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GAC Minutes 2003 04/24Report on Ice Damage at the McCall GC By Dan Pillard, CGCS, CA Director of Golf and Parks Operations City of McCall Annually we monitor the turfgrass conditions underneath the snowpack. This is done annually around Mid March This year we checked on March 10th. At that time we discovered a 4" to 6" layer of ice under two feet of snow. For the last five years we were able to dig down all the way to the turf through soft snow. Each year we discovered the turf was in excellent shape with good green color. During the last five years we allowed the snow to melt naturally which occurred around the end of May. After discovering the ice layer, several test holes were dug on several different greens. We determined the ice layer was consistent throughout the golf course, mainly on green surfaces. Within these test areas, we broke the ice to examine the condition of the turf. The turf produced a strong odor which indicated the presence of trapped gases, limiting gas exchanges between the turf canopy and the surrounding atmosphere. Shortly after this discovery research was done to determine the effects of extended ice covers and its relationship to the survival of creeping bentgrass. Expert opinion varied from 127 days to 60 days for the ice to create permanent damage on bentgrass and 60 to 40 days for damage to annual bluegrass. Our greens contain 30-40% annual bluegrass. The following contacts were made: • Dr. Joseph Dipaola, Ohio State University Syngenta Corporation • Dr. Rock Gaussion, University of Nebraska • Dr. Tony Koski, Colorado State University • Dr. Joe Vargas, Michigan State University • Dr. Mike Stafford, United Horticultural Supply • Charles Golob, Research Specialist, Washington State University • Jeff Spangler, Director of Agronomy, Troon Corporation • Jeff Jackson, Technical Representative, Simplot Turf • Matt Nelson, USGA Agronomist, Northwest Region • Bob Vareck, USGA Agronomist, Northcentral Region • Steve McCarley, Superintendent, Meadowcreek Resort, New Meadows, ID • Rick Moony, Superintendent, Whitetail Club, McCall, ID • Steve Maas, CGCS, The Valley Club, Haley, ID • Ken Zimmerman, Superintendent, Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley, ID After contacts were made and the gathering of information completed, the course of action was determined. First we had to determine when the ice was formed and how long it has been there. We checked the local weather records and observations. Last year, during the first two weeks of November the McCall Area experienced a very hard freeze with little snowfall. This continued through the month. At that time the ground was frozen near the surface at significantly higher than normal levels. A following period of snowfall combined with alternate freezing and thawing periods led to a buildup of an ice layer on the surface. Our greens were built like most greens, constructed and located in a way to hold moisture more efficiently than a fairway or tee area. The surrounding mounding, collars and controlled perched water tables contributed to a virtual ice rink on our green surfaces. We believe the ice formed late in November or in Early December. After concluding when the formation of the ice cover occurred, we determined that when the ice was discovered on March 10th, we were approaching critical levels for the survival of creeping bentgrass and annual bentgrass. We continued to check the underlying turf daily from March 10-24th . The turf showed some decline in color and odor during this time. The consensus of the experts was that the ice would kill a significant portion or the entire green surface if we leave it until natural melt off in early May. The main cause of death due to ice covers is the excess accumulation of toxic gasses, mainly carbon dioxide, cyanide and oxygen. Another consideration was the exposure of the turf to freezing and thawing conditions after the removal of the ice. Winterkill or crown hydration will occur to the exposed turf without protection. During these alternate freezing and thawing conditions, ice crystals form inside cell walls and expand due to freezing. The expansion ruptures the membranes and draw moisture from the cell causing death. The decision was made to remove the ice and take a chance on saving as many crowns as possible. With crowns, the turfgrass will recover, even if the leaf blades are dead. The survival of the crowns can be enhanced significantly with synthetic greens covers. These specially designed covers keep heat in during daylight and help protect the plant from frost and ice at night. At the McCall Golf Course we removed over two feet of snow over the ice layer. We removed the snow on 6 greens on March 21 st, 8 greens on March 22nd, 7 greens on March 23`d, and 7 greens on March 24th_ The first greens exposed showed some color which led us to expect them to be saved. During the last two weeks we have had multiple freeze/thaw periods that have damaged the many green crowns we had two weeks ago. We took a trip to Meadowcreek Resort, where they are using green covers. They looked at our greens and commented that their greens looked like ours before they covered them. Some of the greens we looked at were completely grown in. New meadows is about three to four weeks ahead of us with weather. At this point we recommend covering the greens along with an extensive overseeding program designed to enhance as much growth before Memorial Day. The following measures can be made to minimize damage under similar conditions, the McCall Area experiences these conditions about every 15 years. Steps to manage greens in the McCall Area. • Monitor ice forming conditions beginning at two week intervals after significant snowfall. • Determine the average natural melt off date and use that as a reference for acceptable durations of ice cover. • If significant ice forms prior to January, remove the ice and recover before any thaw periods. • Utilize green covers as a tool for cold weather turf management. • Do not expose turf before Late April, Early May or until low temperatures are above freezing. • Increase carbohydrate levels prior to dormancy. Steps made in 2003 • March 21-24, removal of snow to facilitate ice removal. • March 24-31, warming trend melted ice. • Greens show promise with color, color may have been preserved with ice cover, masking damage. • April 1-15, alternate freeze/thaw periods turn greens off color. • Staff recommends overseeding the greens when soil temperatures reach 59 degrees. • Staff recommends using covers to speed up the recovery process before opening in late May. Summary In summary, staff supports the decision to remove the ice. Staff decided to leave areas to test by leaning untouched sections on some greens. These test areas will help reinforce our decision. While it is always easy to second-guess decisions, no one can predict exact weather conditions or environmental stresses. The best thing one can do is to take experiences like this, learn as much as possible, do research and formulate a plan to enhance our ability to manage turf in this unique climate. Staff recommends the use of turf covers as a valuable tool in the management of bentgrass, in this climate. Staff recommends utilizing the above procedures to aid in the prevention of future occurrences. Special Meeting GOLF COURSE ADVISORY COMMITTEE AGENDA Thursday, Apri124th, 2003 5:00 PM CLUBHOUSE Call To Order and Roll Call Call To Order Roll Call Public Requests or Comments Staff Reports Allan Morrison, PGA Professional Dan Pillard CGCS New Business Report on Ice Damage -Greens Recovery Program Old Business Equipment Replacement Program Update Call For Additional Items Adjournment