Athletic Fields and golf courses all over our state are taking a big hit as some are forced to close due to the most severe and widespread Winter Kill since 1994.
Winterkill affects warm season grasses such as, Bermudagrass. A favorite for fairways and a growing number of greens. Bermudagrass goes into a dormant state in winter; losing all of its color and growing characteristics. As a result, winterkill shows up only as the temperatures warm and the grass fails to wake-up. The more severe damage appears in areas that see a lot of shade, have high traffic, are north facing or stay wetter.
There is nothing that a greens keeper or field manager can do to prevent winterkill. Mother Nature sends us friendly reminders of the trials and tribulations of growing grass in the transition zone. However, the damage we have experienced over the past two winters does give us reason to rethink our field management strategies and situations.
The first two things that can be addressed –
Anything that can reduce persistently wet soil is going to improve the overall health of the turfgrass. Move or redirect water away from these persistently wet soils and you’ll be able to grow some grass there.
Tree versus Turf Battle
The problem with shade is not just the duration of the colder temperatures but also the reduced thriftiness of the turf growing under low light conditions on a regular basis. Trees provide beauty and function but there is always the potential for some selective thinning of the trees and limbing up in order to get some more light to the turf.
Heavy traffic increases the potential for winterkill. On just about every major entry and exit point onto greens, tees, fairways, 30 yard line marker on football fields and around goalie mouths of soccer – there is evidence of extreme wear. Remind your turf users that they can make a difference – by distributing traffic better…. You can use signs, ropes, and more but what’s required is a commitment by all to make a difference one person at a time.
What do we do?
Aerate and fertilize your field. The sooner we can see what is lost versus what is mere top damage from wear and tear, the better. Mow the field, this will help to wake up the grass and help it show its green. Once the extent of damage is known – we can discuss options to replant.
GrowinGreen is committed to helping you through this unfortunate situation. We will visit your field, evaluate and diagnosis the problem, then recommend a plan to bring your field back to life. We will do everything we can to ensure that opening day in August your field is ready for play.
If you think Winter Kill has taken hold in your field – there is no time to lose. Call us today!
To learn more about the affect of Winter Kill on our state, here are a few articles:
2015 Turfgrass Winterkill Update May 8, 2015 by, Mike Goatley, Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Virginia Tech
Harsh Winter Takes Toll on Triangle Golf Courses by, Luke Decock
Winterkill Hits Carolinas by, Trent Bouts, Golf Course Industry Magazine