Fears aired over damage to turf caused by cold

Long-term damage to turf caused by the cold snap is becoming a real concern, say Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) agronomists.

STRI turf grass agronomist Henry Bechelet said: "There is concern whether this is going to cause problems a few weeks down the line. We don't really know how the turf will come out of this because it really depends how long the cold snap goes.

"In the Nordic countries they have to completely renovate their greens in the spring. We are not expecting that but there may be extensive damage. Our advice is to let nature take its course and thaw naturally."

The institute warned that greens with Fusarium patch problems prior to snowfall may develop snow mould, recommending the application of fungicides to cope with it.

The STRI said: "The prolonged period of frost and ice cover that is an unknown quantity for many turf managers across the UK. Although frustrating, our best advice in the majority of cases is to let nature take its course and wait for a thaw and then give time for recovery."

It recommended applying dark sand or charcoal to help accelerate the thaw but warned against trying to remove ice.

Bechelet said the extent of damage would depend on sward composition. Poa annua-dominated surfaces are more likely to suffer than bent or fescue, he explained.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council corporate supervisor Paul Eccles commented: "There is nothing happening on the pitches. We have had matches cancelled for weeks now. There is about half a foot of snow on every pitch in the borough."

He added: "All we can do now is play it by ear. We just want to get the pitches ready for the end-of-season blitz really. The truth is that there is no masterplan. We just have to wait and see what happens when it thaws."

 

See the Horticulture Week picture gallery for winter scenes from across the country.


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