March 13, 2012

Spring Update

Below is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote on November 3rd last year after we finished our snowmold spraying applications....

On a side note, I made the decision not to apply snow mold fungicide to the lower part of 9 fairway and all of 17 fairway, as these two areas in particular have been a total loss 3 out of the last 3 years from the floods.  I guess it just seemed like a reasonable risk to take to save the money that will be wasted if the flood kills all the grass there anyway.  It was kind of a roll of the dice, but if we happen to luck out enough to not have to reseed those two areas after the flood in the spring, having a little bit of snow mold to deal with will still feel like a walk in the park!

Well, the dice were certainly rolled, and of course it is doubtful at the current time that we will see a flood event large enough this spring to kill 9 and 17 fairway.  And of course, that in and of its self is definitely a blessing.  However, now we are left to deal with the other end of that gamble from last fall.

Lines from where the sprayer booms were turned off
at the lower part of 9 fairway from last fall.

Textbook Grey Snow Mold under where a little drift sat
on the untreated side of 9 fairway.
As you can clearly see, the top part of 9 fairway that received our full snow mold treatment last fall is not only disease free, but the turf is quite dense and robust (although a little brown and dorman still.)  There are perfect lines from where the booms on the sprayer were turned off last fall leaving the lower part of 9 fairway untreated, resulting in what appears to be 50%-80% disease coverage.  We experienced a total of 71 days of snowcover this winter, which I'm guessing is about 20-30 days fewer than average in this part of the country.  Snow mold disease pressure starts to ramp up at about 60 days, and gets pretty intense after 90 days.  Apparently 71 days here is plenty enough though....

The good news is, there doesn't appear to be one breakthough of even a tiny bit of snow mold on any of the rest of the greens, tees, and fairways.  Only the bottom part of 9 and most of 17 fairway got hit, which was to be expected.  Fortunately, although the sight of the snow mold damage will stick around for a bit in those two fairways, we can do a few other things to speed up the recovery in those spots.  Grey snow mold doesn't actually kill the turf plant, just the living foliage.  Once green up occurs here in the next few weeks, we will verticut and fertilize the snow mold areas and they should grow out of their damage on their own in only a couple of extra weeks.  Might be a little unsightly, but it is still better than being drowned out in a flood.

Two other side notes:  the snowfence we up up on the backs of the greens last fall seems to have done a great job holding the snow on the greens.  No greens appear to be very dessicated or show signs of severe cracking from the deep freeze.  Also, the ice damage from the snowmobiles at this time doesn't appear to have caused too much damage on the greens.  There will definitely be a little bit of dead Poa here and there, but nothing too bad.

Ice from the snowmobiles on the side of 16 green
is clearly visible as the snow starts to melt off.
And of course, the question I know is in everyone's mind......How soon will the course open?  Well, the answer to that is, I have no idea.  This will be my second spring in North Dakota, and I have a feeling we are going to experience the polar opposite of 2011, but I've been wrong before.  The course obviously has some serious drying out to do in the next couple weeks, and who knows if this stretch of nice weather is going to stick around for any length of time.  My best guess would be to say that we should all be pretty ecstatic if we were playing golf by the beginning of April, and already had our spring mini-flood out of the way.

Hole 6 during the melt off on Monday, looks like we got our flood
on the high holes this spring...

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