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Anthrancose and summer patch are appearing in the southeast

In yesterday's post Dr. Kaminski asked, "Where is the summer heat?" Well, if you want heat we've got it here in the southeast. Brown patch has been raging for the last month, symptoms of fairy ring have been appearing sporadically, and we are just starting to see anthracnose and summer patch popping up.

A few samples of anthracnose on creeping bentgrass have been submitted to our Turf Diagnostics Lab at NC State, and we also have some developing on 'Dominant Plus' creeping bent at our research center. Conditions have fluctuated between hot and wet then hot and dry, which is ideal for anthracnose development. If you are growing a bentgrass cultivar that is susceptible to anthracnose, be sure that you have a solid preventive fungicide program in place as soon as possible.

Not all bentgrass varieties are susceptible to anthracnose. The Penn A and G series cultivars have good resistance to the disease, and problems are rarely seen on these grasses. Older varieties, like Penncross, Pennlinks, Dominant, and even Crenshaw and L-93, are most susceptible.

Beware that fungicide resistance is a common problem in anthracnose populations. Our recent survey of C. cereale populations in NC showed that resistance to the QoI class (Heritage, Insignia, Compass, Disarm) and thiophanate-methyl (3336 and equivalents) is widespread. In fact, we had a hard time finding populations that are sensitive! Bottom line - unless you know that your populations are sensitive to these fungicides, do not rely on them for anthracnose control. For other anthracnose control options, please see our Anthracnose Information Sheet on TurfFiles. Remember to avoid the DMI fungicides if temperatures above 90F are in the forecast.

If you would like to find out if your anthracnose population is resistant or sensitive to various fungicides, the NC State Turf Diagnostics Lab offers fungicide resistance screening. Please see our website for more details.

Right on time, symptoms of summer patch have started to appear in North Carolina as well. It seems like this disease always starts to appear right around the 4th of July. If you are managing Kentucky bluegrass or annual bluegrass, or have bentgrass greens with a history of summer patch problems, be sure to continue your preventive applications for this disease. The summer patch pathogen is active throughout the summer, as long as average daily soil temperatures are below 80-85F.

Where is the summer heat?

Diseases normally typically appearing at this time of year will likely be on hold for another few weeks as temperatures in the Northeast continue to remain low. The main diseases that I have heard throughout the region include those typically seen in the spring. These include the leaf spots, red thread, take-all patch (although this will likely get worse when the heat does arrive), dollar spot and a reported case of copper spot in Jersey. Leave a comment below and tell me what you are seeing in your area.

For those of you dealing with dollar spot, please send some to State College! The disease showed up in typical fashion in early June and then just sat there. I walked my plots today and there was only about 10 infection centers in my untreated plots...not good for disease research.

I am still sticking by my guns and predicting that brown patch will start to move into the warmer parts of the region within the next week or so. This is also a good time to start (if you have not already) applying Pythium controls for your turf. Applications of the phosphite products have been successfully used to control Pythium on fairways, but preventive applications are necessary. On greens, the phosphites can effectively suppress algae (again when applied preventively). If the hot weather does come in fast, you will want to make sure you are covered for the hot weather diseases.

Finally, keep an eye out for next month's "PlayTurf" cover and the special interview guest. I will also be reporting on @johnkaminski from Saucon Valley and the Women's U.S. Open.

brown patch, pythium, and summer stresses

Hot and humid is the big story this week. Waterlogged soils are an issue in some areas, both in sand-based greens and native soils.

We are starting to see lots of typical summer decline. Poa annua is checking out, and algae and hot spots are checking in. In areas where bentgrass has been stressed, it’s showing decline too. June feels too early to be dealing with this stuff, but that is what Mother Nature has dealt us this year. If June is kicking our butts, I'm worried what July and August have in store.

With the overly wet conditions, some guys are wanting to needle tine and topdress to get some air movement in their putting greens. But, it’s so hot, such cultural practices could seriously stress out the turf. We are all hoping for some cooler temps next week in order to sneak in some cultural practices. A dip in nighttime lows would really be beneficial. The lows over the past week have been in the 70’s in most of Kansas (a bit lower in western Kansas where humidity is lower), and soil temps at 4-inches are hovering around 80 degrees. We might get some highs in the upper 80's (gee, maybe I'll need a jacket or I might get chilly...) and lows in the mid-60's early next week. Then, the forecast calls for more scorching.
I had a couple of interesting diagnostic cases this week where turf was declining and, as is typical this time of year, no turf pathogens were to blame. In one situation, a surfactant was applied as part of a tank mix and then not watered in, and this may have led to some phytotoxicity especially in our hot conditions. A big clue was that the practice green WAS watered in, and that one was not showing damage.
In another, some extra N a couple of weeks ago kicked the turf into high gear on one putting green. The green got a little puffy, then got scalped, and now it is having a hard time recovering in these conditions.

The turf shown in the photo below is not happy to be drowning:

Here is this morning in pictures, to further illustrate the conditions

It’s SO humid…

* My camera fogged up when I first took it out of the case at the turfgrass research facility at 7:00 am. No that’s not real fog in the photo, that’s condensation on my camera lens. It took about 5 minutes to "equilibrate" to the outside air.

