Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Rain = More Ice

More rain equals more ice.  Not the most earth shattering statement.

More rain fell on the golf course on Sunday and Monday.  The rain resulted in an ice layer covering the surface of all eight untarped greens.   When I wrote my last post a week ago there were only three greens with an ice layer. 

The ice on the greens varies in thickness from 3mm (.11”) to 5mm (.19”).  The grass crowns are completely covered on all eight greens and only 20% of the leaf tips are protruding through the ice.  The ice on the greens is clear and very difficult to visually detect.   When the snow is removed, we can still see the aeration holes on the greens and the surface appears to have very little ice accumulation.  It is not until you place your hand on the surface of the greens or take a sample out of the greens, that the ice layer can be detected.  We took samples out of three greens so we could measure ice thickness at the shop.  I have included a video update and a few pictures.

3 mm Ice Thickness #4 Green

Ice Sample from #15 Green

The question is -- how should we deal with the ice?  There are two choices - remove the ice now or monitor turf health and ice levels and remove the ice in early spring.  None of the choices are good. 

Removal now means ploughing paths to all eight untarped greens, chipping the ice with an aerator, and then putting the snow back on the greens to provide insulation.  During this process there could be more snow and sudden temperature drops that would make the process more difficult and potentially expose the greens to low temperature kill.   Also if historical weather patterns for our region occur there could be more rain in January or February resulting in more ice.  If we were to attempt this process, I estimate it would take between two and three weeks to complete.

Removal of the ice layer in the spring means there will be more snow to move.  It also means we only have to deal with the ice once as we usually do not form ice from rain after February.   The danger with leaving the ice until spring is that any damage to the greens could already have occurred and our efforts would be futile.  Also we risk breaking winter hardiness of the greens and exposing the greens to unexpected low temperature kill from extreme spring temperature drops.

Again, none of the choices are good.  With the current ice thickness (minimal), the weather volatility at this time of year, and the fact that the eight untarped greens are our stronger greens, I am in favor of waiting until spring to remove the ice. 

As always I will discuss with the team and formulate a plan.  More to follow.     

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