Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Good Bit O' the Green

St. Patrick's Day is on Wednesday next week and aside from the usual reasons to celebrate, this year (due to some very favorable developments just this week) there are plenty of additional reasons!

It's hard to believe but just a few short days ago the course was still blanketed by snow.  We've had a winter with a generous helping of the fluffy white stuff, in fact I believe it's the seventh snowiest on record. With temperatures well into the 50's this week, the blanket is no more.  Snow melted...Reason #1 to celebrate!

 Snow cover on Monday 3/8

Snow melted by Friday 3/12

The mostly continuous snow covering this winter has really tested the efficacy and length of protection of our late fall applied plant protectants used to manage snow mold disease activity.  Many areas in the untreated rough have a greater than usual presence of both Typhula and Microdochium fungi, commonly known as, Gray and Pink Snow Mold.  These diseases typically cause foliar blighting but no crown or root damage so recovery will occur from these unaffected plant parts, in a reasonable length of time. Our fall applied nutrients will help accelerate recovery as soon as soil temperatures rise, at which time they will become available for plant uptake. Fortunately, the areas we apply protectants to, the greens, tees, approaches, and fairways,have little to no activity. As with the rough, the amount of disease is more than I've seen in many years (in spite of our treatments) but overall less than many other fellow Agronomists and many Plant Pathologists expected, given the lengthy period of snow cover. Less disease than expected...Reason #2 to celebrate!

 Snow Mold disease fairly prevalent in untreated rough (foreground) but fortunately minimal in green, tee, and fairway areas.

Along the same lines of continuous snow coverage, a great concern of mine, and many of my colleagues, has been the lengthy covering of ice. You can review our snow and ice removal efforts in my January blog posts which, at the time, were performed at what perhaps could have been the upper limits of time that poa annua (a significant plant species component of our turf) is thought to withstand ice covering or encasement. Since those days back in late January I've been wondering if we would have ice encasement injury on #11 green, one of two greens that was rather severely damaged last year. After "flood melting" the snow off #11 green, and then warm temperatures thawing the soil enough so that we could pull the staples, we were able to turn back the cover for a good look. We're not completely "out of the woods yet" (a sudden drop to sub-freezing temperatures could happen and could result in crown hydration injury) but each passing day brings us closer to spring temperatures and beyond the threat of winter injury.

 Thick (3-4") ice coverage on #11 Green in Dec. & Jan.   
Breaking and removing ice on #11 Green 
 The result of our uncovering was a huge sigh of relief as we found very minimal, essentially typical early spring, slight turf discoloration. No apparent ice or other winter injury symptoms...Reason #3 to really Celebrate!

 First uncovering of #11 Green revels little to no winter injury!  

 Another Green (#2) with a Good bit o' green!
The Luck o' the Irish must be with us! (Along with the luck we created for ourselves with our management practices and products we used to protect our turf this past winter!)  Now let's hope the luck stays with us all summer long, and especially through the Western Amateur Championship!

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