March 26, 2013

Its Go Time!

After 2012 was the year without a winter, it appears that 2013 is going to be the year without a spring.  Temperatures refuse to get anywhere even close to normal.  We should be into the low 40s everyday now.  Since Thanksgiving, about 120 days, we have recorded 10 days that have been at or above 32 degrees.  That is probably about normal, oddly though most of those days (7) came during January!  Based on the forecast for these remaining few days or March, we are going to end up with more days in January above freezing that we will have had in March.  That seems like it is probably a little backward.....

At some point, if spring doesn't want to happen on its own, then we have to make it happen ourselves!  During the 6 years I spent in Montana, it was a spring ritual to go out in the beginning of April and remove the snow from the greens.  The turf can only take so many days under snow (and even worse, under ice which was our case this winter) and just needs to see the light of day and get some fresh air.  This will give the greens a head start on growth and recovery so that by the time the rest of the course melts off, hopefully the greens are in pretty good shape.

I have historically always used a tracked skid steer with a snowblower, but all that we have at our disposal here is a 3-point PTO operated blower for our tractor, so that was what we used!  Makes it really tricky playing the wind when blowing snow in an open cab tractor....

Had to put in a picture of what we were up against in the spring in
Montana.  Lots of work just to give the greens a few weeks headstart.

Andy taking the snow off of 16 green.

18 green almost cleared off

After the tractor takes off the majority of the snow, we spread a black
organic fertilizer that helps melt the thin remaining layer of snow and ice.
After a few hours in the sun, we use shovels to remove the remaining
slush and get all the way to the grass.

Last year this obviously wasn't an issue since the thin layer of snow that we had in the middle of March melted in only 2 days when the temperatures quickly spiked into the 70s.  This year, with still close to a foot and a half to two feet of snow on the ground and long range forecasts not giving any glimpse of a quick warm up, this is our only resort.  Desperate times call for desperate measures!


  1. Sam, I often cheat on this blog with another one, from a course called Hazeltine National. On their blog they have uncovered the putting green to use as a trial run for not covering their greens all winter and they mention dormancy for both bentgrass and poa. Correct me if I am wrong but if the green is uncovered, blown off, and sees sun, poa will come out of dormancy and will most likely die from exposure to cold weather where bentgrass will not. With the large amount of poa on the greens of the GFCC do you think a lot of this will happen and you will be able to finally get rid of it and reseed good bentgrass?

  2. Matt - There is no such a thing as getting rid of Poa without fumigation or resodding. There is a reason that so much of it has taken over to begin with. It will regrow under any conditions and is a prolific seed producer. Our Poa will likely be all dead this spring because of the ice layer we had form back in January. The bentgrass will be very well alive. However, there are already about 6 billion Poa seeds sitting dormant in the soil ready to pop once the soil warms up just a bit.