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Winterkill – Should Lawn Care Managers Be Concerned?

January 9, 2018 | Categories: ,
close-up of zoey the dog

With drought conditions going back to last year, and the combination of extreme cold we’ve seen recently with relatively little snow cover throughout much of the Midwest, athletic field managers or anyone who maintains bermuda have been growing a bit nervous about how their turf will wake up come spring. Should lawn care operators share their concern for cool season turf?

Let’s not panic, but yes, there is a reason to give this some thought. While bermuda is most susceptible to winterkill – all types turf are setting up to struggle this spring from harsh conditions of late. Of most concern to me from a lawn care perspective, are wear and high traffic areas. I’m thinking about dog wear in backyards, walkways and high traffic areas on commercial or multi-family residential, and anywhere that gets extra stress. Additionally, many lawn care operators seeded late or didn’t get to seed at all due to fall drought. The seed that did come up very possibly has died off. The seed that hasn’t come up in these areas may not in spring, being so far behind with moisture.

Zoey and Finley demonstrating how to create traffic stress on home lawns!
A “January thaw” has brought us some much-needed rain, although much of it couldn’t get deep into soil profile due to it being frozen. So what to do if we do see damage in spring? Traditional plans and practices may need to be altered. Skipping early pre-emergent and going with aeration and seeding will be a legitimate option for some. Foliar fertility applications are very effective at pushing turf before roots are fully functional. Continue to watch conditions and the weather disco that is winter in the Midwest. Speak to your ATS representative as we get closer to the growing season about the best practices to combat any winter damage we do encounter.

Scott Sand
ATS Sales Rep