Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Weather vs The Golf Course

Winter seems to have finally arrived here in Chautauqua County.  The 10 day forecast is calling for high temps remaining in the 20's and 30's with a little snow thrown in for good measure.  For those of you in warmer climates for the winter, you have missed out on the mildest Western New York winter in recent memory with manageable temps and snowfall well below the regional average - Mayville has only had 54" to date.  Of course, there are averages for a reason and I'm sure we'll be getting some nasty lake effect through the rest of the winter.

The question I have been getting is "How does the mild winter affect the golf course?"  Normally, we would get some hard frosts in late October and early November followed by a snow that would last until late March at the earliest.  In my opinion this is ideal, as the grass gets a chance to harden and go dormant before I apply the fungicide and the snow protects it from the bitter winter winds that tend to desiccate the plant, potentially causing winter kill. 

I'm not certain how things will come out this spring.  We did not have the normal dormancy or snow fall this winter.  As of Tuesday afternoon everything looked good and as I would expect it for this time of year, but we still have 3 months of winter to get through.  There are two potential problems that stem from this type of winter.  1)  The turf was growing later into the winter than normal and may have "grown out" some of the systemic fungicide that was applied, possibly shrinking its window of effective control.  And 2) with all the thawing and re-freezing of the little snow that we have had, the potential for ice damage is elevated.  We have never had ice damage in the past, but then again, we haven't had too many winters like this.  The answer to both problems is to keep a close eye on the course whenever we can see some bare ground and treat any problems when we can.

As I said, we look good so far and the new combination of fungicides we use have proven to be much better than the old stand by (PCNB) of years past and I do not anticipate any control problems in the spring.  The ice issue is up to Mother Nature at this point, but we will keep an eye on it throughout the winter.  The pictures below are of #3 Lake green taken on Tuesday.  Other than being a little shaggy, it looks good.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season!  Think green!


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