Polar vortex, mini ice age, climate change… call it what you want. This winter in Michigan, has been legitimized by colder than usual temperatures, greater than normal snowfall and the absence of warm days that melt accumulation. Spring is supposedly around the corner but when I got to work this morning it was a whopping -4°F.
At the UMGC, we are obviously concerned with what goes on underneath this white blanket. Historically, in this area of the country, we get “thaws” several times during the winter months. This season we have not had one since December 15th, 2013.
18th Green at the UMGC
We have been monitoring the health of our greens underneath the ice by taking plugs and planting them in paper cups. Greenskeeper Dean Noworyta fabricated a sharpened steel shaft with a solid plunger to remove iced plugs on greens with minimal damage done. He has been removing samples every Wednesday since the 3rd of February. Thus far, every plug has been healthy and coming out dormancy with vigor.
Research compiled the USGA tells us that bentgrass and bluegrass have a great ability to tolerate ice for up to 120 days. On the other hand, Poa annua is notorious for having very little tolerance to icy conditions of 45-90 days. The samples taken at the UMGC (with poa annua present) show no signs of ice damage.
February 19th sample after one week of growth
The crew at the golf course will continue to monitor the greens weekly for the remainder of this harsh Michigan winter. For more information please refer to the MSU Turf Blog.
Superintendent, University of Michigan Golf Course