* The dew was thick to the point of sloshiness:

* I could hear the brown patch mycelium crawling around (well, not quite, but almost…):

* Pythium blight is making its first appearance: (mycelium had been present earlier)

Get Ready for Anthracnose in the West

Sadly, Farrah Fawcett passed away from cancer today at age 62. I bet you that just about anyone who was a teen in the 1970s had a poster (like the one to the left) in their room.

We probably invoke her name at least a dozen times a week here at UCR since we work in Fawcett Laboratory. Often, when explaining where to send samples, we tell people that: "it's Fawcett Lab, as in Farrah Fawcett" - which often goes right over the heads of those superintendents in their early- and mid-20s. For that matter, many John Holmes references - in relation to optimal root length - also go over those guy's heads too.
I have got to stop using 70s-pop culture references so frequently here in our lab.

Anthracnose Management
Here in the west, anthracnose is starting to pop up more frequently in the UC Riverside diagnostic lab. It could signal the start of the anthracnose season already. Although anthracnose can pop up on just about any cool season turf species, it's impact is very different on different species being used for different purposes on the course.

For perennial ryegrass, the presence of anthracnose often signals low fertility, heat and drought stress. Here, anthracnose is usually just a secondary pathogen affecting stressed turf. It usually does not warrant control directly, but does often indicate that cultural conditions need improvement in these areas.

On creeping bentgrass, we typically see anthracnose on greens that are "lean and mean", especially when there is high humidity and overcast days. Again, in these cases, anthracnose is usually not the primary cause of damage but does signal that fertility needs to be increased and plant stress reduced. Typically, shutting anthracnose down with a fungicide application or two followed by increasing the fertility will solve the issue.

On annual bluegrass though, anthracnose is a real killer because its often the disease that puts the nail in the coffin for Poa greens.

Check out our presentation on chemical control options for anthracnose here:

as well as the cultural management practices for anthracnose research being spearheaded by the group at Rutgers

Sucessful anthracnose management on annual bluegrass greens in the West should combine cultural practices like adequate nitrogen fertility and water management with a sound preventive fungicide program.

With regard to fungicides for anthracnose - there are plenty of ways to skin a cat, but in a nutshell - here's what has been effective for us in trials conducted over the past few years.

Early season preventive DMI applications (especially Banner MAXX) should be initiated before soil temperatures exceed 70F (65-68F is usually a good starting place).

Chlorothalonil fungicides, Medallion and Endorse are good choices for control when air temps are high and the risk of negative PGR effects of the DMI-fungicides are present (see Lane's recent entry on the DMIs). These should be applied at 14-day intervals in the summer.

Chipco Signature can be tank mixed with the fungicides listed above for added control and stress reduction. Although the mechanism for stress reduction provided by the combination of pigment and fosetyl-Al in Chipco Signature is still not fully understood, I'm going with the theory that it's "sunblock for Poa". Although results from trials in the east have shown a direct effect of phosphonate type fungicides on anthracnose - our trial results from California have shown that Chipco Signature applied by itself isn't very effective versus anthracnose and needs a good partner to maximize the effectiveness of the tank mix application.

Finally - I don't mean to kick a dead horse, but QoI and benzmidazole resistance appear to be pretty common for anthracnose in areas that have used them exensively for anthracnose control. Monthly applications of Heritage or Insignia are still very important for summer patch control in the summer, but don't rely on them exclusively for anthracnose control.

In Other News...
Brown Ring (Waitea) Patch was reported from Minnesota and diagnosed from Montanta this week. It sounds like this disease is continuing to pop up throughout many places in the U.S.

Signing Off from the Left Coast!

What it Actually Takes to get Pythium Blight on Creeping Bentgrass

Megan posted last Friday that hot, humid weather equals brown patch, which is absolutely correct! Our temperatures soared in the Midwest late last week and continue to stay hot and humid through this week. With the advent of hot, humid weather people started worrying about Pythium blight. Lane mentioned in a previous post (Summer fungicide programming) that many people spray for Pythium, but is probably a waste. Of course none of us believe that Pythium blight cannot develop, but the conditions that are required are so extreme that it rarely develops in shorter cut turfgrass.

For example, just this morning temperatures were well into the 80's and humidity levels were 90 % or more. Plus we have had over 4 inches of rain in the past two or three days. Of course everyone in the Upper Midwest has been worried about Pythium and are scheduling applications to control Pythium. Although we have diagnosed Pythium at a few courses, the extent of the damage is minimal. Symptoms appeared this morning on creeping bentgrass in close proximity to a drain in a fairway at a local Madison golf course. This particular area is also sheltered from air movement by a small pocket of trees. The picture in this post shows the extent of the symptoms, which basically amounted to a few small spots only in areas immediately adjacent to drains in fairways. The superintendent at this particular course is going to make an application of Subdue Maxx to clean-up these areas, but is not going to spray the entire fairways.

