Thursday, April 3, 2014

What a Winter!

As we gratefully welcome spring, the question on everyone's mind seems to be, how did all of the nasty weather we endured affect the golf course?  The quick answer is that we haven't seen any major issues as the course has emerged from beneath the frozen tundra.  But let's look at things in a bit more detail.
With Poa Annua as the dominant species of grass on the greens, there definitely was greater concern for winter injury than with Creeping Bentgrass.  Poa is more susceptible to direct kill from cold temperatures, as well as less tolerant of ice cover.  Because of this, the prolonged snow cover we experienced may have actually helped.  Unlike ice, snow allows gas exchange, while providing a layer of insulation and preventing dessication from wind.
However, there was one downside to the lengthy snow cover--it provided a great opportunity for Pink Snow Mold to develop.  While we typically think of turf diseases appearing when it's hot and humid, snow mold thrives in cool, wet conditions.  Fortunately, the turf will grow out of any snow mold damage as soon as we have some consistently warm temperatures.
People have also wondered if the extreme cold will lessen the populations of damaging insects this year.  Based on history, it's unlikely.  Insects seem to be quite adaptable, so we're going to prepare for the battle against the Annual Bluegrass Weevil, and you should be ready for those pesky Stink Bugs to try and sneak into your house.
There were a couple of potential benefits from the extreme cold temperatures.  Freezing and thawing cycles can reduce compaction in the soil, potentially leading to better drainage and rooting.  The cold also helps increase the efficacy of the selective herbicide we apply in the fall to keep Poa out of the tees and fairways.  In general, the more sever the winter, the better this product works on the Poa.
So here’s the bottom line:  While this winter wasn't fun for some, it looks like the course held up well, and we'll be ready to go in good shape as soon as Mother Nature drops the "green" flag this spring.

Even the ballwashers were happy to head back out, as the threat of freezing temperatures has finally ended.

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