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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Weather Update and Topdressing Trial

Golfers are taking advantage of the uncharacteristically warm weather with a rare January round.

Temperatures dropped into the low 40’s over the weekend as a cold front moved across the state. Considering the weather we have experienced lately however, the “cooler” temperatures haven’t felt so bad. Many parts of the state broke records last week as daytime temperatures surged into the 50’s and 60’s. Temperatures during the month of January have been just over 10 degrees higher than normal. Golfers took advantage of the mild weather last week and dusted off their clubs for a rare January outing.

Overall, temperatures have been above average since last October and this has prevented the ground from completely freezing in many parts of the state. Precipitation totals were above average for the month of December thanks in part to 3 rain events. It appears that nearly all of the precipitation that occurred in December was able to soak into the ground. This was a very welcome development over northwestern Iowa where severe drought conditions are still present.

The threat of turf damage from dessication is certainly elevated with the open winter we have experienced thus far. Dr. Christians provided a nice historical perspective of turf dessication in his posts last week along with the benefits of late fall sand topdressing. We also took the opportunity to put out a couple sand topdressing trials last week to address this issue.

We applied sand topdressing to creeping bentgrass putting green turf exposed to northwest winds that had not received any topdressing for winter protection. Sand was applied at 1/16, 1/8, 1/4, and 1/2 inches. An untreated control was also included in the trial which received no sand topdressing.

Results from this trial should tell us if there are any benefits from mid-winter sand topdressing during “open” winters and how thick of a topdressing layer needs to be applied. Special thanks to Brian Abels, Golf Course Superintendent, Jewell Country Club, and James Legg, Golf Course Superintendent, Briarwood Club of Ankeny for letting us use their facilities for this work.

Pictures of the sand topdressing trial can be seen below. We will be evaluating the effects of this trial in the spring and will post results as they become available.

A wood frame with three layers of chicken wire was positioned over each plot.  The wire helps evenly distribute the topdressing sand across the plot.



Four thicknesses of sand topdressing are being evaluated in this trial for their effect on protection from winter dessication.  An untreated control was also included.



Overall view of winter topdressing trial.  Special thanks to Brian Abels, Golf Course Superintendent, Jewell Country Club, and James Legg, Golf Course Superintendent, Briarwood Club of Ankeny for letting us use their facilities for this work.

Marcus Jones
Assistant Scientist
Iowa State University

2 comments:

ric said...

I think you will find that to much sand is just about as bad as no sand. All you really need is enough to cover the crown of the bent grass plant. I live in Saskatchewan therefore am used to cold temps. I top-dress with about .75 of a cubic yard of sand on average 6000 sq ft greens. I cover with tarps to prevent wind dessication. I look forward to your findings.
Rick Smith--Superintendent at Sask Landing Golf Resort.

Hancey said...

If the Lawn grasses can cope up with the stress, it will be healthy and dense and will be able to resist disease. Sometime the disease may spread and it becomes out of any control. However, the disease resistant cultivars can be implemented to avoid future problems.