I find in incredibly ironic that the “Snow Event” we remember for 2012 might be a 3 or 4 cm dusting we received Saturday night. So it looks more and more that the winter of 2012 will go down in history as the winter that never was………at least in this part of the world. If you have watched any of the news many parts of Europe are experiencing the worst winter in decades. Record low temperatures and snow falls have killed many people through out the continent. Go on to the Internet and look at the snow Japan is getting, you’d think the photos and videos were taken in the mountains of British Columbia! Just check out the link below!
This just reaffirms there is no “normal” when it come to weather patterns.
The “weather experts” were calling for a snowy winter with normal temperatures in this part of the world for 2012. But as you know what we have received up until the middle of February are records being broken for lack of snow, and mild temperatures. Now in a traditional winter in southern Ontario, a lack of snow cover results in dead turf due to desiccation, which quite simply is the plant being freeze dried. This is caused when freezing cold winds blow down from the arctic, draw all the moisture out of the plant causing dehydration, and eventually death. But luckily for us, we really haven’t seen much in the way of cold arctic air this winter. The minor damage we do have is all on the upper part of the leaf blade. Once mowers have been out a couple times this upper leaf damage will be mowed off leaving healthily turf behind.
If you look closely, you will see the top of the leaf blades browned off. This damage is from cold dry winds pulling moisture out of the leaf blade. Allowing the turf to grow longer than usual heading into winter helps protect the lower part of the plant. I call this sacrificial leaf blade because we know its going to be lost during the winter. The course may have an ugly brown look to it as we approach spring, but its nothing to be concerned about.
All greens received an early winter top dressing which also protects the plant from winds when snow cover is not present. A close inspection of all areas of the golf course last Friday (February 10th) reveals only very small pockets of ice in the 5th and 13th fairways, and minor ice on a few tees. No ice on any greens what so ever, and all turf is currently in exceptional shape heading into the end of winter. I would estimate that 90% of the potential problems we might experience due to winter are now behind us.
So does this lack of winter mean an early spring opening? Well, most likely not. The single most important condition we MUST have on the golf course before we open is dry firm ground. We still have significant frost in the ground which must come out before we open, and to think we won’t be getting any rain as we approach the spring is highly unlikely. As a matter of fact, it’s the spring rains that really take the majority of the frost out of the ground for us. If we had to wait for the air temperature to penetrate the soil to melt the frost, we’d be waiting well into summer. And furthermore, having the frost out of the top of the soil, but with frost remaining further down, traps water in the upper soil causing saturated conditions. Allowing any type of traffic, even foot traffic, onto this type of condition would leave deep ruts, causing significant damage. We can be very frustrated some springs when we have weather conditions conducive to getting outside and beginning the clean up and course preparation for opening, but can’t because of the damage we would cause due to wet conditions.
All we can really do now is wait patiently to see what the next six weeks has in store for us!
It really won't be all that long.............................
.....................before the course is back to this!