Cold Weather, Winterkill, and Athletic Fields
Winterkill is a general term used to denote turf loss during the winter. Unfortunately, winter conditions are not easy to predict, and winterkill on turf is caused by a combination of factors, including low temperatures, crown hydration, desiccation, and ice cover.
These are just some examples of certain biological events on turfgrass associated with soil temps at a 4” depth.
- 50°F: Root growth begins to slow below this temperature. Chilling injury with discoloration possible. Initiation of dormancy occurs resulting in discoloration.
- 25°F: Winterkill possible
- 17°F: Some winterkill should be expected.
- 40°F: Shoot growth ceases.
- 33°F: Root growth ceases.
- 20°F: Low temperature kill possible if temperature subsequently drops rapidly below 20°F
If you are unsure of how your Bermudagrass is fairing the winter conditions, a good practice is to pull several plugs from your field to test. Take several plugs, no smaller than 3” in diameter and 3” depth, place them by a sunny window, and start looking for signs of life. Keep the soil moist and watch for regrowth over the next three or four weeks.