The other picture I have attached is from an area at the OJ Noer. This area was seeded with varieties of bentgrass earlier this spring. The plot is so wet that it could be considered a quagmire, but still symptoms are not that severe.

We are not advocating that Pythium is a problem of the past, but we are advocating that superintendents do not forget about other diseases. Brown patch can be very damaging in the conditions we are experiencing now, especially in fairways. If you have symptoms resembling Pythium blight or brown patch, have it diagnosed if possible. Both diseases can produced aerial mycelium and it has been our experience that brown patch is commonly mis-diagnosed as Pythium blight in the field.

As for other diseases, well the the stuff has definitely hit the fan. Dollar spot is raging on our plots at the OJ Noer and has developed at many courses we have visited. Brown patch has reared its ugly head at a few courses in the Madison area and Derek Settle has reported numerous cases of brown patch in the Chicagoland area. We have diagnosed take-all patch a few courses in Northern Wisconsin and it has developed at the OJ Noer. We will probably see a lot of take-all patch this year because soil temperatures were conducive for infection for a long time this spring. However, once take-all symptoms develop a fungicide application will not help alleviate the symptoms. Areas affected by take-all patch will need to be "nursed" through this warm spell by hand watering and possibly a light fertilizer application.

The weather in the Midwest continues to amaze me. Last week we were still measuring soil temperatures in native soil areas at 65 F. This week air temperatures soared up into the middle 90's during the day and nighttime temperatures in the upper 70's. Reminds me of North Carolina weather. Relief is on the way, as forecasts are predicting a slight cool-down this weekend. I think I may have to enjoy some beer and cheese curds!

Hats off to Craig and the USGA!

Well, I can't say that I am disappointed, but I wanted Tiger to win the US Open...and then I wanted Phil to win. Congratulations to Glover (right) for his unlikely win at the 109th Open! I can't say enough about the efforts of Craig Currier, his staff, and the USGA after this trying Championship on Long Island. Is it true that the crew did not mow on Saturday (glad to see that my post last week about mowing wet greens was correct...see #1).

Disease activity on the east coast has been at a standstill because of all the rains, but this week looks to warm up and dry out. This "should" bring some serious disease pressure over the next week or two. Dollar spot has been hanging on for a few weeks without really doing much, but we may jump right into diseases like brown patch with these temperatures. In regions that are very hot and humid or on areas of the course that have limited air movement, even Pythium may make an unusual early appearance.

As seems to be the case in the recent years, no year is typical when it comes to weather and diseases. All you can do is monitor your region and scout early and often for diseases at your course.

Weather forecast for this week:


CT Shoreline:
Hartford, CT:

Washington, D.C.:

Boston, MA:
Springfield, MA:

New York
Albany, NY:
Buffalo, NY:

Westchester, NY:

New Jersey
Cape May, NJ:
Far Hills, NJ:

Philadelphia, PA:
Pittsburgh, PA:
State College, PA: h

Way the heck up there
Burlington, VT:
Portland, ME:
Rumney, NH:

hot, humid = brown patch

Hot, Humid, & Stormy

The main story this week is that temperatures have surged into the 90’s along with high humidity and more rainfall. We’ve had a string of days where merely stepping outside in the morning leads to sweating. This means it is brown patch season, and not surprisingly there is some activity out there. Earlier this week there was a particularly dewy morning, and I found some mycelium crawling around in the perennial ryegrass at our research facility. Examination in the microscope confirmed that it was brown patch. I’ve seen a few brown patch lesions in tall fescue, too.

Dollar spot continues to be active in many areas. Our research site, Kansas State’s Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Facility, is wide-open with lots of exposure to Kansas winds. There have been a few dollar spot infection centers, but this week it has really picked up so we can start to gather some data in our trials.

On the ornamental/landscape side of things, a lot of trees in northeast Kansas got totally hammered in heavy winds during a severe thunderstorm on Monday night. There's a lot of tree carnage. So, as if there were not enough to do to manage the turf, now there’s a lot of tree clean-up work to deal with. Proper pruning after storm damage is critical for recovery and the long-term health of trees. Got storm damage at your course? Not sure what to do? The Arbor Day Foundation has some great resources about storm damage in trees on their website:

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Heart of America Golf Course Superintendents Association (HAGCSA) Scholarship and Research Tournament on Monday. We at K-State appreciate all the support over the years.

The tournament was held at Oakwood Country Club in Kansas City, MO, with Jeff Elmer as Superintendent.

Kaminski on West Coast?

That's right! I have spent the past week on the west coast visiting my students on their internships (See details here [WARNING...shameless plug!]). During this time I had the opportunity to see some unique management practices and current disease activity in Northern California, Arizona, Utah, and Canada.

One of the most fascinating aspects of traveling to different regions are the various management practices. Having spent a significant amount of time in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, I am familiar with high disease pressure and intense management practices associated with bentgrass and annual bluegrass.

