Frost Takes a Bite Out of New Grass Shoots in PA Lawns
Posted: April 9, 2012
The unprecedented warm weather in March led to all sorts of plant anomalies, including early flowering in trees and shrubs, germination of annual grasses, and spring green-up of turf. Although perennial cool-season grasses are well equipped to withstand sudden and extreme drops in temperature, new, succulent leaf tissues are susceptible to injury from frost.
During the third week of March, nighttime low temperatures were a balmy 45F to 56F. However, on March 26 and 27, night temperatures dropped to 26F, and were accompanied by a hard frost.
A few days later, extension educators in western PA began receiving calls about white patches and die back of turf lawns. The injury appeared as bleached leaf blades, dying back from the tips. Leaf blades were crinkled and dehydrated, imparting symptoms similar to fertilizer burn.
Samples of injured turf sent to my office last week included Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. Fortunately, this type of damage is temporary, and will usually disappear following one or two mowings.