Friday, February 19, 2016

Interesting colors in turf this winter

Since early January, we have been seeing some interesting color patterns on a few tees at Sugar Creek.  In late January, after a snow melt, I was asked if the patches on the 4th tee were snow mold.  From a distance, they did resemble pink snow mold patches, but I did not think that was possible given the conditions we've had.

This was the first area I looked at:

4th tee
It became obvious that they had to have been caused by footprints -- but how?  This area gave another clue:

4th tee
 The snow in these areas melted first in the footprints.  This tee is shaded, so snow lasts here longer than open areas.  There must have been a time when the the snow protected the green areas from freeze injury.  A look at the weather history allowed me to narrow the date of the event to January 17th and 18th. 

January 2016 weather looked like this:

Turf at the course was green all of December and into January.  In mid January, it was covered by snow and still green underneath.  Then we had a real cold snap on the 17th and 18th and most areas turned brown.  The few areas under snow remained green.  I kept expecting the color difference to even out, but for a while the difference became more pronounced due to above average temperatures.

1st tee - February 4th

1st tee - February 4th
These spots are still visible, but less obvious as of this writing - February 19th.  Often you can see this phenomenon where there are snow piles or drifts melting, but it is rare to see pronounced footsteps like this.  It took a very specific weather pattern to cause this, so I thought it was worth memorializing.

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