Not Yet Fully Emerged From Winter Conditions February 27, 2015

Not Yet Fully Emerged From Winter Conditions

By Ty McClellan, Agronomist
April 14, 2009

Just as the 2009 golfing season was getting underway, Mother Nature delivered a string of frigid days complete with a thick blanket of snow across the Midwest. For some, snowfall was more like a pillowtop mattress than a blanket. Regardless, spring green-up was delayed, but has once again resumed as temperatures have warmed in recent days.

In general, golf courses across the region appear to have emerged from winter in better condition than last year. The exception, of course, as always, are golf courses that drain poorly or are heavily shaded. Both conditions increase the likelihood of experiencing winterkill injury and exacerbate damage when it does occur. Poor drainage and insufficient sunlight also slow the turfgrass recovery process. If either ailment plagues turfgrass on your golf course, it is a good idea to document such cases by taking pictures and recording notes. Don't wait until the end of this golfing season to address the need to improve drainage or remove problematic trees; begin education and communication efforts now.


Early April soil temperatures on a Chicago area putting green register at 40°F at a 2-inch depth. This temperature is much too low to support vigorous bentgrass growth or recovery, which is why core aeration and other cultivation practices are better suited in May when soil temperatures are closer to 60°F and the turf is actively growing, making for a quicker recovery.
Currently, soil temperatures across the upper Mid-Continent Region are still much too cool to support vigorous turfgrass growth of any species. A recent reading on a putting green in the Chicago District registered just 40°F. As a point of reference, soil temperatures must rise into the 60's before vigorous cool-season turfgrass growth and seedling germination occurs. With warmer air temperatures on the horizon, soil temperatures will rise and improvements in turfgrass growth, density and color should soon follow suit.

In regard to scheduling course maintenance, the month of May is ideal for completing core aeration on greens, tees, and fairways. While many courses try to schedule this practice in early April to get ahead of the busy golfing season, low soil temperatures tend to aggravate the effort by slowing the rate of turf recovery. By mid-May, soil temperatures are more likely to be hovering around the 60°F threshold, thus allowing the turf to recover most quickly (usually 10-14 days or less).

I also would like to remind everyone of the fast approaching May 15 th deadline for the reduced Turf Advisory Service (TAS) subscription fee. The fees for 2009 are as follows:

Half-day TAS   Paid before May 15, 2009 $1,800
    Paid after May 15, 2009 $2,300
Full day TAS   Paid before May 15, 2009 $2,600
    Paid after May 15, 2009 $3,100

Remember, the subscription fee is not dependent upon the actual date of your TAS visit, so it is possible to schedule a visit later in the year and still save $500, as long as your payment arrives by the May 15 th deadline.

If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, do not hesitate to contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices: Ty McClellan at or (630) 340-5853 or Bud White at or (972) 662-1138.