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Archive for January, 2014

Wintermission

Slush and snow layer on greens

Slush and snow layer on greens

We have now had a couple of days with above freezing temperatures in southwestern Ontario accompanied by heavy rainfall. This prompted me to go out and examine the snow and ice layer. On Saturday the temperature was 7C. The layering on the green was as follows: about a 5cm thick layer of ice, topped with 1cm of slush all topped with 7cm of snow. On Saturday the ice was easily broken once I shovelled of the snow layer.
5 cm ice layer

5 cm ice layer

Today the ice layer that I found after shovelling off the snow is no longer easy to break, but it is more granular in appearance. The hope is that with another day of above freezing temperatures that the ice layer will continue to become more porous. Stay tuned.

Granular ice

Granular ice

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Snow and ice on research green

Snow and ice on research green

Sheet of thick ice on turf

Sheet of thick ice on turf

Most of us in Ontario got caught in an ice storm sometime on the Dec. 21-22nd weekend. It was memorable for its beauty, downed trees and power outages. It might also leave a yet to be determined legacy on your greens. My guess is that there is a solid 2.5 cm thick layer of ice on most golf course turf. To make matters worse, in most areas there is no insulating snow cover on top of the ice. As the clock ticks, the possibility of injury to the turf underneath increases. Research conducted by Tompkins, et. al. in 2004 at Olds College in a laboratory setting has determined that annual bluegrass can lose its winterhardiness after 45-60 days of ice encasement.

The current conditions are very similar to those that we experience in the winter of 2009-2010. The results were not pretty. There was widespread damage caused by anoxia to golf course turf in the Spring 2010. It is too early to tell what the outcome of the ice storm will be. We can all hope for a winter thaw that melts the ice well before the 60 day mark. If this isn’t the case, it might be wise to have a plan in place to attempt to physically break up the ice layer later in the winter. In addition, a good communication strategy to members could help explain the possible turf damage and losses brought on by mother nature. Check this blog later in the season for an update on conditions under the ice. Here is a link on the effects of anoxia on golf course turf. http://ptrc.oldscollege.ca/documents/MitAnoxiaIceCoversBGPuttingGreens.pdf

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