Thursday, February 10, 2011

Greens Monitoring and Sampling

We carry out several maintenance practices on the greens during the winter.  The two main practices involve monitoring the health of the greens and “venting” our greens.  I will try to post information about venting green shortly. 

Monitoring the greens is made up of three components.  Checking the temperature sensors is the first component.  The second is physically inspecting the turf under the snow and the final step is sampling the green to asses turf health.

Monitoring Temperature:
Under the snow and tarps, we have several temperature probes which record the temperature on the surface of the greens.  All tarpped greens have three sensors.  On the seventeenth and eighteenth greens, there are addition temperature sensors buried one inch beneath the surface.  This helps us assess frost conditions in the rootzone. 

Currently the temperature probes on the surface of the greens are consistently reading -.05 to -2  oC.    The rootzone probes, located beneath the surface of the greens, indicate temperatures are averaging between .5 and 1 oC degree centigrade. In other words, the snow is insulating the surface of the greens from harsh winter conditions and there is very little frost in the rootzone of the greens.

The next step in monitoring our greens is to physically inspect the turf.  The first step in the process is to dig a pit through the snow until we find the turf, tarp, or in a bad scenario a sheet of ice.  We began this process during the last week in January.

Inspecting #5 Green - No Tarp - No Ice

A small area is cleared of snow from the green and the turf or tarp surface is inspected.  We look for several different signs including ice build up, depth of snow pack, and if there is any water on the surface of the greens.  There can be years where the snow has insulated the green surface so well that there is still water on the surface of the greens from melting snow or rain.  This moisture cause high disease pressure on the turf.

Snow Pit on Practice Green Tarp - No Ice

If we do not encounter ice we examine the turf for color and look for signs of disease.   If we do encounter ice we chip the ice away and institute what we call the “sniff test” (simply putting the nose to the turf and taking a good whiff).  Smell can be great indicator of turf health under ice.  If there is ice and the turf is struggling or dead, there may be a nasty smell from gases built up under the ice.  Once you smell it you never forget the “smell of death.”  This smell is usually a strong indicator of problems in the spring.

The final step in our monitoring process is the removal of a sample from the green.  This is accomplished in two different ways.  If the green has our new tarp system installed, a small cut is made through the tarp and the bubble wrap.  A hole-saw is used to remove a small section of the green.  In the case where there is significant ice build up or a deep frost, a modified cup cutter and sledge hammer is used.  This year the “Ice Sampler” has not been used. 

Turf on Practice Green - Small Amounts of Ice Between Bubbles

Assistant Superintendent Colin Matheson Sampling PG Green

Once the sample is removed the tarp is repaired with a special repair tape.  We mark the repair tape with the date of the repair.  The pit is then filled in with snow and the samples are taken back to the shop.

Repairing Tarp

At the shop, the green sample is examined for how much ice, if any, was on the surface.  Pictures are taken.  The sample is allowed to warm.  Once the ice is off we then give the plug another “sniff test.”  Again we are smelling for the very pungent and unforgettable rotten egg smell.  The plug is then allowed to warm in front of a window for a week or more.  If there are signs of ice damage or disease they are usually noticeable within the first few days. 

I will post pictures of samples and what we found under tarps in next day or two. 

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