Here we are in mid-January and the weather so far this winter, to say the least, has been extreme. Most of the eastern half of the US has had their fair share of below normal temperatures and recently my friends down south have had to deal with rare snow events. And out west, well, we’ve all seen the horrible damage caused by wind driven wildfires.
Where I live in Upstate New York, in recent weeks we’ve been suffering through temperatures way below normal. Heck, I’ve seen some overnight temperatures up in the Adirondack Mountains in the minus 20 to 30-degree range. Where I live down in the flatlands, we’ve had some balmy 6 to 10 below morning temps. However, as I sit here writing the article we’re at 26 degrees above and we’ve had about 6 inches of snow overnight. What’s your point you may ask? After all, it is winter.
Earlier this week I had a voice mail on my landline. Sure, I still have a landline but for emergency purposes only because 911 responders can pin point your location immediately. Oh, by the way, I am pretty proficient with my iPhone. But I digress. The voice on the other end of the line was informing me that my 50th UMass college reunion was coming up in April. Geez! I looked at the phone and said “Wait! What? Are you talkin’ to me!” Oh man, that was a quick 50 years! So, other than some paychecks from Uncle Sam back in the day, every penny I’ve ever earned has been in the turf industry. That’s a lot of years suffering through some very severe Northeast winters. To quote the Farmers Insurance guy, “I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.”
Now, at last to the point of this blog. Last week here in Upstate NY we had a couple of unusually warm days ending with a day around 60 degrees. Obviously, what snow and ice we had disappeared rather quickly leaving us with super saturated soils. However, when I checked the temperature the next morning, we were at minus 2 degrees.
So, what does the rapid freeze up mean to the health of our turf in the Northeast? No one knows for sure but I can tell you from experience, it ain’t good. I believe that rapid freeze up has left our turf, especially Poa Annua, weakened. Between now and when our turf breaks winter dormancy in late March or early April, we could be looking at crown hydration, low temperature kill or plenty of good ol’ desiccation. Like I say, no one knows what to expect come spring.
Here’s the take home message: document, document, document. Be prepared to effectively communicate the challenges you have experienced. And above all else, have a plan in place to help your turf recover as quickly as possible. And yeah, I know a thing or two about golfers as well, they’re an extremely impatient bunch!