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A Successful Inaugural Year

Well we have made it through our first year (really only about 7 months) of posting for the disease blog and overall I think that it has been a big success.  Overall we had just about 150 posts from the turf faculty.  These ranged from quick updates about things around the region, to more in-depth research results, to a few funny stories and naughty pictures.

2009 Recap
Our Visitors

2009 Turf Diseases Blog Traffic
In our first full month, we had over 2000 visits and as you might expect the peak period of activity was in August and September when turf diseases are at their worst (or best depending on whose perspective you are coming from).

One of the changes I made to our tracking was to install Google Analytics towards the end of the year (mid December to be exact). So the numbers we are getting from are not overwhelming, but they do shed some light on just how far our reach has been not just in the United States but globally.

Global Reach
2009 December Map
Although this data only represents the last 2 weeks of the year (since switching to google analytics) we did manage to reach 640 people from 25 different countries and territories (shown in green)!

Traffic Sources
December Traffic
We definitely want to thank all of those that have added turfdiseases to their own blogs and have driven traffic to the site. This site is built for the sole purpose of informing golf course superintendents about problems that may be on the rise in their area. A special shout-out goes to TurfNet as they seem to have driven a lot of traffic to the site in the past year (not to mention in the last two weeks.)

I would also like to thank the folks at GCSAA and Golf Course Management for their mentions of the blog.

A Look Towards 2010

Towards the end of 2009, you probably noticed that we had less than consistent postings.  This was expected as the disease problems started to slow down in most areas and teaching responsibilities and conference season picked up for most of us.  While we can't promise a post every day of the week, I can assure you that next year we plan to get back into the swing of things.

In addition to our routine postings about current disease topics, look for some special "guest" posts from colleagues in the United States and other parts of the world.  With the apparent interest in the site from other countries, and upcoming international trips for some of the primary pathologists on the blog, we plan to initiate an "International" posting date during the year.  Again, this will not occur every week, but weekend posts have been reserved for postings from other parts of the world.  Just some potential regions include posts from Asia, Argentina, The United Kingdom, France, and South Africa just to name some.

As always, I wish to thank the readers of the blog and ENCOURAGE you to participate publicly or privately.  Although the authors would like to get out to every section of their region to find out exactly what is going on, sometimes this just isn't possible.  So send us an email or photo and let us know what is happening in your area during the year.  Your information may prove invaluable for a fellow golf course superintendent in your region or another part of the world!

Signing off from 2009...(looking forward to getting my "drink on" tonight). CHEERS!

Snow in the Northeast, Dormant turf in Dallas

This week, I had the opportunity to visit a couple of golf courses in the Dallas region. While I was touring these courses, the entire Northeast was getting pummeled by one of the largest snow storms of the century (thank goodness for the #snOMG posts on twitter, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to keep up with it).

Anyway, since the entire Northeast is currently under anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more of snow, I thought that I would give a special post for those in the Dallas area.  My visits took me to the Dallas National Golf Club and Colonial Country Club.  These 2 courses provided a unique opportunity to see a mix of both warm-season fairways/roughs and cool-season putting greens.  Recent cold temperatures shut down the growth of the bermudagrass (Colonial Country Club) and zoysiagrass (Dallas National) fairways and slowed the growth of the bentgrass putting greens.  The greens were in excellent condition at both clubs and disease issues were few and far between.

During the season, diseases that can often be found on the course include fairy ring, spring dead spot, and large patch.  In fact, there was a few remaining patches of large patch on the zoysia in the practice facility where fungicides are used on a limited basis.  Control of the patch diseases is being managed with fall and spring fungicide applications.  As you can imagine, the major issues at the courses are seen during the heat of the summer when severe stress is put on the bentgrass putting greens.  I hope to get back sometime to see the course in these conditions...a pathologists dream!

Other issues which I don't typically get to deal with included the development of algae in some of the bunkers and the management of warm-season encroachment into the bentgrass putting greens.  I hope to be able to pass along some information from our GCSAA algae grant which is currently in progress.  Although the project's goal is to manage algae on putting green turf, I am interested to see if some of our findings could translate to the bunker sand as well.

