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K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Tag: winter

Ice, Ice Baby.

By Dr. Jack Fry

Ice can cause many problems for turf, in various forms.

Ice Inside the Plant

Ice routinely forms inside plants when temperatures drop below freezing. Where the ice forms is important – when it’s outside the plant cells, it’s usually not an issue. This is called extracellular freezing.  However, no plant cell will survive when ice forms inside it.

The most important part of the turfgrass plant regarding survival is the crown, or growing point. Again, ice forming outside cells inside the crown is common and usually not harmful. It can become an issue, primarily in warm-season grasses, like bermudagrass, when temperatures are very cold for extended periods of time. This forces water inside cells to exit toward the ice (a matter of physics), and too much water leaving the cells will cause dehydration, which can cause the crown to die.

Freezing injury on bermuda is caused by ice forming outside cells within the crown of the plant that causes dehydration.

Ice formation inside cells of the crown commonly causes the death of grasses in the northern U.S, and it’s called intracellular freezing or crown hydration injury.  Usually, grasses that succumb to this type of injury become well hydrated in early spring, often growing in low areas that don’t drain well. Hydrated crowns that are then subjected to extremely low temperatures often suffer from ice formation inside cells of the crown;  when this occurs, they don’t survive. This is common in the northern U.S. on annual bluegrass on golf greens. It could also occur here, but would be most likely on warm-season grasses lying in low areas.

Ice Covering the Plant

Fortunately, in the central U.S., we don’t deal with extended periods of ice cover on turf. Ice cover can result from sleet, freezing rain, or snow melting and refreezing. Turf managers in the northern U.S. begin to worry about ice cover when it remains in place for about 60 days. That’s usually the limit for annual bluegrass – being under ice cover more than that can cause issues with lack of oxygen and/or accumulation of toxic gases under the ice

Ice on the Leaf Surface – Frost!

In a humid environment, when the leaf surfaces cool to temperatures below freezing, ice will form as frost on the leaves. Leaves of cool-season grasses tolerate frost on leaves just fine. Leaves of warm-season grasses don’t like frost, and we often see them go dormant shortly after the first hard frost in the fall.

Frost on the leaf surface can damage when foot or vehicle traffic causes the crystals to puncture the leaf cells (photo courtesy of Dr. Hoyle).

Frost is primarily a problem for turf managers in spring and fall on cool-season grasses. Foot or vehicle traffic pushes the ice crystals through the leaf surface and punctures cells, causing them to collapse. The result is that there is often brown turf where traffic was present. Honestly, I don’t think we know enough about the physics of ice that comprises frost, and I suspect that frost differs a lot – some ice forming on leaves may be more damaging than other ice.

Following are a few articles related to frost on turf.

For golfers:


For superintendents managing golf courses:


Apparently, in Japan, golfers play year-round regardless of temperature.  Some courses ignore frost to sustain income and have had less damage than expected:



K-State Radio Network “Plantorama” – Home Lawn Winterkill

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

HOME LAWN WINTERKILL– It was a fairly harsh winter in this region.  And that has homeowners wondering if their lawn grasses were adversely affected by the extended cold and wet conditions. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says while the likelihood of outright turfgrass winterkill is relatively low, some limited damage may have occurred.

Click the link below for K-State Research and Extension Agriculture Today Radio Program “Plantorama” hosted by Eric Atkinson.

Check out the KSRE bookstore more more information on all things turf! – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Category.aspx?id=528&catId=545

Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf

Winter Golf Cart Traffic and Turfgrass Paints

(by Evan Alderman and Jared Hoyle; KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

IMG_2679As some of you may know there is currently a lot of research right now at Kansas State University focusing on the use of buffalograss, and how it can be better utilized to lower water usage. We are looking at many different aspects of buffalograss in homelawns, golf courses, roadsides, parks, athletic fields and more. But one question that repeateadly comes across KSU Turfgrass Extension desk is how does buffalograss hold up against golf cart traffic on a golf course.   Research is currently being conducted to see how buffalograss handles simulated golf cart traffic during the summer months, but how does it handle golf cart traffic in the winter? And how can we conserve water going into the winter months?

One way is turfgrass colorants! There is a lot of research conducted on the dormant application of turfgrass colorants instead of overseeding the dormant warm-season turf. But how do these colorants stand the time when subjected to normal golf cart traffic?

The objectives of this research were to;

  1. Investigate the longevity of turf colorants when subjected to simulated golf cart traffic
  2. Explore the effects of turf colorants on buffalograss at fairway height
  3. Evaluate the effects of simulated golf cart traffic on dormant buffalograss.

As summer is approaching and a blistery winter has passed us, the first year of this research has come to an end.

Three turfgrass colorants (Endurant, Endurant Premium, and Green Lawnger) and a overseeded treatment (Perennial Ryegrass @ 10lb./1000ft2) were investigated over a period of 24 weeks beginning in late October of 2014. The colorants were applied at 43 gal/ Acre at a 1:6 dilution (colorant to water). Traffic was applied weekly at 0, 2, 4, or 8 passes with a golf cart traffic simulator. Traffic was not applied if day temperatures did not reach 40°F or the turfgrass plots were covered with snow.

wintertrafficThe data in Table 1 represents evaluations for percent green cover. As the weeks progressed percent green color decreased for all treatments presented. At 12 weeks after treatment it should be noted that with 0 and 2 passes of traffic weekly, Endurant Premium had more green cover than the overseeded treatment at those traffic levels.

Turfgrass colorants could be a viable option to help with water conservation efforts. Turfgrass colorants performed best when traffic was not applied. If traffic is applied to an area with turfgrass colorants, repeat applications of the colorant may be needed.

IMG_2686At 24 weeks after treatment it can be seen that all treatments are starting to green up after the long winter, with treatments receiving no traffic having the highest percent green cover.

To all the golf course superintendents that allow traffic on your buffalograss in the winter, be aware that in the spring you are going to have to increase your management practice to get that buffalograss to recover before the summer. The buffalograss eventually will recover but…why do you want to start from behind in the spring?

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf