Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010

It seems that every winter I am asked by some one sooner later, “is this snow good for the grass, or does it hurt it?”

And my answer is always the same, “it all depends...”

Snow cover, like any other weather event, can help or hurt, and there are an infinite number of variables that can tip it either way. Here are the basics:

A good snow cover insulates the turf from wind and cold air temperatures, so that the turf does not desiccate, or dry out too much. Being covered with snow, the turf and the soil get a “traffic” break too, which prevents winter wear damage. As the snow melts, the water seeps through the soil, facilitating gas exchange for oxygen to jump start the roots when the soil warms. Many times, the turf is healthier coming out of winter when it has had snow cover for at least some of the winter.

On the other hand, winter diseases can occur beneath the snow because of the moist environment at the turf /snow interface. And if ice should form and cover the turf for long periods of time (usually 3 weeks or more), especially on poa greens, gas exchange will stop altogether and turf can then smother and perish due to a lack of oxygen. You may remember this happening to greens in the Philadelphia area about fifteen years ago.

We do our best to prevent bad things from happening, such as keeping fertility low and doing a snow mold spray late in the fall to suppress disease. And if the snow stays too long, we will clear it off best we can.

Right now, I am not worried about the snow that we had early this’s been on the turf long enough to be good, but not there long enough to worry about.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010

We'd like to wish all our members and guests a Greate Holiday Season, and best wishes for the New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20, 2010

The winter solstice occurs tomorrow, Tuesday, December 21, at 11:28 pm EST. The solstice marks the moment that the earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted back it furthest point from the sun, and the southern hemisphere is tilted is furthest point closest to the sun, - it is the shortest day in the north and the longest day in the south!

Beginning at 11:29 pm EST, the days will start to lengthen here as the earth begins to tilt opposite, and we will begin the transition towards spring!

Prior to the solstice, there will be a lunar eclipse which will begin Tuesday morning at 2:41 am, and will last approximately 3.5 hours. This is a very rare event – that a lunar eclipse occurs on solstice day!

Although it may not seem that solstices and golf go together, they are very much intertwined, as all plant life is dependent upon day light length...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11, 2010

Last Wednesday and Thursday Chris and I attended the New Jersey Turf Conference held in Atlantic City. We attended presentations on turf biology and disease, managing turf stresses, disease suppression and control, soils, and water management. The speakers included Dr. Bruce Clarke of Rutgers University, Dr. Peter Dernoeden of the University of Maryland and Dr. Bruce Martin of Clemson University. We also attended a seminar to get updated on pesticides and pesticide safety which was conducted by representatives of the NJDEP.

During breaks, Chris and I had plenty of opportunity to talk with other Superintendents and turf professionals about how we faced the weather challenges of last summer. We all talked about what worked and what didn’t. In the end, the consensus was that it was the hottest and toughest summer that any have seen, which wasn’t that much surprising…. But sharing our experiences with others was, and will always be, another way to learn.

As with any career, one can never learn enough, which is why Chris and I attend events such as this. Everything we learn gives us another tool to help you have the best conditions that we can offer.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010

It’s early December and the weather has made a decided turn toward cold! Just like all of you with residential sprinkler systems, here at the golf course we also need to get the water out of our pipes before heavy freeze causes damage. Our process for blowing out the irrigation system is similar to yours or your landscaper’s, but on a much larger scale.
We begin the week before our rented air compressors arrive, and let the system “gravity drain” for a day or two. We open some of the higher elevated valves to let air in the pipes, which in turn lets water drain into some of the ponds around the course. When water is no longer flowing out of our pipes we close all of our valves, attach the compressors to the main pipe outside of the pump house, and begin pumping compressed air into the irrigation system. We re-open the pond fills and let the air push out as much water as possible. Next, starting closest to the pump house and working away from it, we open every hose connection and run every sprinkler until nothing but air exits.
We literally have miles of pipe to empty, and 800 or so sprinkler heads and quick coupling valves that need to be emptied. Though we only make use of the compressors for two or three days, it takes about a week to complete our blowout. The goal is not to get every drop of water out of the system, but to get enough out so that if a deep freeze occurs, the pipes and sprinklers will remain undamaged. We have a pretty good process going and rarely do we see damage caused by ice. The process can be tedious, but it saves us an awful lot of trouble when we recharge the system the following spring!

This article was contributed by Chris Lare, Assistant Superintendent.