This winter has had its toll on everyone reading this blog. Unfortunately it may also have some negative affects to the golf course. Some of you may have read the article in the Guelph Mercury two weeks ago today. Area golf courses were asked about the amount of snow and the cold temperatures we have experienced this winter and if there were any concerns for the golf course. The amount of snow will definitely be a benefit to the area’s water table. Water availability is a huge concern in the Guelph area especially because the main source of water is from underground aquifers. This winter should replenish the aquifiers which is a good thing for all involved. The snow cover will also provide insulation for the turf which is also a good thing as long as your sensitive turf has been protected with a fungicide for snow mould. One main concern this winter is a thick ice layer which developed from the ice storm back in December and another thaw and rain event in early January. Putting greens can withstand about 60 days under ice for annual bluegrass (poa annua) or 90 days for creeping bentgrass. The East course being an older course has a high percentage of annual bluegrass and therefore is more the concern than the newer Valley course which is 100% creeping bentgrass. Even though the ground is frozen and the turf is dormant, it is still alive and gives off gases. If the gases are trapped by a layer of thick ice the turf will be straved of oxygen and may die after a period of time. This is called anoxia. This did occur in 2010 at the East course. We have been very proactive this week trying to remove the snow and ice to allow some of these toxic gases to escape. We were having good sucesss with mild temperatures on Monday and Tuesday but the storm on Wednesday and back to below normal temperatures today has slowed us down. The following pictures describe the sequence of events to date. My feeling is the will probably be some turf loss but it is too early to tell how much. I do feel our efforts over the last few days has helped. I will keep you posted.
Initial removal of snow down to first ice layer March 4,2014
Jason Sewell taking a sample with a drill and a plumbing core bit. This is done to access the extent of the damage if any.
Pulling out the sample plug in the frozen green. There is an ice layer followed by a few inches of snow followed by an ice layer directly on the green. In some areas this is 2 inches thick.
Green plugs that have been brought in after one week. There is definately some damage.
Chris Shurrmans is digging down to the bottom ice layer. March 10,2014
The bottom ice layer is being exposed. It is thick enough not to cause damage to the green.
Only the bottom ice layer remains. The temperature is 8 degrees Celcius March 10.
Jason is spreading black sunflower seeds on the ice layer on # 9 green. Black seeds will absorb the sun and help melt the ice. The seeds will also melt through the ice releasing the toxic gases. This a brand new idea we just heard about that morning and tried it.
The black sunflower seeds are definately working.
The sunflower seeds have definately worked. This is #9 green one day later – March 11, 2014
Some channels have been made through the melting ice to help the water drain before it freezes again the next day.
# 2 green on March 11 one day after we exposed the ice layer and spread the black sunflower seeds.