Stow Acres Turf

Golf Course Maintenance News & Live Updates from @stowacresturf

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One year makes a huge difference…

This time last year, it seemed as though golf was in full swing in Stow, MA. At Stow Acres, we are eagerly awaiting the chance to get on both courses and begin spring cleanup and preparation. However, the snow from this past Tuesday is only slowly melting off due to this ridiculous cold weather, low dipping jet stream pattern we are stuck in. Hopefully this week looks promising, as temperatures may reach 50F during a few afternoons. Thanks to Adam Moeller, USGA Agronomist, for this well written update on turf grass conditions currently in the Northeast region.

By Adam Moeller, agronomist, Northeast Region
March 21, 2013

The cold weather experienced this March is far different than March of 2012 for the Northeast Region. Last year, many courses in the Northeast were open and had plenty of golfers playing at this point. The recent blast of cold air and snow that hit many parts of the region has golfers and course superintendents wondering when the golf season is going to start. The long range forecast suggests a continued stretch of cold weather, which is likely to slow the spring green-up and growth at many facilities. However, golf diehards are still eager to play despite the cold temperatures. The decision to open the course for play before the grass is actively growing is a difficult one, especially given the economic outlook for many facilities. Heavy traffic on grass that is not growing could weaken the putting greens and make them vulnerable to problems later in the season. If the greens are open for play before they are growing, be mindful that adequate traffic management is important to avoid concentrated wear from developing.
The cold temperatures are also making it challenging for golf courses still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Those facilities that lost grass from flooding are in the process of cultivating and seeding the damaged areas. Germination is dependent on soil temperatures so the recovery process will be slow as long as low temperatures persist. The use of covers to warm the soils is a great option until more consistent warm weather is experienced.
One positive that could develop as a result of the recent cold snap is the impact on insect populations, particularly Annual Bluegrass Weevils. These destructive and difficult to control insects can survive the cold winter temperatures well. However, once warmer temperatures are experienced in the spring these insects wake up and lose their tolerance of cold temperatures to some extent. Therefore, it is possible that the cold weather experienced after the previous warmer weather in the first half of March could prove to be lethal to some of these insects. Regardless, monitoring Annual Bluegrass Weevil activity with pitfall traps and soap flushes is crucial to implementing a successful control program.
USGA agronomists can provide insightful and invaluable information involving all areas of golf course maintenance, which will help maximize turf health, playability, and efficiency.

We will continue to update you with course conditions as we get closer to opening. Stay tuned!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent


Snow on a golf course is a good thing?!

Snow pack on a golf course is a VERY good thing! Up until this past Friday, we were struggling to keep more than 2 inches covering our dormant turf. When the turf is exposed for prolonged periods of time in the winter months, it becomes susceptible to desiccation. Another benefit of having snow cover on the golf course is that it provides a nice warm blanket for the turf. Under the snow, the temperature never drops below or rises above 32F. Although still on the cold side for grass, the turf can sustain these temperatures quite nicely, as opposed to the extreme lows we saw at the end of January. When the snow covers up, the plant doesn’t need to consistently guess which period it should be going through. Although this article below discusses winter injury, Stow Acres is in great shape entering mid-February. We just got our snow cover a brief time ago, and the purpose of the article below is to illustrate the importance for constant monitoring by a professional turf team consistently throughout the winter months. For a more detailed explanation, please read the following article posted by the USGA: Snow.


Experts Explain: Snow Covering On Golf Course Greens
Posted: 3/9/2010

By USGA Experts

We’re Starting To Get Concerned About How Long The Snow Is Hanging Around On Our Golf Course Greens. What Should Be Our Top Priorities?
Snow cover is not necessarily a bad thing, but several factors need to be evaluated. The following actions should be considered as we enter the final stretch of the winter season.

• Begin checking under covers and ice layers for the presence of anaerobic conditions (a distinctive sulfur odor indicating dying grass). On areas of concern for potential damage, pull turf plugs and bring them inside to see if they start to green-up when placed in a warm, sunny window .
• Make plans to lift or vent under impermeable covers if a smell is detected. With no smell, there’s no problem at this point.
• Begin to monitor temperatures under impermeable cover systems, as snow cover is lost and the sun’s strength increases. Start the process of removing the impermeable covers once temperatures beneath the covers reach the 41°F-43°F range consistently. Plant hardiness declines rapidly at those temperatures. Use a permeable cover to protect the exposed turf while it re-acclimates to the new environment.
• Initiate the process to remove ice sheets if an anaerobic condition is detected at the surface of annual bluegrass greens. The recent rains and warmer temperatures in the forecast may offer a window to do so for some, while the wet, heavy snows will make that more difficult further north and west. There is always a risk associated with that action, but there are few options if the anaerobic condition is detected. Use a permeable cover or blow snow back over the recently cleared surfaces to protect the exposed turf, if necessary.
• Keep an open channel of communication with golfers so that they are aware of golf course conditions during the transition to spring.

Winter injury is a very complex event, controlled by many variables that are a long way from being completely understood. The techniques that are used to protect the turf are improving, but are not, and probably never will be, perfect. There is always a chance that you can do everything right, and still be wrong and suffer winter injury. The best we can do is to try to identify the specific causes of injury and then address as many of those factors as possible with the available management options. This reconfirms why it is a good idea to periodically pull grass plugs throughout the winter, especially following weather events when the turf may have been hydrated and then subjected to very cold temperatures.

Thanks for your support and understanding this year. We look forward to opening the golf course as soon as nature allows. See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent

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Aeration delayed due to rain…

I know most of you don’t hear me say this often, but unfortunately, we received quite a bit of rain this week.  Totals came in at 1.12″ from Monday night until Wednesday afternoon.  This obviously made aeration North greens  impossible and we had to delay until October 8-10.  Some have been inquiring about the South greens and those are scheduled for October 22-23.  Although I know most dislike the process, I cannot emphasize the necessity.  Instead of trying to explain it myself, I am leaving you with two great articles written by David A. Oatis, USGA Northeast Regional Director.  See you on the course!

-Jason VanBuskirk, Superintendent