak havoc with that same course. As the dust settles from the season, and focus switches from the daily grind of keeping turf alive to fall and winter project work, keep in mind the lessons learned this year. Just as lightening really does strike twice, failure to address the fundamental problems that caused this year’s problems is a guarantee that it will happen again.

As I drive to and from work in the dark, I’m reminded this is a great time to reconsider sun angles and to update your list for winter tree work. Keep in mind what it takes for turf to properly harden-off in the fall: dry weather, cold temperatures, proper (not too much) fertility, and sunlight. While the weather can’t be controlled, we can influence sunlight insofar as shade is concerned. Shade from October through March increases the potential for winter injury. Remember:

    • Reduced light inhibits the turf’s ability to store carbohydrates and harden off properly.
    • Succulent turf is much more susceptible to winter injury and disease.
    • Winter shade increases the duration of snow and ice cover.
    • Shade in the late winter prolongs melting, and this increases the potential for the lethal freeze/thaw cycles that produce the Northeast Region’s most common type of winter injury, crown hydration.
    • Turf that goes into the winter thin and weak isn’t likely to come out any better.

Improving chances for success next year starts right now. Hopefully you’ve already performed your fall cultivation work; if not, get started quickly. Next, assess the reasons behind the turf performance this year and make the necessary adjustments. Check your growing environments and make sure they are adequate.

Please take a minute to fill out the questionnaire in the most recent issue of the Green Section Record (Nov/Dec 2009). Your feedback is appreciated.

Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.

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