The sun is shining as I write this blog. It is sitting higher in the sky and you can feel its increasing intensity. Spring is in the air. I have seen chipmunks running around and more bird activity in the area. All are positive signs.
I took a walk around the course with my snowshoes yesterday. Hopefully I won’t have to say that too much longer. I had my shovel with me to check out the turf conditions under the snow pack. I am happy to report that I continue to be ice free on my turf surfaces. We do not have any frost in the ground on the areas that I checked yesterday which is also a good sign. Any rains that we get through this transition period in the spring will be able to move through the soil profile and not stay on the greens surface. There are a number of winter related injury issues that can have a negative effect on turf. Below are just a few
Prolonged ice cover has the possibility of sealing off gas exchange between the plants and the outside air. Respiration in turf still slowly continues over the winter. Under an impermeable ice cover, these gases could build up to a point where they could become toxic to the turf. This type of damage is more of a concern if the ice develops early in the winter and there is no thaw to remove it. The term to describe this is anoxic conditions.
Crown Hydration Injury is a problem generally associated with turf growing in wet soils whose saturated cells rupture and die following extreme fluctuations in freezing and thawing temperatures. Turf is especially vulnerable to crown hydration damage in the 2 to 3 week transition period during snowmelt in early spring when standing water and saturated crown tissues often exist on semi-frozen soil surfaces. This is especially apparent on greens which are not contoured to allow for surface run-off. Also, in this transition period, wide daily temperature changes are common, the turfs carbohydrate levels are low, and the young tissues being produced are highly susceptible to crown hydration damage. Annual Bluegrass is especially susceptible to this type of injury.
Snow Mold can cause damage under the snow pack. There are two types in this area that cause damage, Pink Snow and Grey Snow Mold.
Pink Snow Mold (Microdochium nivale) can appear in two forms, depending on if there is snow cover or not. On turf that is free of snow, the disease appears as circular water soaked patches of 20 to 50mm in diameter. They can expand up to patches 300mm in size. The turf in the patch turns from an orange-brown colour to tan as the disease progresses. In wet conditions a pink or white ring of mycelium may be seen around the edge of the patch. If left unchecked these patches can coalesce into large areas of infected turf. Patches associated with snow cover will initially tend to be white and large 75-300mm. The mycelium tends to form a mat with the grass leaves. The colour of the patches will turn pink, especially at the margins.
Grey Snow Mold (Typhula incarnata) symptoms initially appear as the snow thaw on the surface is occurring. Circular patches ranging from 50 to 750mm appear and have a colour of greyish brown. A greyish white mycelium may be seen growing over or at the perimeter of the patch, especially during humid wet periods. These patches can coalesce into large areas of infected turf. As the affected turf dries out it appears straw coloured. This disease can infect the leaves and the meristematic nodes on the turf (crown).
Over the next couple of weeks I will be keeping an eye out for any type of damage associated with winter. I remain very optimistic as we have had a relatively good winter and it looks like we are going to gradually loose our snow over the next couple of weeks. I took a video of hole #18 and the clubhouse yesterday. Check it out below. I will continue to post videos showing our transition from winter to opening. There is always a lot to do on the course to get it ready.
Until next time,
General Manager/Course Superintendent