Beware of crown hydration of bentgrass and Poa annua. After all the snow melts, it is the time of the year that severe losses of turf can occur due to a condition called crown hydration. This normally occurs on greens and shorter cut turf on semi-frozen soils. It does not matter whether it is modified soil or push up greens, they are all affected equally. With frozen or half frozen soils, the water cannot percolate to any drains, so the surface becomes saturated with water. After the thaw, if the temperatures take a sudden drop to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the crown cells, (where growth originates), can flash freeze and rupture. When this happens, the plant dies.

The Poa annua plants are more susceptible to crown hydration injury than the bent grass because the Poa will wake up and begin to grow sooner than the bent (usually about 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Unfortunately, as a turf manager, there is not much you can do to eliminate the possibility of crown hydration. However, there are some precautions you can take. One thing you can do is treat the turf in the late fall with fertilizers, which are low in nitrogen and high in potassium. This will help the plant convert energy to carbohydrates and starch, thus strengthening the plant coming out of winter. The other, more difficult thing to do, is to eliminate low areas on the greens that tend to gather and hold water. Surface contouring is very important.

If you suspect crown hydration, take a sample or plug from the affected area and bring it into your maintenance building where it is warm. If the turf begins to green up and grow, do not worry. If it does not, begin an over-seeding program as soon as possible. You want to attempt to get as much bent grass back into those affected areas as possible. Also, it is a good time to use some of our Foliar Pak products, along with some Holganix. Foliar Pak products to consider might be A.S. Fusion, (an ammonium sulfate nitrogen source), Micros Plus, L-18 Activator, Promote or BioSea. Make certain soil temperatures are at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit when applying Holganix. Your Advanced Turf Solutions sales representative can help you with these products. The only other thing you will need is some good growing weather and some luck from Mother Nature.