In the areas visited on this "West Coast Swing", however, disease activity is limited and fungicides are used sparingly. Despite this, there were several diseases and other issues that I had a chance to see on the course. In the San Francisco region, The California Golf Club had just rebuilt the entire course and disease activity was limited to a few small patches of take-all on the new bentgrass greens. The most interesting part of this course is the use of "The Greenway Program", which utilizing various cultural practices to help to minimize Poa populations. (Pictured right: turfgrass intern Niels Dokkuma applies a sulfate mixture to the greens by hand as a component of program). In the northeastern portion of California, a few cases of take-all patch were observed on tees, some old snow mold damage was seen in heavily shaded areas, and a few cases of rust were observed on the Kentucky bluegrass roughs.

In the desert, where disease activity is typically low, fairy ring seemed to be the most common problem on the course. As the bermudagrass fairways were starting to kick in to high gear, some remnants of spring dead spot were also hanging around. Although I didn't get a chance to see any on the trip, the most surprising disease in the region were a few select cases of dollar spot. This is the first time that I have heard of dollar spot showing up in the desert! Just another reason why the establishment of a regional dollar spot research project is a good idea.

Just south of Salt Lake City, Red Ledges Golf Course was getting ready to officially open its doors. While I am sure there was disease SOMEWHERE on the course, I did not see ANY disease during a 5 hour tour around the course with my student. The major concerns there dealt with wrapping up construction projects and dealing with animal damage to the select areas of from the elk and voles (pictured right).

My final stop is here in Panorama, British Columbia. Disease pressure here is basically limited to winter pathogens including the snow molds. While diseases are not a concern, major issues include the potential for winter kill. Over the past winter, snow fall in the region was limited during the winter months. While the snow generally acts as a buffer and keeps the turf protected, the greens in many Canadian regions were exposed to -30 temperatures for a long period of time. In fact, much of the damage occurred during a period in April when melting snow on the greens rapidly froze as nighttime temps rapidly dropped. To add to the problems, the slow start to spring/summer in the region is making recovery efforts more difficult. Weather is finally getting to be suitable for growing grass and recovery should be apparent soon.

Thanks to Frank for allowing me to post on his day and to all of the superintendents and students for showing me around the courses!

Dollar Spot Forecasting

The weather is finally starting to warm up in the Midwest. I think we have turned the corner and left those nasty leaf spots behind us, hopefully. Now our attention turns to summer diseases. Dr. Derek Settle has seen foliar anthracnose on creeping bentgrass in Central Illinois and some pretty severe outbreaks of dollar spot in Central and Southern Illinois. Just this morning at the OJ Noer we saw small dollar spot infection centers on our Crenshaw fairway plots. The rest of the week's forecast is calling for mid 80's during the day and nighttime temperatures above 60 with high humidity. If you haven't made a fungicide application for dollar spot on fairways, you better do so this week.

I'm sure you can sense the excitement in my writing. I'm sure you are wondering why too. Well I was thinking that Wisconsin was not going to have a summer, but now I know that summer is on the way! I am excited because one of the projects we are doing in Wisconsin, in collaboration with Oklahoma State University, is developing a dollar spot forecasting model. Dr. Damon Smith initiated an experiment last year with the intent of modeling dollar spot development in the field. I was fortunate to see this experiment last year and Dr. Smith and I started to work together to pick apart the epidemiology of dollar spot. From his data last year, Dr. Smith determined that dollar spot will not develop until 5-day air temperatures reach or eclipse 57F and when relative humidity levels are above 70%. We have established plots with weather stations in Wisconsin to see if Dr. Smith's development data are similar to data collected in Wisconsin. He has constructed a preliminary model that we have begun to validate in Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Preliminary results indicate that the model accurately predicts dollar spot development in the field and therefore could help with timing fungicide applications targeting dollar spot.

During these tough economic times, a forecasting model for one of the most important turfgrass diseases will help to limit fungicide expenditures. Even saving a single application in areas that spray fairways will amount to a significant cost savings. Please stay tuned to see what unfolds with this project. In the meantime, my poor Cubbies could use some serious prayer time :)

Beware of the DMI Fungicides

As temperatures climb in the southeast US, it is time to put the DMI fungicides on the shelf until fall. All of them.

The DMIs can cause significant damage to bentgrass and bermudagrass putting greens if temperatures exceed 90 degrees after an application is made. Note that the temperature at the time of application is not important, it is the weather in the days and weeks after an application that leads to problems.

The DMI fungicides include Banner, Bayleton, Eagle, Rubigan, Tourney, Trinity, and Triton.

All of the DMIs have growth regulating properties. The effects are minimal when the turf is healthy and actively growing, but significant thinning of the canopy can occur during hot weather, even on otherwise healthy turf. Combine a DMI application, hot weather, and severely stressed turf and the consequences can be disastrous.

Several new DMI fungicides have been released in the last two years, and many of them are promoted as "safe". Admittedly, they are safer, but by no means are they safe. Severe damage has been observed where these new DMIs were applied to stressed cool-season grasses prior to or during hot weather. We have also observed that these new DMIs are more injurious to bermudagrass than the older DMIs. Tourney, Trinity, and Triton are not labeled for application to bermudagrass greens for this reason.

