Wednesday, February 12, 2014

For Once in my life...........even I'm sick of winter

The winter of 2014 will not soon be forgotten. After the destructive ice storm that damaged so many trees across the property, Kyle and I made a plan to begin clean up only to find that it was very dangerous for the two of us trying to move around because of the slippery ice layer and for the tractors we were using to help with the chore. On the first day of our clean up Kyle and I fell numerous times and we found even the 4 wheel drive tractors were sliding around because of the ice. Knowing we couldn’t wait until we had a melt to continue I found some ice traction pull ons that we installed over top of our work boots which have carbide lugs on the bottom allowing us to walk on the ice with excellent traction.
We also had to investigate and purchase new industrial tires for the tractors as the turf tires they have allowed no room to add chains for added traction we needed.
It was slow going compared to trying to clean up a tree with no snow or ice to deal with, but we did make pretty good progress. Because of extreme cold temperatures there were days on end which we did not get out on the course. When we could get outside progress was steady, but only for branches on top of the snow and Ice. Many more are currently encased in ice and snow and until we get a melt we don’t even know how much material is buried.  Additional snow falls only hampered our efforts. As of today we have the back 9 complete once through, and have not yet started the front 9 clean up.  However we now have another issue on our minds. After the ice storm we received a warm spell with rain. This event lead to a layer of ice on our greens surfaces. It has been something we were monitoring, but today marks day 30 of ice coverage on the putting surfaces. It’s time for us to change gears. Our high Poa population on these putting surfaces can survive 45 days under such an ice cover before the Poa succumbs to gas build up and dies. Upon making numerous test digs we found we actually had two separate layers of ice buried under approximately 30 cm of snow.
This is an excellent photo of the three distinct layers. Snow on top, a crisp ice layer in the middle, and the black layer at the bottom is the ice that is right on the turf surface.
This photo shows the middle ice layer which has snow on either side of it. If it were just this ice under our snow, we would not be concerned at all as there is significant room for oxygen and gas exchange in the snow layer below the ice.
Even with the new industrial tread tires we have gotten the 4 wheel drive tractors stuck numerous times. once the frame is dragging through the snow drift, a rescue is required.
The thick layer of snow is, by itself a good thing that insulates the turf from the extreme cold temperatures we have experienced this winter. The upper layer of ice is in between two layers of snow and is in no way causing harm to the turf. But a second ice layer right on the turf surface is an issue. And in order to get to this layer, we need to get all the other layers off the surface. This past Monday we began removing snow from the greens in order to apply an organic fertilizer directly to this ice layer which will speed to melting of this ice. You may remember the winter of 2010 also had a significant layer of ice which was much thicker than we currently have. Back in 2010 the ice came much earlier and was far thicker requiring us to proceed with mechanical removal of the ice. This time around we are removing the layers above the ice, and will let the organic fert melt the ice for us. A warming trend over the next 10 day is perfect weather for all the pieces to fall into place.  In an ideal world we would prefer to have the snow cover on the greens surface until a normal melt occurs in mid March, but this year we cannot afford to wait any longer.                    

Step one is getting the equipment to the green site. Then the snow blower clears the top layer of snow off to expose the mid ice layer.
This mid ice layer is so tough, the only way we could get through it is by scraping the bucket of the loader across the ice surface. We will come back early next week to apply our organic granular fertilizer.

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