November 16, 2015 at 10:12 am

At about this time of year, when I was a golf course superintendent myself, I began looking forward to winter weather and a much-needed break from the sun and heat that makes the summer seem to drag at times. Mother Nature has granted us with great weather this fall and many of you are still out mowing and keeping those fall golfers happy. However, we all know what is coming our way soon. It won’t be long before you will be itching to get back outside in weather that is 44 degrees and breezy and feels like a heat wave. Anyway, at about this time, I would be just about finished up with my pre-winter checklist of things that I must have done. Here are a few of those items you might be finishing up with as well as a few additional items to consider:

  • Aerification (Every superintendents favorite job.)
  • Winterize irrigation system and pumphouse
  • PCNB or snow mold control
  • Leaves/leaves/leaves
  • Marking all valves/drains etc

The past few winters have arrived quickly and have produced record low temperatures, high winds, and extended periods of ice cover on turf, which are all tough on the plant. In some cases, we have noticed areas of winter kill or crown hydration, which are due to the unpredictable elements we see throughout the winter months. Here are a few ways you can help protect your most valuable turf and come through the winter months healthy and ready for a great 2016.

First, I want to remind everyone of the importance of a late topdressing to protect the crowns of your plant. Past winters have brought extended periods of cold weather, without a layer of snow to protect the turf, and this produces snow mold. Snow mold is not the only concern when winter arrives. High winds can cause major stress to unprotected turf, especially, on mounds and high points of your golf course. Adding a heavier layer of topdressing sand to your greens, once you are ready to put the mowers away for the season, will help protect from such elements.

Many superintendents are also applying wetting agents late in the fall. Anticipating the cold and snow of winter, you may have already winterized your irrigation system. By adding a wetting agent, you ensure any rain we receive in the fall reaches the root zone in your greens and helps the plant during those random warm/dry stretches of weather we have seen in the past few weeks.

Also, an application of a wetting agent will help protect your plant from crown hydration this winter. Crown Hydration occurs when water on the turf’s surface freezes before it has a chance to drain. The freezing of this water can cause the cells inside of the plant to rupture and cause damage or death to the plant. An application of Hydro-Pak Command, Precision Labs Vivax, or Aquatrols Revolution or Dispatch, will help reduce the risk of crown hydration, while also keeping the surface of your putting green firm and draining properly. Usually, we get a mid-winter warm spell and all of the snow will begin to melt. This application of a wetting agent will help drain the surface water before the next cold snap.

Hopefully, Mother Nature has a mild winter in store for us, unlike the past two years.  Anything you can do to help protect your high value turf this winter will help you hit the ground running for a great 2016.  In the mean time, stay warm, enjoy the last few days without carharts and look forward to warmer weather.