Last month while at a turfgrass conference in Victoria, B.C. I had some awesome discussions with other turfgrass professionals about their experience with winter damage recovery. The following 2 strategies are things that I picked up from others, and will be trying and sharing about this spring.
There really isn't much info out there about this relatively old practice. It's kind of funny because when it was suggested that I prime my seed to speed germination it was new to me even though it is exactly what we do for our wet divot mix that we put down on our tees! I had just never thought about doing it for greens.
The thing about winter damage is that it rarely happens when the winters are easy and warm. It happens during the bad winters and this only makes recovery more difficult. It is currently mid March and I have bentgrass growing from seed on my greens even though the average temperature this month has been only 5c (41F).
There are some rather complicated ways of seed priming but I decided to keep it simple. I decided to prime 5KG of dominant extreme 7 bentgrass seed.
Step 1: Soak Seed in water for 2 days at 20C. I didn't use any fancy air bubblers, just seed in water and stirred it a few times each day and kept the lid on.
Step 3: I mixed the primed seed with 25Kg compost and 25Kg sand. The sand helped break up the seed clumps and the compost helped retain moisture. I then added some water to the mixture and covered it with a plastic bag to keep the humidity up. I stored the mixture in our lunch room at 30 C (86F) for 2 days. I turned the mixture a few times each day.
|plastic bag used to keep mixutre humid.|
|After 2 days in the sand/compost mixture the seed started to pop.|
|Test batch (3 days in sand) germinated less than 1 week after taking it outdoors.|
First we dimple tined the greens with our aerator. If course we had to shovel the snow off the greens first!
|Gross. Thankfully we don't get winter like this very often.|
|Homemade dimple tines|
Then we tried spreading it with a drop spreader with no success, it was still too wet to spread.
|Trying to dry mixture for spreading with no luck|
Yes we sowed the seed by hand! To get even coverage we further diluted the mixture 50/50 with sand to allow us to throw more material with less seed to hopefully get better coverage.
After spreading the seed we blew the mixture to try and get it into the holes we punched. Then we rolled the greens.
|A roll and a blow|
|Baby bentgrass growing after 2 weeks with 5c average temps. Seeded 1 day later and it would be a week ahead.|
|Pre-germ that was kept indoors in sand for 3 days at 30C 2 weeks after planting outdoors. Photo: John Taylor|
I'll keep everyone updated on how the recovery goes this spring. Will it make a difference? I don't know. I do know, that the seed I didn't prime, still hasn't germinated (I also have a test for that with 0 growth yet).
While at the same conference it was suggested that we try vegetative propagation to re-establish the damaged areas. We were talking with Larry Stowell who informed us how Torrey Pines converted their bentgrass greens to poa.
Basically they cored the greens they wanted to covert with a large hollow tine. Something like 5/8" and removed the cores. Then they cored the greens they wanted to use as a source of poa with 1/2" cores. They then spread the poa cores to the bentgrass greens and brushed them into the open holes.
This exact same thing could be done on greens damaged in the winter. Core the dead areas, and spread cores from live areas into the holes on the dead spots. No sod, no seed.
I won't be trying this method this year but a friend of mine might be. I'll pass on the results if it ever warms up enough to see results!
So there you go, 2 ways of dealing with winter damage that aren't often talked about. Maybe it is because they aren't worth doing? I don't know. What I do know is that regardless of what you do, the most important thing is temperature which we have little control over. I wonder if this will result in quicker recovery or if seed planted later when it's warmer will quickly make up lost ground with the warmer temps?
|Using black impermeable tarps to get warm temps to push germination on sunny days.|