A weekly newsletter to keep you informed about EVERYTHING Turf at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
This week we will discuss what is going on with fields 14 and 17 and what is being done to fix them!
Winterkill - What is it?
What happened to fields 14 and 17? Like many soccer fields and golf courses in the Mid-Atlantic, fields 14 and 17 suffered from winterkill. Winterkill is the result of harsh winter conditions that result in plant injury to turfgrasses and sometimes even full devastation of the plant. We all know this past winter was colder than usual. We experienced 83 nights below freezing temperatures. For comparison, during the winter of 2016-2017 we experienced just 46 nights with below freezing temperatures. Of those 83 days, 23 days the temperature was below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. There were 43 days where the temperature did not rise above 40 degrees. Even with our turf blankets, the pro-longed cold temperatures kept the soil temperatures down as well, which is a factor that leads to winterkill. Bermudagrass is a warm season grass, meaning it grows and thrives in soil temperatures 65 - 80 degrees F. We also had very low moisture levels this winter which is a large contributor to winterkill because the low moisture combined with the extreme cold we experienced actually dry out the soil, causing the plants to dry out. December 2017 through March 2018 we had 5.41 inches of precipitation. To compare, in the same time period from 2016-2017 we had 6.88 inches of precipitation.
Field 14 and 17 are sand-based fields instead of soil-based fields like our other bermudagrass fields. This benefits the fields ability to take in rain, however, when we have a winter like the one we just went through, the sand will stay cooler than soil does. Have you ever gone to the beach and dug your feet very deeply into the sand? It's always cooler, that is what field 14 and 17 were put through this winter. The prolonged cold temperatures the sand-based fields encountered was another reason fields 14 and 17 had winterkill.