Monday, April 30, 2012

Field Heating System

Tomorrow is May 1st and as we progress in season #3 here at Target Field, it seems as though the first week of May is about the time to dial down our playing field heating system and leave it alone until next winter. With milder weather arriving Tuesday and continuing through the week, we will shut it down tomorrow morning. Here is an image of the field heat pipes during installation. They are 1/2" diameter Pex tubing pipes and are spaced every 6" throughout the field (except for the warning track).
What you see in the photo is the start of Zone 5, which is in right field. There are 5 total zones for the heating system. The large, black pipes are supply and return lines, which house the blend of 70% water, 30% glycol. The white Pex tubing is looped so every foot a supply line goes out and every foot a return line comes in. It is an enclosed system, meaning the water and glycol always stay on site here.

. The photo to the right shows supply and return heading out towards home plate to heat Zone 4 in foul territory. On top of the heat tubes are the 10" of our rootzone mix, which is a 93% sand, 7% peat mixture. Once we reach around the 1st of March, we dial the heat up from its winter mode of 34* F to a setpoint of 40*F. We then wait about 5 days and take it to 46*; then to 52* by March 10th. By the middle of March we reach a setpoint range of 58-60*. In three years here, the highest range we have ever set it to is 60-62*. Once we are consistently above 58* in the spring, we begin to get growth and move the bluegrass out of dormancy. I am always very anxious to get to the point where I can turn the system off and move on to our next phase of the season. May is usually a pretty good month here in Minneapolis for growing turf. Odds of any frost here in the middle of the city are pretty low at this point. One other question I receive a lot in the spring is: can you melt the snow? We have found that having surface soil temps in the high 50's certainly does diminish any chance of snow building up on the turf. One instance was last year on April 20, 2011. The Twins were on the road, so we just put tarps on the infield dirt only and let the snow hit the turf. As you can see below in the distance, the snow stuck to the seats and infield dirt tarps, but the total of 1.5" of snow that morning never really stuck to the turf. At some point in the future we will be challenged by more April snow than that I am sure. It is nice to have options when the weather is bad here at Target Field.           -Larry



About Me

Welcome to my blog. I am Larry DiVito, Head Groundskeeper for the Minnesota Twins. DISCLAIMER: content within this blog does NOT represent views or policies of the Minnesota Twins or Major League Baseball.This turfgrass management blog will provide insight into the work of a big league groundskeeper and his crew. I grew up in California playing and coaching baseball, while also working on fields along the way. In 1995 I was fortunate to be hired as Head Groundskeeper for the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, where I spent seven seasons. In 2002 I became the Assistant Groundskeeper at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. I worked for four seasons in LA from 2002-05. In 2006 I became the Head Groundskeeper for the Washington Nationals in Washington, DC. After three seasons there, I moved to Minnesota in the spring of 2009 as Head of Grounds for the Twins during the building and completion of Target Field.
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