The visit with Scott Ebers and Brannon Goodrich was great and I appreciate their hospitality in showing me around the course.  Both courses were in excellent condition and unique.  Colonial with its rich history and long-standing relationship with the PGA and Dallas National with its unique zoysiagrass fairways and spectacular views are must a must see for anyone interested in golf OR interested in growing bentgrass in some of the most difficult environments.  To me, this would be like growing Poa greens in the mid-Atlantic...not an easy task during the intense summer months.

Despite being in Texas, we were impacted by the storm as all flights from Dallas to Philadelphia were canceled on Sunday and here I sit in the airport on Monday writing a new post. I just hope that we make the earlier flight (currently on standby), because if we don't we will not get home until ~11PM. I did post an image above of Dallas National taken from my phone, but I will have to wait until I get home to upload photos from the course.

Another Good Winter for Snow Mold

As Megan mentioned we got hammered with snow last week. The total snowfall amounts vary but we received over 15 inches of snow! Yes it took me most of the day on Wednesday to clear my driveway, but a wonderful neighbor used his bobcat to clear "plow trash" at the end of my driveway. The picture was taken last Wednesday morning and I was clearing a path for my dog to use the restroom. Following the snowfall, temperatures plummeted! The high last Thursday was 7 and the low was -4, so I think the snow is going to stick around a while.

With the amount of snowfall we received last week that fell on unfrozen ground, it appears that this winter is going to be conducive for gray snow mold development. Gray snow mold is induced by two Typhula species- T. incarnata and T. ishikariensis. Other names for the disease are Typhula blight and speckled snow mold. All cool-season turfgrasses are affected by gray snow mold, but the degree of severity differs with turfgrass species and the length of snow cover. Persistent snow cover provides an ideal environment for the gray snow mold pathogens to thrive and infect turfgrasses. If snow cover persists for more than 60 days than gray snow mold is likely to be problematic. When snow cover persists for more than 90 days, gray snow mold is often very severe. It is important to have an idea of how long snow persists in your location to develop a successful gray snow mold management program. Fungicides that are efficacious in areas with low to moderate snowfall may not be effective in areas with high snowfall amounts. I know I have posted our snow mold trials before, but it never hurts to repeat things. The reports clearly state how much snowfall was recorded at testing location. So pick the most appropriate site based on your conditions and hopefully you can find a chemical or mixture of chemicals that work for your budget.

What happens if we experience a winter thaw do I need to reapply fungicides? This is a question we routinely get, however I have yet to experience a winter thaw. I know I have only been here for one winter, still the last couple of winters have been fairly harsh. It is frivolous to apply fungicides when the ground is frozen, so that is the first thing to check. If the ground is not frozen then the answer is maybe. We are working with commercially available ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay) kits to determine how long chlorothalonil and iprodione persist under snow cover and in the absence of snow cover. This technology is used to determine fungicide concentration in fleshy fruits like apples. We have just received some new data that demonstrates that our extraction method works very well and we are eagerly working on collecting degradation data this winter. Along with determining how these fungicide degrade, we are performing inoculations in the growth chamber to figure out when we lose protection to Microdochium nivale. There is more to come with this research so please stay tuned!

One interesting side note we learned from this project is the actual concentrations of the pesticides in the bottle/tank and what is detected on the plant. For example, Daconil Weatherstik is 54% chlorothalonil, when mixed in 2 gallons of water per 1000 sq ft the concentration of the solution drops to about 16 %. Then once the chemical is applied and allowed to dry for one hour we can detect about 600 parts per million on and within the leaf. I don't know if anyone else thinks those are interesting numbers, but I sure did. This spring we are going to repeat this experiment and we plan to include a sample to test fungicide concentration directly from the nozzle.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a happy new year to all of our readers! I am heading to North Carolina this Saturday for the holidays, so this will likely be my last post for the year. Thanks to all of the readers and thanks to John for putting the blog together!


Kansas Snow Conference, I mean, Turf Conference

Hello from a cold and snowy Kansas,

Yes, I know the 6-8 inches we got here can't compete with the 15+ inches Jim experienced up in Wisconsin. He's probably barely shoveled out his driveway by now. But, 6-8 inches is big news for us. As a native of the north country, I'm a big fan of snow.