Most golf course superintendents in the southeast don't need DMIs during the summer anyway. Effective alternatives are available for control of most diseases, but anthracnose is an exception. Many superintendents with older bentgrass varieties or Poa annua greens battle this disease, and most anthracnose populations have become resistant to the QoI and benzimidazole fungicides. If you are in this situation, you pretty much have to use a DMI. The newer DMIs (Tourney, Trinity, and Triton) are very effective against anthracnose and should be worked into a preventative anthracnose program. Just be sure to use low rates, tank-mix with chlorothalonil to prevent algae invasion, and do not apply more than once a month to minimize the potential for injury.

It's US Open Week in the Northeast

This week marks the start of the 2009 US Open Championship hosted by Craig Currier at Bethpage Black. In 2002, Bethpage was the first public facility to host a US Open Championship. That week was met with great success and a lot of rain as Tiger Woods went on to win his 2nd US Open (and now is the defending champion). Now according to, there is a 40% chance of rain each day of the event. So based on the accuracy of most weather forecasters, it will probably be perfectly sunny and dry.

As golf course superintendents head into their own tournament season, the thought of heavy rains and golf course preparation comes to mind. One of the busiest times of year for me is immediately following the golf course tournament season. Visits to golf courses during this time often are met with thinning turf stands, weak collars, and dead or dying greens. In many cases, this was caused by "pushing" the greens to their limits in preparation of a particular event. It is important to know the limitations of your greens and always follow some basic rules to prevent damage (especially during excessively wet weather):

1. Never mow greens that are wet. Mowing greens that are excessively wet can result in severe damage. Wet greens tend to be spongy and are susceptible to scalping from mowers.

2. Remove standing water ASAP. During the hot summer and heat of the day, heavy rains can result in standing water. This water can heat up to levels that result in direct scald of the turf.

3. Improve drainage. While this is a long term fix, many golf courses in the Northeast are in need of supplemental drainage to their native soil putting greens. The addition of drains such as the XGD system can be completely relatively quickly with minimum disturbance to the putting green surface.

4. Keep a level head. When things get busy during the summer, stick to the basic agronomics that you know have worked for you in the past. Know the limitations of your course and "try" to avoid the pressure to do things that you know are bad for the turf. Avoid being tempted by the member comments of "I don't care if they die, just get the speeds up to 12!".

Now I know that there are some things that are unavoidable, but do what you can to prevent causing the damage yourself. There are plenty of other things out there that we don't have control over, so let's try to manage the things we can control.


roots, and kids

“Plants get sick, too”

I spent the morning doing two workshops (with the above title) with 6th graders where they had the opportunity to do some hands-on stuff with viruses, bacteria, fungi, and nematodes. Every year, this activity gives me a renewed appreciation for teachers, especially middle-school teachers, as I’m pretty wiped out right now after a mere 4 hours. Kids love plants, though, and in they end they start to enjoy the pathogens, too. All of you reading this webpage can help get kids interested in plants and biology, too, by pointing out flowers, different kinds of leaves, insect galls on trees, planting grass seed in a pot for a kid to grow in a windowsill, etc.

That's my warm & fuzzy thought of the day.

With the kid-induced exhaustion, I’m not feeling too creative about turf diseases.

The weather is still unusually cool. Dollar spot is out there, and we are still seeing lingering symptoms of large patch and spring dead spot.

Wet conditions in some areas are making me worry about root establishment. When soils are water-logged and roots are deprived of oxygen, the roots can’t fully develop. Then, once summer heat and drought set in the turf just can’t take it. For cool-season grasses in Kansas, we grow most of our roots in spring and then do what we can to keep everything going through July and August.

Algae and Tri-Tip

Our weird weather patterns are continuing here in California with highs in the 60-80s in many coastal locations and lots of overcast days and June gloom in southern California.

Dollar spot, brown ring patch, rapid blight and fairy ring seem to be pretty active in the state and southern blight is starting to show up in parts of northern and central CA.

With the lack of the usual California sunshine, we are also starting to get a lot of algae samples coming into the diagnostic lab. Under cloudy conditions, Oscillatoria spp. of algae often develop on greens when the soil surface is wet for an extended period of time and often high thatch and organic matter make the problem worse. Algae can seal the soil surface reducing plant growth and some species of algae can produce a toxin that causes turf yellowing.

(photos used by permission,

Improving surface drainage and increasing light exposure will help reduce the impact of algae as will certain fungicide applications. Chlorothalonil (Daconil), mancozeb (Fore) and hydrogen dioxide (ZeroTol) were shown to be very effective in reducing algae in UCR trials. Applications should be made 7 to 14 days apart to reduce the algae. However, if the surface moisture remains high, algae can often recolonize areas.

GCSA of Southern California Scholarship & Research Tournament
This last Monday, I had the pleasure to help out at GCSASC's S&R Tournament at Industry Hills Golf Course as many of our local superintendents played golf to raise money for southern California schools. Greg Fukumitsu (Syngenta Professional Products) drove his industrial-strength BBQ rig down from Ventura Co. to grill tri-tip and sausages for the players along side Dean Mosdell (Syngenta) and Mike Sommer (Simplot Partners). I have no idea what Greg's secret recipe is, but his tri-tip was as addicting as crack cocaine.

