Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter greens maintenance

After the strong winds last night, certain spots on our greens had all the snow cover blown off, leaving the turf exposed to the elements.  With the extreme cold temps the next few days, it makes me a little nervous exposing the turf to those -30 degree wind chills.  Therefore, we did not take any chances, today we went around the course and covered all the bare areas on the greens with a few inches of snow.  This will help moderate the temps.  If the temp outside is -15 degrees, with a few inches of snow, the ground temp would probably be closer to 0 degrees at the surface.

Adding snow to 12 green.

Turf is made up of moisture and if that plant (especially the crown) freezes, it means plant death.  Now, I know what you are thinking - the plant freezes at 32 degrees, well, not exactly.  Time for a science lesson: Turf, through a "cold hardening process" accumulates proteins, amino acids and carbohydrates in the plant tissue.  This creates a concentrated solution inside the plant cell that won't freeze until anywhere from -5 degrees down to -40 degrees.  Basically the plant is making a "antifreeze solution" to protect itself.  If the plant has adequate time to harden off, it usually does OK.  Our northern neighbors will sometime cover greens with straw and blankets to protect greens from the thawing and hard freezing cycles that come around each winter if they typically don't get enough snow.  Three weeks ago when we had the extreme cold temps, we had plenty of snow cover.  Today we had a few bare spots and to give the turf a fighting chance, we gave it natures own blanket.  We won't know if any damage was done until spring.  I don't forsee large patches of dead turf, but I would not be surprised if small sections didn't make it through the hard winter.

This type of winter "threat" is caused by extreme temps and high winds.  There is another type of winter threat that is caused by freezing and thawing cycles - turf under ice cover only lasts for so long.  We have small sections that are under ice currently (mainly in the fairways).  Again - I would not be surprised if small sections of turf did not make it through winter.

While out on the course, we saw an interesting weather phenomenon:  Snow Rolls - we figure it must have been caused by last night's weather - melting temps with high winds.

These snow rolls were all over.

We thought maybe the deer were trying to make snowmen.