Unfortunately, the snow did put a little bit of a damper on our Kansas Turf Conference which was Tuesday-Thursday over in Topeka. Some folks could not make the drive (I myself saw plenty of cars in the ditch on I-70 on the drive over), and many of our usual participants from the lawn and landscape side of things were busy out making money on their snow-plowing contracts. But, we still had fairly good attendance and on the upside, those that were there got extra attention, and extra donuts.

Our out-of-state speakers this year were John Stier from U of Wisconsin. I'm not sure how he dodged blizzards on both ends of his travel, but he did make it in. John was a highly energizing and entertaining speaker. We also had two speakers from Oklahoma State, plant pathologist Damon Smith and entomologist Eric Rebek. Both of them provided great updates from our neighboring state to the south. In from the east coast was Grady Miller from NSCU. Grady was a favorite in our athletic field workshop. Finally, we had some USGA updates from Larry Gilhuly.

Thanks to all who braved the weather to come on out.
At the conference, I continued my multi-year dominance of my category in the "longest drive" contest. Our student GCSAA chapter sets up a camera and some netting, and as a fundraiser for them you can pay a little bit to enter the competition. Of course, I also came in LAST place in my division. As one of the few women at the turf conference, and the only one who ever enters, I always win first place while simultaneously coming in last. My score was 198, which was beter than last year's ~120 (I'm not very good!)

Finally, over beer one night, I heard one of the more funny things I've heard in awhile, "You know you are getting old when ibuprofen is your drug of choice."

Switching topics, you might remember I posted a photo of some striped chilling damage in bermudagrass awhile back. I'll post that again here. A week or so ago, someone emailed to me the second photo, showing frost in some fescue. It's a little hard to see with the shadows, but that certainly looks like the same type of pattern, eh?
To wrap up, last time I mentioned some yellow patch and in the follow-up comments there was some chatter about brown ring patch. We did confirm in the lab that the fungus was indeed the yellow patch pathogen. So far, brown ring patch has not been detected in Kansas but I'm keeping my eyes open.
And, Frank, don't worry about publishing on Friday. Actually, I think we should ALL post something on John's day, just to get him riled up :)

Brown Ring Patch, Polyoxin-D & Savage Pathology Style Q&A

Sorry for barging in on Megan's Friday posting but better late than never :)

Brown Ring Patch on Creeping Bentgrass in Arizona?
Gabe Towers (Target Specialty Products) in Arizona sent these pictures in from a creeping bentgrass green at a course outside of Phoenix. According to his observations, it's definitely a Rhizoctonia-type disease and the mycelia and symptoms look an awful lot like what we would expect brown ring patch to look like on bentgrass. Unlike the bright yellow rings associated with the disease on annual and rough bluegrass, brown ring patch on bentgrass makes nice brown sunken rings. These symptoms are like those first described for the disease orginally in Japan on this turf type.

One of the things that we're seeing here is also the development of patches without rings. Although rings are typically seen with the disease, we did isolate Waitea circinata var. circinata from similar patches in Idaho last year.

The most compelling evidence for brown ring patch would be the presence of aeial mycelium after incubation plus the sunken degraded thatch on the greens.

We're working with Gabe right now to confirm the pathogen identity, but if it is brown ring patch, that'd be a first for the disease on creeping bentgrass in Arizona.

Polyoxin-D: Soon Available in Two Fruity Flavors!
Well, not really. Polyoxin-D fungicides kind of smells like Top Ramen to me. Polyoxin-D has proven to be one of the best fungicides for brown ring patch control and will soon be available from two companies in 2010. There's a little bit of a backstory on this one, but I'll skip the details and just say that two formulations from two different companies will be available soon.

Endorse 2.5WP is now part of Arysta's line of turf fungicides. It was previously marketed and distributed by Cleary Chemical, and we should expect no major changes to the label and the use rate will continue to be at 4 oz per 1,000 sq ft.