GCSASC also awarded three scholarships to some of our local students including Jerry Hernandez (College of the Desert), Brent Barnes (UC Riverside) and Marvin Seamus (Cal Poly Pomona).

I was very happy to have spent most of the day dishing out tri-tip, getting ice and driving VIPs like Jim "Speedy" Lipari and association manager Cyndy Neal around the course instead of looking at plugs of moldy turf. Thanks again to GCSASC for supporting research and education in California!

The Phantom Leaf Spot / When is it Going to Warm Up!

Not much going on in the Midwest. The weather has remained strange the past couple weeks. With day time highs in the mid 60's and lows ranging from the mid 30's to the mid 50's. Soil temperatures range from 58 F at 4 inches to 63 F at 2 inches in native soil areas. We are seeing a lot of leaf spot symptoms, but surprisingly enough we are not seeing a lot of spores in the samples. The samples have the characteristic reddish color with necrotic spots on the leaves, yet little to no sporulation on the leaf tissue. This has made diagnosis difficult because the plant and stand symptoms point directly at a leaf spot, but no signs of the pathogen. Each person that has submitted a sample has assured us that the area was not sprayed prior to submission.

However, if you do suspect leaf spot problems than an application of iprodione and chlorothalonil will do the trick, especially if the recent weather pattern continues. The forecast for this week if for warmer weather and more sunshine, which is usually the best medicine for leaf spots.

Turf managers that experienced winter kill are still trying to get areas to fill in. Because of the most recent weather pattern creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass growth has been very slow. Going back to one of John's earlier posts, the weather drives almost everything in golf course management. The best quote I've heard this spring is from Pat Sisk "We need to be patient, we can put down everything we have but if the turf isn't growing than its not gonna work."

Summer Fungicide Programs for Cool-Season Putting Greens

Summer is approaching quickly in the Southeast, and golf course superintendents are shifting their focus from growing grass on bentgrass or Poa greens to just keeping them alive. Having a solid fungicide program in place to control summer diseases is an essential part of this. Here are a few diseases to keep in mind as you put your program together:

Pythium blight. While this is a major concern on Poa greens, Pythium blight is not a common problem on creeping bentgrass. A huge amount of money is wasted every year to control Pythium blight on bentgrass greens. If you have Poa greens, keep in mind that although several of the QoI fungicides are labeled for Pythium blight control, they only provide 7-10 days of protection.

Pythium root rot. This is a persistent problem on bentgrass and Poa greens that are poorly drained. However, Pythium root rot can also occur even on well-drained greens during periods of wet weather, so nobody is immune. Of the Pythium fungicides, mefanoxam (Subdue, Fenox) is most effective against Pythium root rot. For curative control, we often recommend an application of ethazole (Koban, Terrazole), followed a few days later by mefanoxam. Remember that these applications should be watered-in since the pathogen is active in the soil.

Pythium root dysfunction. For golf courses with bentgrass greens less than 10 years old, Pythium root dysfunction is the most common problem during summer. This disease is best managed during the fall and spring when the pathogen is actively infecting roots. If symptoms are observed during the summer, relieving stress by raising mowing heights and increasing fertility levels is essential. Curative applications of Insigna, Segway, or Signature + Banol can also help to suppress symptoms, but only if steps are taken to relieve stress at the same time.

Anthracnose. This is a major concern for those with Poa greens and older cultivars of creeping bentgrass. Golf course superintendents are running out of options for anthracnose control due to fungicide resistance. Most anthracnose populations are already resistant to the benzimidazole and QoI fungicides, so do not rely on these products unless you know that your population is sensitive. The NC State Turf Diagnostics Lab offers fungicide resistance testing if you would like to find out for sure. Fortunately, most new bentgrass cultivars are very resistant to anthracnose so this disease is becoming less common in the southeast.

Fairy ring. Hot and dry weather during summer tends to bring out Type I fairy ring symptoms, decline or death of turf in ring patterns. In most cases, symptoms are the result of hydrophobicity that has developed in the thatch layer. Fungicides are not very effective for curative suppression of fairy ring, unless they are combined with wetting agents or cultivation practices to re-wet the soil profile.

Nematodes. These are a common problem on sand-based putting greens across the southeastern United States. In fact, I am convinced that nematode problems are much more common and widespread than anyone realizes. If you've never had a nematode assay done, I'd encourage you to spend the $5 or $10 to do one. You may find that chronic problems you've battled over the years are actually the result of nematode activity. While the options of nematode control are limited at this time, effective products are on the horizon.

Brown patch. Thanks to the QoI fungicides, brown patch is no longer a significant problem on putting greens. As long as you rotate the QoIs or other strong brown patch fungicides (chlorothalonil, ProStar, Endorse, Medallion) into your program once in a while they will keep brown patch in check.

Happenings Around the Northeast

As I mentioned in last weeks post, dollar spot is slowly starting to kick it into high gear. In addition to dollar spot, we have seen a fairly large increase in the amount of red thread around the region as well. As the grass has been actively growing for some time now, it is likely that any residual nitrogen in the plant and soil is being utilized to sustain this growth. Red thread and dollar spot are both diseases that thrive in low N situations.

