Friday, February 4, 2011

"What Does Winter Weather Do For Turf On The Golf Course?"

There are positive and negative effects of winter weather to turf on the golf course. These effects are dependent on the type of precipitation, temperature, and how long the snow or ice cover exists.

The best precipitation for turf is a powdery snow. A thick blanket of snow provides an insulating blanket that protects the turf. When exposed turf thaws in winter, it will began to break dormancy and root systems will start to absorb moisture. The cell walls of the plants become thinner and are more susceptible to damage from a significant drop in temperature. If this occurs with the temperatures, these swollen cells can be damaged and turf loss will occur. A thick blanket of snow will also protect turf from winter desiccation, which is the drying up of turf when exposed to winter winds. The wind removes moisture from the turf and leaves it unable to replenish itself because the water it needs is frozen in the soil.
As for a cover of ice on turf, especially on greens, is not what we want to see happen. When a layer of ice forms on the surface of the green it can cause problems if this layer is there for a week or so. Toxic levels of carbon dioxide can become built up under the ice and not allowed to escape. The Carbon Dioxide is the result of the turf being alive under the ice, and the cells of the plant are using food that has been stored in an effort to survive. The conversion of the food to energy releases the Carbon Dioxide which is a toxin to the turf, when the gas cannot escape the ice layer for an extended period of time. Poa Annua also known as annual bluegrass is more susceptible to damage than the Bentgrass, but unfortunately here at Crofton we have a large population of annual bluegrass.
So if u are wishing for winter weather for the months of December, January, and February, I hope all of u wish for thick blankets of powdery snow!