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Frost Delays - who needs 'em?!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

In my opinion, fall is the absolute best time of year.  To fine-tune my favoritism, I’m perfectly comfortable in stating that the month of October is by far the absolute, 100%, no questions asked, best month of the year.  As the weather begins to transition from summer to fall, Mother Nature’s greatest show begins to unfold and all broadleaf plants begin take the spotlight with their spectacular transformation.  Their annual wardrobe change from differing shades of summer green to a varietal palette of reds, yellows, and oranges provides a perfect backdrop for your round of golf out on the course.  As many of you know, the arrival of fall golf also means the arrival of the ever-frustrating “Frost Delay”.  The intent of this post is to provide a little more information to you, so you have a better understanding of what frost is and what it can do to the course.

To begin, the USGA has made a number of videos explaining frost, this one seems to be the least like a middle school science video.

If I haven’t lost you after the video, hopefully you’ve gained a little bit of an understanding of what frost is and its effect on start times.  As a turf manager, I have to admit that frost has a bad rep to it!  As frustrating as it may be, there are some benefits to that icy layer forming on the turf.  Most noticeable to you, the golfer, is the fact that the cold temperatures and frost are incredibly effective growth regulators.  Once the plant experiences a frost, top growth slows down dramatically.  For instance, in-season we might get 5-6L of growth/day on hole number 3 (we actually do measure clipping amounts for each cut).  Since the weather has cooled down, our latest volumes have dropped to less than half of those rates.  The result is excellent performing greens (think double cut quality greens) with no added labor inputs.

In addition to growth regulation, frost is also a fantastic herbicide for problematic weeds such as crabgrass, goosegrass, and other warm season pests that have intruded.  Additionally, if you read my last blog post, you’ll know that herbicide applications to those difficult-to-control broadleaf weeds are much more effective when timed around the first frost.

As I wrap up this stimulating post about frost, I hope you have a greater appreciation for those frost delays, as frustrating as they may be.  Thank you for taking the time to read through an article about ice!

Scott LesChander
TPCC Grounds Superintendent

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Anonymous, 10/27/2019 9:06:16 PM EST   55555

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