Red Thread, originally uploaded by John E Kaminski.
A few weeks back, Dr. Inguagiato at UConn reported active brown ring patch in New England and things haven't changed much during this period. With the varying wet weather and the reversion every so often back to spring-time temperatures, BRP may last several more weeks. When you start to see those symptoms disappear you should begin to prepare yourself for the typical brown patch.

Although not disease related, I am fully aware that many golf course superintendents are dealing with increasing levels of damage from the Annual Bluegrass Weevil. While this pest typicall is found feeding on annual bluegrass, increasing reports have shown that the insect can and will feed on creeping bentgrass too. In 2001, we identified ABW causing damage to a creeping bentgrass fairway in Maryland. As of last year, entomologists have identified ABW as far south as the Carolinas and as far west as Ohio! Based on recent information at our Annual bluegrass Pest Meeting, it seems that the entomologists are making headway in understanding and controlling it. Two great resources for information on the ABW include Pat Vittum's updates at the UMass Extension site and Dupont's Weevil Trak site.

up and down, and flowers

Similar to Jim’s post a couple of days ago, we’ve had some up-and-down weather here, too. Over the past two weeks we’ve had highs ranging anywhere from 61-95. On one particular day, the low was 45 and the high was 90. I’ve suffered both wind-chill and sunburn in a short amount of time.

On one of the sunburn-type days, the Kansas Golf Course Superintendents Association held their annual research and scholarship fundraiser tournament. This year it was at Berkshire Country Club in Topeka. Thank you to Rick Farrant, owner; Ron Rindt, General Manager and David Charles, GC Supt, for hosting. And, thanks to the sponsors and to everyone who came out to play.

Due to some dry conditions, large patch symptoms were fading a bit. But, some rain 2-3 days ago kicked it back in again. Check out the photo to see the orange color at the edge of an active patch.

Speaking of zoysia, it has been flowering over the past few weeks, which causes an off-color cast to the turf which some find objectionable. Then, after mowing, you are left with some tan-colored stalks sticking up all over the place. The first photo below is zoysia. The next, for your viewing pleasure, is buffalograss, a native prairie grass that is used in our region. We even have a few buffalograss fairways around. Obviously, since the stuff evolved here, it can tolerate our climate with few inputs. What is the mysterious third flowering grass? I can't help but to post another favorite prairiegrass, eastern gammagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) which is related to corn. It's flowering now, too.

Dollar spot is definitely on the march and a lot of superintendents are keeping a close eye.

Now, getting to the serious stuff, I think something has gotten into my esteemed colleagues. They have been busy posting stuff about bermudagrass on crack, the dangers of cheating, and making mock-magazine covers about sexy ascospores and dollar spot centerfolds. I think those guys might need a long-weekend to relax and stop thinking about turf for a couple of days. Yeah, I'm talking about you, Wong and Kaminski. Jim, you seem to be pretty sane, at least for the moment...

Kikuyugrass: a California speciality

American Golf Kikuyugrass Summit
Last Monday I had a chance to particpate in a mini-summit on Kikuyugrass management for American Golf Superintendents organized by Scott Bourgeois. Kikuyugrass (Pennisetum clandestinum) is a warm season turf species both considered a noxious weed by some and also a perfect turf species for parts of southern California. It's very common in coastal regions of southern California and is the primary fairway and rough species at well known courses such as Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego and Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Native to East Africa, it was introduced to California from Australia for erosion control and spread quickly in southern California. Although common here as well as parts of Central and South America It's virtually unknown outside of southern California in the U.S. Most superintendents unfamiliar with the species often remark: "It looks like bermudagrass on crack", as kikuyuygrass often produces thick, agressive stolons.

The good things about kikuyugrass include: color retention under cool weather, aggressive growth and drought tolerance. The bad things include: the need for regular vertical mowing and thatch removal and its susceptibility to diseases like gray leaf spot, decline, and large patch.

The morning was kicked off with a tour of Riviera with superintendent Matt Morton that had been arranged by Matt Marsh (Marbella Golf & Country Club). I, being the chronic procrastinator, skipped the Riviera tour and ended up at a coffee shop on Sunset prepping a talk on Kikuyugrass diseases, where I bumped into USGA Agronomist Pat Gross on his way to Brentwood Country Club. (Life lesson: don't cheat on your girlfriend/wife, you never know who you're gonna run into).

The group then met up at Mountaingate Country Club where we spent the next few hours discussing Kikuyugrass diseases and fertility requirements and heard about Mike Wolpoff's (Seacliff Country Club) experiences with Revolver programs to remove cool season turf from Kikuyugrass fairways and roughs. The day way rounded out by a course tour with superintendent Robin Henry who shared a number of bunker rennovation tips with the group.

Overall - it was a great day sharing tips and tricks about kikuyugrass with a diverse group of southern California superintendents.

