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Are my Greens Still Alive?

March 27, 2014

Meteorologists in Iowa are calling it the coldest winter on record in the last 35 years, but what does that mean for my turf? Is it still alive?

The statewide avg. temperature in the last three months was 14.7 degrees, well below the 22.1-degree normal, according to State Climatologist Harry Hillaker. In addition to the extreme cold, snowfall varied considerably acrosas the state. Western Iow received far less snowfall and had a higher frequency of days above freezing. This could raise more concerns because of the increased exposure to the elements.

Research from Hoffman et al., (2010) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that annual bluegrass has a lethal temperature with 50% death (LT50) at an approximately 0.1F, while creeping bentgrass has an LT50 between -6 and -16F. These numbers are of particular concerns in relation to the 15 (Shenandoah) to 50 (Decorah) subzero days this winter across Iowa. Direct low temperature death has several factors that include hardiness level, freezing rate, thawing rate, number of times frozen and post-thawing treatment (Beard, 1973).

Below you will find a chart looking at the low temperature hardiness of several turfgrass species produced by Beard (1973).

Low-temperature hardiness

Turfgrass species

Excellent

Rough bluegrass

 

Creeping bentgrass

Good

Kentucky bluegrass

 

Colonial bentgrass

Medium

Annual bluegrass

 

Tall fescue

Poor

Perennial ryegrass

With hopefully the cold weather behind us and the last little bit of snow melting, we can start looking towards the 2014 growing season. The first step is to determine whether my greens or athletic field is alive. The best way to tell is by taking a soil sample (circular saw works well) and placing it in a greenhouse or inside where it will receive adequate light, nutrients, water, and warmer temperatures. If you begin to see new green color and growth within a few weeks, you should be fine. 

The following pictures are from Brent Smith while visiting western Illinois. I feel with a little care and fertilizer in the spring these greens should be looking great by late May, early June. In some cases, it is just a guessing game, but there is enough green tissue in the picture to convince me that they will be good. If you have large areas without green tissue, alternative options may need to be considered (sodding or interseeding).

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Are My Greens Still Alive Update

April 14, 2014

The first section of this blog will highlight a quick update from Tim at Short Hills Country Club in East Moline, IL. I posted a few pictures of Tim’s greens and damage in a previous blog. The earlier pictures were from March 24th and the second set was taken a week later on April 1st. Tim covered his greens and was getting an 8-degree temperature increase on sunny days. The soil temperatures in the Moline/Davenport area have already risen to 58 degrees in the top 4 inches. This rest of Iowa is currently in the mid to high 40’s. Tim saw increased green tissue appearing over the last week. In the upcoming weeks, he is going to hit them with a shot of soluble nitrogen and a Florentine package. They are hopeful of a full recovery by mid-late May.  Below you will see a before and after picture of the same green.

Below you will find a chart looking at the low temperature hardiness of several turfgrass species produced by Beard (1973).

Low-temperature hardiness

Turfgrass species

Excellent

Rough bluegrass

 

Creeping bentgrass

Good

Kentucky bluegrass

 

Colonial bentgrass

Medium

Annual bluegrass

 

Tall fescue

 

Red fescue

Poor

Perennial ryegrass

As we progress down the list, we are seeing additional damage. In the last few days there has been extensive damage reported to perennial ryegrass stands in central Iowa. Prairie Ridge Sports Complex in Ankeny, IA and across Saylorville Lake in Granger, IA at Jester Park Golf Course is seeing widespread damage of perennial ryegrass fairways and soccer fields. Last week, I visited Elliott Josephson at Prairie Ridge and both of his perennial rye soccer fields have extensive damage. Digging down into the P-rye, there was some slimy green tissue at the soil level, but he has not seen much recovery over the last week. Elliot decided to take a proactive approach about two weeks ago and has already initiated reseeding the field. Supplementary seeding will take place this week. These two particular soccer fields receive high amounts of play and traffic throughout the year from mid-April to mid-late November. I believe the excessive traffic and wear has contributed to the winter damage.  

 Perennial Ryegrass Soccer Field at Prairie Ridge

High traffic and wear area on field above

In addition, last week Nick and I traveled to Jester Park (pictured below) to meet with Superintendent Bob Begey who is seeing extensive perennial rye fairway damage. More information and updates will be available this week. If you are seeing damage, please let us know. 

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CAN HAND SANITIZER KILL CREEPING BENTGRASS?

May 14, 2020

Here is an interesting question.  Can hand sanitizer kill creeping bentgrass on greens?  While we didn't see this one coming, we probably should have.   Given the greater emphasis on the use of hand sanitizers during the covid-19 virus outbreak, it was inevitable that people would begin to spill it on greens.

We have known for a long time that mosquito repellent, at least most of them, can kill bentrgass.  See our previous blog on mosquito repellents.  However, we did not know the answer when it came to hand sanitizers.  When this happens, we generally set up some type of experiment to find the answer.   Ben coated his hands with Purell hand sanitizer and put 4 hand prints on a research bentgrass green at Iowa State Universities turfgrass research facility north of Ames, IA.  This was done on May 7, 2020.   At first it looked like damage would be minor, however, by day 6 there was clearly damage.  See the picture below.  So, the answer to the question is yes, hand sanitizer can definitely damage bentgrass.  We will keep you posted on the recovery time as it occurs.

 

 

 

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