Cold Weather and Turf

Dear Spring Run Members,

This has been a rough start to the winter season for all of Southwest Florida. We have been experiencing very long cold spells since the end of November. With the consistent cooler temperatures, it has had some detrimental effects on the health of the turf. Bermuda grass is called a warm season grass and requires consistent temperature of 65 degrees at night to 85 degrees F during the day for optimal plant growth. The last couple months, we have been experiencing regular night time temperatures of 40 degrees to 60 degrees F. When this happens, the grass shuts down and stops growing, resulting in a longer healing time when stressed or damaged. It also causes the plant functions like respirations and photosynthesis to slow down significantly, and in some types of Bermuda grass, like common Bermuda, causes the grass to go dormant, turn brown or turn off color.

I have been getting the question, “Why are we mowing the grass so tight?” We aren’t mowing the grass shorter. In fact, we have raised the mowing height to relieve stress. The tighter shorter look is a result of the continued extended cold spells we have been experiencing. The grass reacts to the cold much like the muscles in your body do when you get cold, which tighten up and shrink. The same reaction happens when the turf gets cold. The blades of the grass shrink and tighten up, thus appearing mowed low. We also mow less frequently, currently once a week.

In addition to higher mowing height and less frequent mowing, we have our staff take different routes around the course to spread out the traffic and wear patterns. We also make routine foliar fertilizer applications to help keep the grass as green as possible at this time. We also put green dye in the foliar applications; it helps track where we have sprayed so we do not over apply any chemicals and helps keep the canopy of the turf warmer. When the canopy is warmer, the plant is able to perform vital living functions again.

While the cold temperatures have had detrimental effects on the turf, we have been employing everything we can to minimize the stress and reduce damage to the turf. As the weather warms up, we will hopefully see a quick flush of growth. As always, thank you for all your support and patience. Stay safe and healthy in 2021. We look forward to a great season moving forward.

Sincerely,

Benjamin S. Hanshew

Superintendent

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