Sunday, February 17, 2019

Maple Tree Tapping

The process of making Maple Syrup began many years ago for me. My father was a do it all kind of man. He was teacher, coach, and owned a restaurant. During the period of owning a restaurant in the 70's, he had a teacher friend who owned over 1000 acres of land a few miles away from St.Clair. The land was actually closer to Meramac State Park in Sullivan. On this land, I hunted squirrels as a teenager and dad would take me and my brothers deer hunting. My brother Ed still hunts on that property today with family friends.

They had a great deal of Sugar Maple trees on property with that amount of acreage. Dad would tap the trees and would use large cooper cooking kettles to boil the sap down. It would take hours and hours to boil this sap down to golden brown delicious home made maple syrup. Great fun sharing time with his friend Martin telling stories and getting away from the day to day troubles that owning a business can bring.

My 2nd brother Delmar built a sap boiler in shop class. Just a side note Delmar works for an industrial sheet metal company and did a little work on our greenhouse shaping a small vent for the heat system. He's also worked on many District clubhouses installing new duct work in remodeling projects. The shop class was taught by his friend Martin who was the owner of the property dad would extract the maple sap from the trees. The boiler had a large rectangle container on top which would hold up to 100 gallons of sap. This was quite the apparatus. It would also not scorch the sap quite as easily as happened on the open flame and copper pots. Our most successful run of maple syrup involved using this boiler. We had over 4.5 gallons of pure gold made. Before he used the large boiler, we would open a bottle and tell mom the syrup didn't taste very good and mom would say well dad must of scorched this batch.

Okay, enough of the story telling, now on to present day. Both my Brothers Delmar and Superintendent Ed tapped trees with dad over the years and since on their own with dad being gone almost 27 years. I had never been involved in tapping trees. Finally got the bug when I came to Glen Echo and decided I wanted to do something for the membership and I've done it ever since.

There's a nice link to an article on how sap flow works in a tree for those of you who are interested. Tap the link below.

We normally have about a 2 week window to tap trees in our area. Temperatures need to be above 32 degrees during the day and below 32 degrees at night. The transition zone creates pretty big swings in temperatures which are different than the northern or eastern climates where maple syrup production are much higher. If we make a large enough supply, Chef will sometimes make it available for a breakfast buffet during the season or will prepare a entree or dessert with the syrup during the season.

We have about 12 trees tapped including a couple in my backyard which produce a great deal of sap.
Below is a video of the tapping process.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Weather Stats for January

The last few days of the month put us slightly below normal for the month 
temperature wise. We were running a few degrees above normal before the
last few days of the month.

15th snowiest January on record and we had 1 day January 30th 8 degrees 
which was the lowest high temperature for that date which broke the mark 
from 1965. February is trending a couple of degrees below normal temperature 
wise and above normal in moisture.

                 2019              Normal   Diff to Norm     Last Year

AVG. MAXIMUM     38.5              39.9        -1.4             39.6
AVG. MINIMUM     22.9              23.7        -0.8             19.6
MEAN             30.7              31.8        -1.1             29.6


                 2.93              2.40         0.53            1.23


                 12.5               5.6          6.9            1.2

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Verified Closed Thursday, February 14th

Happy Valentine's Day to all the Sweethearts out there. Did verify on a few greens the freeze that is still in the greens. PG, 18 and 2 are from 1" to 1.75" thawed. Checked 1 as well without a video and it is at 1.25".

We have some additional cold and moisture driven weather over the next 6-7 days and will then hopefully get the freeze out of the greens and will be ready to have some members and guests out on the course. On the email version I believe the video does not show up but you can hit the link for the green to see the video.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Same Story Different Week With Course Being Closed and Winter Dormant Zoysia Spray

Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but conditions remain  frozen and or thawing here at Glen Echo. Just beginning to thaw today and I only give it a 1/10 of 1% chance of playing on Valentine's Day so I guess some would say there's a chance. Looks like snow and some colder temperatures over the next few days so golf looks like a no go for a bit longer.

We were out spraying some fairways, tees and approaches with our dormant herbicide spray. The turf must be dormant because we are spraying a non-selective product that injures and or kills green weeds and or grass. We are trying to kill any poa annua that has germinated on these surfaces and it also will kill any knot weed that has germinated. It appears the knot weed is still sleeping from the cold weather. If allowed to grow in the fairways during the spring, poa annua seeds profusely adding the more plants and can get rather clumpy before the fairway units beginning mowing. It also can invade more shaded areas and slow the health and progress of the zoysia Poa becomes active pretty quickly during warmer, sunny weather in the winter to early spring. A few days in a row over 45-50 and it becomes active. The plants will absorb the spray from the warmer weather as it becomes more active. Even if the temperatures turn cold, the chemistry is designed to stick on the leave of the plant and when it becomes active a few days later it will begin to kill the plant. The spray will show up over the next 2-3 weeks by yellowing the plants and will turn orange, brown and then die. Poa annua has a long growing period and reproduces millions of seeds. It loves moisture and shaded areas for the most part but will live in full sun is well so it is very adaptive.

