Winterkill recovery on golf courses

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.      

Winterkill on golf courses was widespread across south central Michigan with the majority of damage occurring from the Lansing area southeast through the Detroit area. The frustrating fact of winterkill is that some courses were severely affected, others untouched. In addition to damage varying across the region, damage is even variable across the same golf course. Once the damage has been done, it’s time to recover. Several methods can be used to reestablish following winterkill. For areas that have been completely killed, with no evidence of Poa coming back, sodding will certainly be the quickest route for recovery. Taking sod from a Poa annua nursery green that matches the Poa greens will blend quickly with any Poa that survived. Some superintendents may consider sodding a green that is really susceptible to winterkill to creeping bentgrass to prevent this from becoming a yearly problem. In areas with sporadic dead and living turfgrass, seeding with creeping bentgrass either through slit seeding or using the Job-Saver attachment should prove successful.

An informal survey around southeast Michigan indicates that some of the popular bentgrass cultivars for reseeding are Penn A4, Declaration, Alpha and T1. Other tricks to aid in reestablishing Poa greens are to take aerator plugs from an undamaged Poa green and plant them in aerator holes in the damaged green. Although very unpopular among golfers, taking damaged greens out of play will result in quicker recovery. Also, if you have covers, use them on the cold days. It will help speed reestablishment.

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