The next day, I packed up my bags to travel to Farmlinks in Sylacauga, Alabama. It's been great to see all of the research here and innovations from BASF, Toro and Agrium (as well as some very lush bermudgrass and zoysia here). More about that next week.

Martin Howard (Trump National) being eaten alive by Zoysia Patch at Farmlinks

Signing off from Farmlinks,

The Calm Before the Storm

Just a few updates from the Midwest on diseases. A few reports of brown ring patch have been trickling in. The image to the left is from Dr. Derek Settle with the Chicago District Golf Association showing stand symptoms of brown ring patch. We have also had a few samples come into the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab at UW-Madison. Kentucky bluegrass is struggling with powdery mildew and melting out throughout the Midwest. Finally dollar spot finally reared its ugly head last week when temperatures were warm and humidity levels were high. However, we have shifted back to drier conditions making it difficult for the disease to continue developing.

The weather in the Midwest has been the real story. We are experiencing wild shifts in temperature and humidity. Last week was fairly warm during the day and night with higher relative humidities. Starting last weekend however, our nighttime temperatures were consistantly in the 40's and day time temperatures consistently climbed into the 70's. This has played havoc for golf course superintendents trying to schedule pesticide applications especially those applications targeting seed head inhibition.

Just a quick note about the recent Sclerotinia meetings. A few turfgrass pathologist had a little pow wow about dollar spot biology, epidemiology and management. It was fantastic to see everyone working together to try and understand dollar spot better. Dr. Mike Boehm is working on the biology of the pathogen, using molecular tools to describe the host-pathogen interactions of dollar spot. Dr. Lane Tredway is also using molecular tools to understand why and how fungicide resistance develops. Dr. Geunwha Jung is working on some novel cultivars of creeping bentgrass and fitness of fungicide resistant dollar spot isolates. Dr. John Kaminski, myself and Dr. Damon Smith are focusing on novel fungicide timings and epidemiology of dollar spot. Finally Dr. Joanne Crouch is actually getting close to naming this fungus correctly! Tomorrow they will be discussing a regional USDA project so we can meet yearly to discuss our research and results. This is a very exciting time and with this kind of effort we will see a lot of progress with questions that we still have about dollar spot. Please stay tuned for more information!

If I made magazines...

...then June's centerfold would be Sclerotinia homoeocarpa (not Candice Cassidy).

Dollar spot is starting to show up throughout the region. As you all know, this disease is a chronic problem for most and once established it can be tough to get under control. Some cultural and chemical strategies to help manage dollar spot are:

1. Remove dew whenever possible. Extended periods of leaf wetness has been shown to drastically increase the incidence and severity of dollar spot. If you can't remove dew from all fairways, at least consider removing it from the worst.

2. Tickle the turf with N. The belief that nitrogen will completely eliminate dollar spot just doesn't hold up. However, providing adequate nitrogen in the spring to encourage growth and then spoonfeeding N during the summer can help to reduce the severity.

3. Choose your PGR's wisely. Not all plant growth regulators are considered equal when it comes to dollar spot. In general, trinexapac-ethyl (Primo MAXX, others) is not going to provide significant control of dollar spot. However, paclobutrazol (Trimmit, others) or flurprimidol (Cutless) have direct fungistatic impact on the pathogen that causes dollar spot and these PGRs can significantly reduce disease severity. Routine applications of these PGRs are also great for those of you wanting more bent and less Poa.

4. Utilize preventive fungicide applications. When managing dollar spot, preventive fungicides are key to keeping it under control throughout the season. Curative applications often require higher label rates and short application intervals, so preventive applications can actually REDUCE your pesticide use and environmental impact over the course of a season.

While this brief list can help you reduce disease pressure, you may need to consider some other things as well including: fungicide resistance; species selection; sprayer nozzle type and application volume; among others.

Weather forecast for this week:


CT Shoreline: highs of 62-70; partly cloudy with chance of mid-week showers
Hartford, CT: highs of 72-78; mostly sunny, isolated showers Wed/Thur

Washington, D.C.: highs of 73-83; chance of isolated showers mid-week

Boston, MA: highs of 63-75; sunny to partly cloudy with chance of showers Wed
Springfield, MA: highs of 72-78; mostly sunny with chance of showers Wed

New York
Albany, NY: highs of 67-77; mostly sunny with slight chance of precip on Wed
Buffalo, NY: highs of 62-73; mostly sunny with chance of showers
Westchester, NY: highs of 70-79; chance of showers mid-week

New Jersey
Cape May, NJ: highs of 68-81; chance of showers all mid-week
Far Hills, NJ: highs of 73-82; sun and clouds with slight chance of rain mid-week

Philadelphia, PA: highs of 72-84; chance of isolated showers mid-week
Pittsburgh, PA: highs of 68-79; slight chance of showers on Tues/Wed (GO PENS!)
State College, PA: highs of 69-78; chance of showers on Wed

Way the heck up there
Burlington, VT: highs of 62-76; partly cloudy with slight chance of scattered showers
Portland, ME: highs of 60-71; sunny to partly cloudy with scattered showers Wed
Rumney, NH: highs of 61-75; mostly sunny with slight chance of showers Wed

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