Temporary greens (why?)

Firstly I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and I wish everyone of you reading a happy prosperous new year. Let’s hope 2020 is a drier year and certainly in the next few months.

This brings me on to my blog nicely. Phoenix golf club is trying to offer no temporary greens for frost situations. Although damage does occur from playing in some types of frost and thaw situations, I’ve never seen this damage become irreversible and by spring when the main root development occurs we usually have decent recovery. This theory hasn’t been tested for a few years now at Phoenix and if the results go as I’m predicting, then this will continue on into winter 2020.

Why the temporaries then? I hear you ask.
Well firstly the only greens being put on temporary greens (and I’m careful not to call them winter greens) are the 7th, 10th and 17th. This is due to a phenomenon called hypoxia. All living things that need Oxygen can suffer hypoxia. In humans a treatment of an oxygen mask and iron inputs are the likely treatment, In turf however it’s not so easy and the causes very different. The best treatment is prevention. This would have meant lots of disruptive deep aeration in the middle of summer and the golf season, we do perform this task but we aim for once or twice in August and then the rest of the deep stuff comes September onwards until the greens become unable to take the big machinery in late autumn. This year has been exceptional from the last week in September right through December with almost 1200mm recorded this year compared to less than 700mm last year and this work just hasn’t been possible without deconstructing the profile, compacting and making matters worse.
Here comes some science. We all know plants take in CO2 and give out O2 but in actual fact when plants can’t respire like night and winter months they take in O2. Roots always require O2 and use the air gaps between soil particles to stretch there legs and search for water. This autumn they haven’t had to do any searching so roots will be short. The sheer volume of water that the greens have had to cope with have also meant water has replaced air. There is a balance, the pore gaps in between soil particles Are filled with air and water. If the balance tips too far towards water and no oxygen then the turf essentially suffocates and dies, this starts by the first signs of a yellowing of the leaf tips. Anyone that wants deep science lessons follow this link, it’s over my head! https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/water-uptake

We can’t feed turf either when hypoxia sets in as this can make matters much worse. Plants need oxygen as I’ve stated and this is taken in by the root system. When you feed the plant it wants to take in more oxygen but when there is very little there it will strip what little oxygen is left until it’s depleted and hypoxia is exaggerated. There is also an imbalance of pressure required between plant and soil. A plant cant take anything in unless this imbalance occurs, this is because there is loads of water on the inside and outside of the plant so theres no pressure imbalance to pull nutrients or solution into the plant, remember the science lessons and Osmosis. If this continues for any length of time, the plant will suffocate. Applying a lot of Nitrogen in anaerobic conditions also produces nitrous oxide which is a greenhouse gas so not good for the environment either. 


This brings me into why temporaries?. When you walk on saturated ground, the soil is compacted and more oxygen is expelled from the soil, and like I said earlier tip this balance of air and water and the turf will suffer. We have seized to be using machinery on these greens where ever possible and we need to keep foot traffic off the 3 greens also. This is all for the benefit of the turf and benefit of the game. These 3 greens need to be left alone, we have hand forked the worse areas and as the water drains slowly this will pull oxygen down in its place.

You may have heard me say that these greens need drainage and it’s still in my plan should it get agreed. The drainage will pull water away, pull air in and hypoxia shouldn’t be much of a problem afterwards.

Thanks for reading hope this helps you understand somewhat and let’s hope for a drier 2020. Certainly after the dry 2018 and wet 2019, Mother Nature owes us a balanced year. Yeah good luck with that request Mark!!


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