Friday, February 24, 2017

"Winter" Update

What an amazing couple of days of warm weather that was!  The long range calls for warmer than normal temperatures for the next week and then slowly returning to normal for this time of year. It was great to wear shorts and a t-shirt in February in Canada but what does it mean for our turf? We took the time to check under our greens covers and blow some cool air under them on the warmest days. The reason for this is that the solid plastic cover acts like a greenhouse and the temperatures can warm up to the point where the grass comes out of dormancy and starts using oxygen for respiration (the process by which plants convert sugar to energy for growth). Without going into all the details, the problem with this happening is the lack of oxygen combined with increased levels of carbon dioxide can become toxic in the closed system underneath the cover. The telltale sign of this is a rancid smell when the cover is lifted. Using a backpack blower to blow air underneath the covers gets rid of any toxic gases and cools down the temperature. We could also remove the covers entirely but we felt that we still may experience some winter weather in which they would be needed. The good news is we detected no signs of any kind of winter injury and everything looks very good at this point in time. We still have the potential for unusual weather and we will continue to monitor the situation closely as we head into spring. Based on the warm weather all winter I have a feeling we will see an early spring this year.

#18 on a warm February morning

#14 with cover in place. Note the snow mould in the untreated rough.

#5 is the last green to lose snow cover.
The only damage we have experienced thus far is some light snow mould in the rough which we do not treat preventatively with fungicides in the fall.  This is typical for our property and if we did not treat our tees, greens, and fairways we would experience varying degrees of turf loss every winter. Some years would be devastating.  The reason I mention this is that on March 2nd the CBC will be airing a documentary entitled, "Dad and the Dandelions."  Based on the trailer, this documentary will attempt to link pesticide use on golf courses to cancer. Click here to watch trailer

This is an emotional topic which will no doubt generate questions and discussion.  I am not an expert on pesticide safety or cancer but Health Canada employs many people that are. I trust the fact that they are using a science based approach to approve products which are safe to use in Canada. If you have any questions or concerns about this topic please call or email me to discuss them. The following link is to a video that explains the difference between correlation and causation which is very appropriate for this topic. It is about 5 minutes long and well worth watching. Causation vs Correlation 

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