GTI Grow-in Part 2 - A Full Summary
Apologies for the delayed update on the grow-in and essentially the completion of phase 1 of the GTI. There have been many new projects and initiatives created this year and keeping up with them has been a challenge. Having said that, I am confident that the Guelph Turfgrass Institute is firing on all cylinders and is engaging with the public and turfgrass industry more now than it has in a long time. All good things - so stay tuned for a blog post highlighting all the programs and outreach initiatives we have been involved with this season.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this blog, I would like to recognize the hard work, passion and diligence that has been expressed by the Cutten Fields crew on the execution of this project. Having Bill Green lead the grow-in was a game changer and his team of Jamie, Ryan, Mark, Matt, Nick and everyone else who helped along the way was instrumental in the successful completion of this part of the project. A special pat on the back goes to Matt Hague and Nick Berdusco (both Guelph Turf Diploma alumni) who managed most of the fertilizing, seeding, watering, and initial mowing of the plots. Their hard work, long days, and exhausting weekend shifts certainly paid off and does not go unrecognized. Be sure to check out Matt and Nick featured on the cover of the OGSA's November issue of On Course. The issue highlights a breakdown of the site by rootzone and seed maps as well as discussing the experience of the grow-in through the perspectives of those doing it.
Drone image of full site - April 2018 (pump not yet installed)
Without question 2018 was a big year for this project. There is no hiding that the construction of the new GTI has seen it's share of delays since the first announcement of the project (permitting issues, environmental activist committee issues, weather etc...), but when the pump was installed in late April, and the pumphouse shortly thereafter in early May, it generated the momentum needed to push the project forward through the summer and fall months. The drainage channels left exposed over winter were cleaned out and remaining rootzones (all provided at a generous discount through Hutcheson Sand and Mixes) were installed by mid June. Although the irrigation system had been installed in 2017, final touches were made to heads with regard to levelling, changing out broken and damaged housings and of course charging and flushing the lines and programming the system. There are a total of 96 heads on site, each one a Rainbird 950 with #28 nozzle which will make managing the system more streamlined. We are very thankful to VandenBussche Irrigation for providing this system at a generous discount which helped to reduce the overhead on this project. Once the intense heat and drought of July came the site had transformed tremendously. Several of the higher silt, clay and organic matter rootzones (sportsfield category 4 and 5 were the worst) had been invaded by weeds after being exposed throughout the early spring and summer. Additional efforts were made to remove the excess vegetative materials by pulverizing the rootzones and sifting out the excess organic materials. 39-Seven, the onsite contractor, did an excellent job getting these plots back into appropriate condition before our planned seeding began. By the time August rolled in, the rootzones were getting the finishing touches added to them (final grading and laser levelling) while the peripheries were getting their polishing touches on grading and rock removal. The first installment of this blog covered the initial stages of this grow-in and discusses the seed plans and germination times in greater detail. The remainder of this blog will cover the grow-in from where the first one left off - at week 3.
Upon walking the site at the beginning of the third week, it was truly impressive to see how far the site had come along in such a short while. The first two weeks provided the most ideal seeding and grow-in conditions one could hope for; low to mid 30s in temperature, low winds and scattered light rain events. Coupled with the fertilizer generously donated by Nutrite and the well executed applications and timing by the Cutten turf team it was not surprising to see the plots filling in quickly and achieving a significant increase in density and surface stability. By the end of the third week, we had graduated from walk mowers to triplexes - and in the early stages of the fourth week, a topdresser was run across the USGA plots with zero rutting. I was impressed!
Cutten Crew out topdressing one of the USGA plots approx. four weeks after seeding
By early October, the site was looking very impressive. The plots were filling in nicely, and the slow cool down was instrumental in a good hardening off period for the grass heading into winter. With the grow-in having been so successful it was decided to bring in our partner groups and project donors to tour the site and inform them of the progress that the 2018 season had realized. The overall feedback from the tour was very positive and certainly acted as a great sense of optimism heading into the next segment of the project - phase 2. For those unfamiliar with the project, Phase 2 includes the construction of the new GM Frost Research and Information Centre, the new maintenance facility, parking lots, associated grounds and renovations to the two adjacent Arboretum buildings. Phase 2 will also see the installation of a new teaching garden, weather station, and upgrades to the retention pond fill/re-fill infrastructure.
The last tour of the site occurred this past week after the accumulated snow had melted. It was pleasing to see that the site is prepared for its long winter sleep and that phase 1 has come to a close. The irrigation system was successfully blown out without issue and winter protection is down on all the bentgrass plots. No covers will be used on the site this winter. Find below an aerial photo of the site taken late October of 2018 - a far cry from where it stood in early April (first picture in this blog). If you have any questions or interest in seeing the site, please reach out to me at email@example.com. I also want to remind any readers that the fundraising process is still active and moving forward. In fact, in the last three months two new groups have come forward and expressed interest in supporting the project. I am sincerely looking forward to working closely with them in order to ensure our fundraising goals are realized. I have also received some interest in regards to personal donations of smaller value (< $1000.00) and want to assure those individuals that we are in the process of creating an alumni donation fund where smaller donations can be made in someone's name and honoured through a list which will be placed on the walls of the new building for recognition. Please stay tuned for development on this giving opportunity. All other donations and support questions can be directed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of the University of Guelph, the OAC, and the GTI I want to again take the opportunity to thank all those who have come forward to donate and support this project. Our unique institution would not be possible without your continued and unwavering support.
- TurfCare Products Canada
- Landscape Ontario
- VandenBussche Irrigation
- Greenhorizons Sod Farms
- Bayer Crop Science
- Plant Products
- Ontario Seed Company
- Neudorff North America
- Ray and Shelley Chyc
- Victoria Park Golf and the DeCorso family
- Corrie Almack
- Tim Tripp
- Sod - Greenhorizons Sod Farms, Zander Sod Company Ltd.
- Seed - Ontario Seed Company, DLF Pickseed, Tee2Green, Pure Seed, Speare Seeds, Graham Turf, Quality Seeds, Brett Young
- Rootzone mix - Hutcheson Sand and Mixes
- Irrigation system - VandenBussche Irrigation
- Equipment support - TurfCare Products Canada