We put a second product in the tank that helps to prevent crab grass and goose grass which germinate into the spring and summer. The product we utilize binds itself to the soil which allows it to be sprayed now and is on the soil surface when needed during April,  throughout the summer. Microbial activity begins to break down the product by the end of the summer but the zoysia is rather tight and keeps the soil surface shaded. Thinner areas of zoysia can develop some weed infestations because the soil is exposed to light and more moisture which can germinate weeds. We try to place enough product on the surfaces that will prevent weeds from germinating through August into September.

We were able to spray holes 1-7 today and the tees associated with those holes.

Below is a video with discussion regarding this spray application.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Week of February 12th Course Conditions

I would expect the course to remain closed this week due to the excessive moisture we have received and the frozen conditions. The warming trend will be short lived with another cold snap beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend. We will continue to monitor conditions on a daily basis.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Course Closed Through Saturday, February 2nd

The golf course will remain closed through Saturday, February 2nd. We will evaluate Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to see if conditions allow for opening on Sunday. The Driving Range will be open to come out and hit some balls during the weekend. I've been in contact with others clubs in town and some are closed and a few others are open but are on temporary greens.

 I've posted 3 videos below which show our situation on various greens throughout the grounds as of 1 PM Friday.

Practice Green

7 Green

11 Green

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Big Blast From the North and the Impending Thaw, How That Effects Golf Green Health

We've had above normal temperatures for the most part during the first 28 days of January with nights being well above normal and day temperatures a couple degrees above. This next blast of cold air the last four days of this month will bring our temperatures closer to average.

I'm sure everyone is anticipating the impending cold that will be followed by a warm up in the forecast below. I believe we have a 1 in 4 chance getting the course open this weekend.

Before we get too excited for a potential course opening this weekend, allow me a moment to discuss the yearly freeze/thaw issue that takes place with our greens.

We are getting to the time of year, probably a month or less before our first mowing of the winter/spring season. With cold temperatures like we will be experiencing over the next few days and no snow cover, the freeze is going to move pretty deep into our sand layer of our greens. The greens need to thaw at least 2-3" and the top of the green surface must be free of significant moisture.

Consequences of Greens Not Being Thawed Deep Enough
As the greens begin to thaw just an inch or two, the thawed part of the green can shift from golfers walking causing the area where the thaw and freeze meet to break or shear the roots off. Our roots this time of year are about 4" deep on average.  

Reducing the length of the roots forces the plant to regenerate new roots in the spring forcing it to catch up with non-damaged plants. Roots not damaged are growing deeper and branching more which  contributes to a healthier plant throughout the spring  and into the summer. The damaged plants see a total surface area of the roots reduced from this damage. The damaged plants must play catch up the rest of the spring and into the summer. If summer conditions arrive early like they did last year, there is less growth potential available for recovering plants and no storage of excess energy. 

The more total area of rooting the plant has, the more energy and moisture they can absorb throughout the spring and into the summer. Usually excess energy is produced and the plants can store some of this excess energy within the plant. The plants store this energy for use during the summer when growth slows and photosynthesis does not produce enough energy to maintain a healthy plant. The longer the plant has energy, the better it can ward off the severe stresses of our 
St. Louis summers. 

Consequences of Water Near the Surface
If the greens have not thawed deep enough to allow the moisture to move through the profile, the greens become spongy and very soft. During late winter play, if we allow play on greens that are very soft and spongy, foot traffic imprints into the surface of the green and may take a couple of weeks for it to come out. This condition can also contribute to large ball marks and damage from just walking on the green. There is also some potential for equipment potentially scalping the surface if this thaw occurs closer to the end of February. We always try to roll our greens in early spring in an effort to reduce the potential for scalping from puffiness and or foot imprinting.

The staff will be monitoring our surfaces and will alert the pro shop when play will be allowed on the golf course including the practice green. For those of you who like odds, I would place our chances of opening at 25%.

The staff has spent the last few days splitting wood, cleaning up tee markers, refurbishing some tables for Golf Pro Mike, cart maintenance, and checking out the internal workings of the ball washers. I've attached a few pictures of their work below.

Sanded and stained but not quite finished.

Shiny and new!

3 Tables in all were refurbished.

Sanding of old material from tee markers

Beginning the coating process.

The walk on area from the pro shop to the practice green was renovated
this past fall. We prepared a little taller stake to attach our nylon rope which will
 allow us to rotate the entrance and exit area from the practice green. Proper
 water, soil structure, aeration, rotating the wear pattern and removing the large sweet
gum should  help improve this area tremendously.
Guts pulled out of the ball washers and being cleaned. Washers were professionally
repainted 4 years ago and look like new  to this day.

Cleaning up the chairs next to the practice green.