Winter Tips February 27, 2015

Winter Tips

By Ty McClellan, Agronomist, Mid-Continent Region
January 7, 2010

Oftentimes, golfers think winter is vacation time for the golf course maintenance staff, and they fail to realize the number of jobs on the golf course that are carried out through the winter. We are all familiar with the more common tree pruning and drainage work, but there are other key items to consider.

Winter Traffic Management

We have witnessed significant winter freezing this year and our winter is just beginning! Traffic management is critical on all grasses, but many golfers think that the dormant bermudagrass is dead and traffic will not hurt it. Superintendents recognize the potential pitfalls, but golfers need to as well, so education is critical! The freeze line in the soil profile can create a shearing of roots or rhizomes if the turf is thawed at the surface, but still frozen just below. This must be closely monitored, on a daily basis, when extreme winter conditions persist.

Weed control

Glyphosate is a common postemerge non-selective weed control for dormant, warm season grasses that is applied during the winter months. Remember, warm season grasses must be completely dormant when the product is applied. The other important tip is to apply glyphosate during the winter on days that are 50 degrees or higher for best performance. Hopefully you will be able to make your applications with these parameters for the best control.

Root Pruning

Tree root pruning is another job best done during the winter months, and one often ignored for its advantages to turfgrass health on a year round basis. Tree roots of deciduous trees can extend more than 50% beyond the drip line of the tree. This often overlooked factor is why trees have such an impact on turf health. Tree root pruning need only be done 12" to 16" deep as the majority of tree feeder roots are in the upper one foot of soil to take advantage of the oxygen present.

Dormant Feeding

Dormant feeding of cool season grasses is another practice that is not as utilized in the South as it has been in the past. Bentgrass and fescues benefit from both late season fertilization and a dormant fertilization. Dormant feeding should be a complete, slow-release fertilizer and is put down at about 3/8 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. on bentgrass greens, and about ¾ lb. N/1000 sq. ft. on other areas such as the fescue and roughs. This dormant feed allows the cool season grasses to produce as healthy a root system as possible in the early spring, and it also helps to jump start their re-growth when warmer weather allows.

Fairy Ring Control

The latest research conducted at Clemson University has shown that a very early spring application of Bayleton, followed by a repeat application in four weeks has been the best control of fairy ring both on bentgrass and bermudagrass greens. Application timing is suggested for about March 1 in the Oklahoma City to Dallas latitudes, and appropriately adjusted earlier or later based on your particular location.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful as you plan your winter work throughout the golf course and also help others understand that even in the wintertime there are specific jobs that are best adapted to these colder months. If any other questions arise, feel free to contact us.

Please come by the Green Section booth at the GIS and visit. While you’re there, plan to attend the Green Section education session the morning of Friday, February 12th. We have a great slate of topics for our program.

The 2010 USGA Green Section Turf Advisory Service (TAS) visit rates will remain the same, and you can take advantage of a significant $500 discount if you pay for your 2010 TAS visit prior to May 15th. The actual visit can take place anytime during the year, but if the visit is made before May 15th , payment needs to be received within 30 days. Download a TAS application at .

    • Half-day -- $2300 with a discount of $500 if paid by May 15 ($1800)
    • Full-day -- $3100 with a discount of $500 if paid by May 15 ($2600)

If you would like more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, contact either Mid-Continent regional office: Bud White, (972) 662-1138 or ( and Ty McClellan, or (630) 340-5853. We look forward to being of service to you and your golf course.