October is almost over, and the leaves are starting to display their usual spectacular colors thanks in part to a warm, wet month. The warmth also allowed us to have a successful aerification season and heal in all signs of it quite quickly. There are still some great days in the forecast for you to enjoy your golf course, and we hope to see you out as we begin to tackle mulching all those beautiful leaves when they fall off of the trees.
As the lead picture of 18 green showed, we had our first frost last Thursday morning, or about 3 weeks later than normal. The arrival of frosty mornings serves as a good reminder why we delay tee times when there is frost.
Frost is essentially frozen dew. It can form when the temperature approaches near freezing. The ice crystals that form on the outside of the plant can also harden or freeze the cellular structure of the plant. When frost is present, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and can be easily crushed internally or pierced like a knife from the outside ice crystals. When these cell membranes are damaged, the plant loses its ability to function normally. Think of this like cracking an egg: once the shell is broken, it cannot be put back together.
|Average footprinting of a foursome on a green|
Although damage will not be immediate, the proof will emerge within 48-72 hours as leaves turn brown and die. As the picture left shows the typical foot traffic of a normal foursome on a green, damage could be extensive if played or mowed during frosty conditions. Recovery from frost damage can take several weeks depending on weather. For more information on frost delays, here is a link to a great USGA video explaining them.
|Drainage install on 17|
The staff also installed a catch basin and drain tile along 17 fairway last week. Through the year, this area opposite the fairway bunker had developed poor drainage conditions. This catch basin will capture much of the water that collects and divert it into the rough. We will also have our contractor deep tine this area to improve the water percolation of the soil November 6th.
|Severe example of what winter can bring!|
We also have begun the winterization of the golf course and turf. On November 6th, we will begin to winterize the irrigation system, a process that takes about 3 days. We also will begin applications that will maximize turf health and protection from the severe winters that can visit our area. For the greens, that entails the following:
Raising mower heights. Throughout the next 3 weeks, I will raise the height of cut on greens from the normal height of .120″ to .135″ slowly. Raising height of cut allows more leaf surface for the turf to maximize their photosynthetic capabilities and carbohydrate storage. Raising height will also lessen stress to the plant and create a deeper root system going into winter. While raising heights may not create the speeds that summer brings, it is best for the long term health of the greens going into winter.
|Deep tine aerification|
Aerification. On November 6th, we have a contractor coming in to perform solid tine aerification to a depth of 10″ on all greens. These extra holes create three advantages: additional channels for spring root growth, aid in relieving any deeper compaction within the rootzone soil profile, and extra drainage capabilities for ice/snow melt to prevent ice formation on the plant surfaces. The greens are rolled immediately after being aerified, and these holes do remain open throughout the winter for the above mentioned reasons.
Fertility and Plant Protectants. While we limit nutrients on finely maintained turf during the season to provide great playing conditions, the fall is the best time to feed the turf to maximize carbohydrate storage going into winter. The more carbs the plant stores, the quicker it will break dormancy when temperatures warm up in the spring. Winter can also bring the threat of snow mold to all varieties of turf on the golf course, and our sprayers will be out applying plant protectants to help prevent infection from those fungal diseases.
|1 green after heavy topdressing|
Topdressing. When growth has ceased for the year, we will apply a thick coating of sand topdressing to bury the crowns and as much leaf tissue as possible. This sand helps protect and insulate the crown of the plant from any extreme cold temperatures. This practice is very effective in protecting the turf from any potential ice damage and helps maintain a smooth surface when the course opens next year.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great week and I hope to see you out on the golf course!