Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All Covered Up

I started this post a few weeks ago and then had a few difficulties getting pictures uploaded but now these issues have been resolved. At the time we had just covered (thinking we were just in time for that matter!) the greens, as the temperatures were dipping below freezing, snowfall was predicted, and accumulation was likely.

 Green covering took place on Dec. 2nd &3rd

The date of our annual green covering, and the closing of the greens until spring, varies from year to year (dictated by freezing temperatures) and is preceded by several tasks including; deep tine aeration, topdressing, setting temporary hole locations in the approaches, nutrient applications (designed to be available for plant uptake as soon as the grounds thaws in early spring), and a final plant protectant application.
This final plant protection, which helps control fungi that cause snow mold diseases, is applied as late in the year as possible, and as close to what we believe (a little weather prediction involved) could be a lasting snow cover. A good hard freeze prior to, and then a nice blanket of snow, is always preferred, since snow falling on unfrozen ground can actually insulate it and provide an ideal environment for certain snow mold fungi, but we can't control this.  What we can do is apply protection products before snow is expected and this was completed just prior to our placing of the greens covers.

For the twentieth year now we have used greens covers which are a permeable material made with a double layer, woven, translucent polyethylene and bonded with a unique lace coating. I believe they have been very beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Protect against the desiccating affects of cold dry wind should it be an "open" low snow cover winter.
  • Protect against debris and other undesirable accumulation and damage from geese, deer, and coyote.
  • Protect against walkers, cross country skiers, joggers, etc., when greens are frost covered.
  • Enhances soil warming in early spring leading to earlier root growth, and earlier dormancy break and spring green up.   
  • Allows late season aeration versus more common immediate post Labor Day timing, providing a longer period, well into late fall, of undisturbed putting surfaces. 
  • Should damage occur due to disease or ice (covers allow air and moisture to pass so ice can still accumulate) the covers will enhance new seed germination from overseeding and general plant recovery.

 All tucked in for winter!

Well, as it turned out, our covering process was indeed quite timely as the ground froze and has remained frozen since then. Snow cover has been nearly continuous, at least in the shorter turf areas (greens, tees, and fairways) where the soil is not as well insulated by the plants as it is in longer turf (rough) areas. Yesterday a new blanket of the fluffy white stuff fell and more is falling as I write this, so Mother Nature has the entire course well covered at the moment and it appears as though it will be this way for some time. It's quite nice for Christmas and it protects in much the same way that our green covers do, but a mid-winter thaw often occurs and the green covers will then, and continuing on into spring, provide the many valuable benefits that they have for many past years.

Mother Nature's Natural Covering!

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