Cultural Practices Continue

In order to provide firm, true, putting surfaces at London Hunt and Country Club we are implementing a series of aggressive and non-aggressive cultural practices this season.

Vertical mowing prior to sand topdressing.  April 17, 2012.

The primary goal of these activities is to improve the growing environment of roots and crowns by introducing oxygen and sand into the rootzone.  This sand application helps cushion and protect the growing points at the same time increasing the putting greens firmness and smoothness.  In conjunction with sand topdressing we will on occasion use a variety of solid and open tines to break through surface compaction to improve oxygen exchange and water movement within the rootzone.

All cultural practices will be carried out in such a way as to minimize the impact to membership with the ultimate goal of providing superior, healthier putting surfaces.

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Hand Raking Green Side Bunkers

This season at LHCC the grounds crew will be hand raking all green side bunkers. Ken, a new staff member, is practicing his raking technique at #18.

For interest, a new rule change to the Rules of Golf 2012 states:

Rule 13-4.  Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions

Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 is amended to permit a player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time, including before playing from that hazard, provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and Rule 13-2 is not breached.

Snow in April

The abnormal weather patterns continued this past week with high winds and even snow fall on Tuesday morning.  A few trees felt the brunt of “mother nature” as can be seen in one of the photos below of a Manitoba Maple on hole # 13.  These trees are a weaker variety of Maple and are commonly susceptible to wind-throw as their root systems tend to stay close to the trunk.  This cool weather appears to be with us over the next couple days with a return to more seasonal temperatures arriving at the end of the month.

Short Range Fairway Re-Seeding

The short range practice facility seeded October 2011 has received much attention and care from the grounds crew already this spring.  The October seeding coupled with heavy winter rains, limited germination and bare soil resulted in considerable amounts of rill erosion to the fairway areas.  The putting greens, however, seeded on rapidly draining sand and covered with a perforated geo-textile germinated quickly last fall, enabling the young seedlings to establish some root mass to prevent erosion.

The need to re-grade and re-seed the fairway area however was first evident this spring and looking ahead a plan was implemented to address the needs of materials, time and labour.  First, the contractor TDI Golf was contacted and in discussion with Vice-President, Steve Tate, an agreement to mutually share the re-grading and seeding project was formed.  TDI agreed to provide labour to re-grade catch basins, rock pick and re-seed the 3 acres of fairways at no additional cost to the Club.  However, we would be responsible for material allocation, seed provision and re-grading of rill erosion areas.  With this said, 100 yards of sandy loam soil matching the existing fairway was stockpiled in the main parking lot well ahead of any construction and grading activities.

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Next, the timing of the grading work needed to coincide with frosty mornings and dry days to allow the soil material to be placed, hand graded, levelled and floated.  This opportunity presented itself the week of April 9 as consecutive frosty mornings and dry days allowed access to the fairway.  We began work earnestly on Monday, with the help of our Ty-Crop MH400 Material Delivery Unit.  This machine enabled 2 greens staff to move the 100 yards of soil and fill 3 acres of erosion channels in 1 day.  The ability of this machine to deliver large amounts of soil and sand to specific areas in a short amount of time enabled our grounds crew to manually rake, fill and grade the entire fairway  in only 2 days.  Any extra day was spent fine grading and rock picking surface stones and debris before the scheduled seeding of the range fairway on Friday. 

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Careful placement is needed                                Parachuting cover over 15,000 sq. ft.

As the seeding began on Friday morning the forecasted weather was for rain and a chance of  thunder storms over the coming weekend.  In order to help protect the seed bed from heavy rain, and further erosion, the decision was made to cover the catch basins and sloped areas with our perforated winter greens covers.   The grounds crew worked diligently and managed to cover 2 acres of seedbed by Saturday morning.   The use of the perforated covers should help mitigate the effects of heavy rain and will also cause an increase in soil temperatures to aid in seed germination.  Close watch will be kept on  the developing seedlings over the days ahead…

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March Weather Summary and Frost Delays

We have experienced unseasonably warm weather this spring although the past few weeks have brought about a drastic change in night-time lows.  These more “seasonal” temperatures have felt anything but considering the very abnormal spring temperatures to date. 

Temperatures in the London area during March averaged 8.6 °C which is 4.6 degrees above the normal high of 4 °C.  Overall, there were 10 days in March when the daytime temperature was in the 20’s.  The warmest day of the month occurred on March 22 with a high of 31.9° C.   Now, we must be prepared for frost and we have had 12 frost delays so far this spring.  Historically, the average last frost free date for London is May 9th although the rule of thumb for garden planting has been May 24th.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/statistics/temperature/cl6144475/caon0383

So what exactly is frost?  Frost is the formation of ice crystals on the outside surface of leaf blades during cold nights.  Annual plants and delicate flowers are susceptible to these freezing temperatures.  Perennial turf grass plants, however, are more tolerant to the cold but damage from frost can still occur if there is traffic on turf while the frost is present.

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Cart and foot traffic is enough to cause serious damage.  Traffic on frozen turf causes internal ice crystals to puncture cell walls within the plant.  The damage is caused internally and appears as white to tan like leaves where traffic has passed.  Damage is usually limited to leaf tissue and will remain until new growth replaces the damaged turf. 

In some cases, irrigation in the morning hours can be used to help speed up the melting process, however, our hydraulically controlled irrigation system limits this option as the irrigation control system must be turned off in minus temperatures.  Covers can also be used to protect turf from the freezing temperatures although placing and removing covers is labour intensive and primarily used to protect newly seeded or renovated turf.

Until we reach our frost free date, we will keep a vigil on Jack Frost.