From the Turf M.D.: Frost delays

By |  November 30, 2011

We never know what will get a reaction and what won’t. Karl and I were chatting about this just the other day.

For example, frost. I’m pretty sure the dinosaurs had to wait to tee it up on frosty mornings. Nothing new here. And yet, we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback to the below “Puttin’ Down Roots” email newsletter that went out earlier this week, about frost.

If you didn’t see this hit your email inbox, you can always subscribe here. Karl Danneberger, Ph.D., and Clark Throssell, Ph.D., send out good info twice a month in their respective email newsletters, “Puttin’ Down Roots” for Karl and “On the Green” for Clark.

Here is this month’s Roots:

Frost is a common reason for morning tee time delay. The reason for the delays is the damage that can occur from foot or equipment traffic to the turf when frost is present. Generally speaking, nice fall golfing days and frost go hand-in-hand. With more frost days expected, this is a good time to look at the conditions favorable for frost.

Frost occurs on clear cold nights when turfgrass plants re-radiate heat (exothermic reaction). As the plant loses heat to the atmosphere the plant leaf cools. If the plant temperature is cooler than the air temperature then moisture from the atmosphere will condense on the leaf. If the leaf temperature drops below freezing then the water freezes and frost forms. This will occur even if the air temperatures are slightly above freezing. At this time of the year it is not uncommon to have frost form even if the air temperature is in the mid to high 30s.

Frost itself does not cause damage, but injury does occur with traffic on frosted areas. Turf damage is generally superficial. This is not to say that traffic should be allowed on frosted turf. If traffic occurs, whether it is foot or mechanical, damage caused by crushing the leaf blade will occur. Initially the symptoms will appear purplish to black in color (almost like an excessive Iron application). The damaged turf will then progress to a straw color. If no damage occurs to the crown, recovery will occur from the generation of new leaves.

— Karl Danneberger, Ph.D.

This is posted in Columns

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