Cleary Chemical will now be selling Affirm 11.3WDG. This has about 4x more polyoxin-D than Endorse, so the expected use rate will be 1 oz per 1,000 sq ft.

For more information (as it becomes available) please see the maunfacturer websites:

Question of the Week
This is kind of a new feature for the Left Coast blog, but inspired by columns such as Dear Abby, Car Talk, and Savage Love, and the slow down of info this winter, I'm going to try to post Q&As recieved by email.

Hi Frank,

I am looking for a third product for snow mold control on poa greens (monterey peninsula). My curent rotation is Instrata followed by Chipco GT every 14 to 21 days depending on the disease pressure. I was considering Eagle in combo with Fore any thoughts?

Thanks in advance,
Moldy in Monterey

Dear Moldy -

Pink snow mold in California can be tricky since it can fire at cold (< 65F daytime temps) and wet conditions without snowfall. As you know, it can go from 50 to 80F in a week in parts of California during the winter, especially in southern California, making this disease somewaht unpredictable. As such, creating a clear, defined pink snow mold (aka Microdochium patch) preventive fungicide program can be dififcult and often superintendents end up making a lot of curative applications for this disease. Please look at page 16 from Paul Vincelli's (University of Kentucky) overview of turf fungicides - the ratings are based on the average of trials performed for the last 10 or so years over all of the US.

Can you use PCNB? If you consistently stay below 70F during the winter - PCNB is really useful - long lasting, no resistance, cheap - but, if it goes over 70F, you can potentially get burn and or root pruning at high rates. Maybe target PCNB apps for the coldest part of the year , saving your Instrata applications for times when temps can get warmer.

Since Instrata = Banner + Medallion + Daconil, Medallion and Daconil are probably limited as alternate rotation partners due to label rate limitations.

You can use another DMI (Banner, Eagle, etc..) in the rotation since DMI resistance really hasn't been an issue for pink snow mold yet - but as you can see from Paul's chart, some DMIs work better than others. It'd probably be a good idea to mix this application with something else for added protection. As you indicated, mancozeb (Fore) is a good choice in your case.

I think the QoIs (Heritage, Compass, Insignia, Disarm) can be dicey for snow mold control; we've seen a few cases of resistance in CA, but this topic needs a lot more research. Thiophanate-methyl should be used with caution, resistance has been around in WA since the 1980s.

Finally, good call on the Chipco 26GT as a rotation partner. Since tolerance may be an issue in some places, keep the rates on the higher end or mixing with a contact such as mancozeb in your rotation may help.

How's that sound?


That's it for this week. Signing off from the Left Coast.....

yellow patch/cool season brown patch

I've been pretty quiet lately. No international adventure trips like John, no potpourri of diseases like Frank is seeing.

The most interesting thing is that there has been a little bit of yellow patch (cool-season brown patch). In Kansas, we most typically see this disease towards the end of winter, like in late February/early March (that is when the photo was taken). But, the pathogen (Rhizoctonia cerealis) can certainly be active at the temperatures we have been seeing lately.

One superintendent noted that he tends to see yellow patch more in greens that are primarily (>80%) Poa annua, not bentgrass. I have not noticed that myself but am wondering if others have seen the same trend.

Another interesting turf disease issue this fall is a tremendous amount of powdery mildew. The fungi which cause powdery mildew do not require leaf wetness, but they do appreciate some humidity. We've had a wet autumn, so that has probably increased the disease pressure. In some shady areas there's so much powdery mildew that it looks like someone sprayed white paint on the ground.

No Fun

I hope everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving last week!

Here in California, it's been pretty slow in the Wong Lab. Things are getting pretty cool here (by California standards) and here in the picture, you can see our Tifway-II is pretty much headed into full dormancy in Riverside with our soil temps in the mid-50s. My PhD. student, Chi-Min Chen, and undergrad lab assistant (Erica Serna) are helping me inoculate plots with Ophiosphaerella korrae - one of the causal agents of spring dead spot. I heard the comment of 'this is no fun' a few times this morning which reminded me of a joke my mom told me when I was a kid. It kinda goes something like this:

Q: "What was the name of the first Chinese test-tube baby?"
A: "No-fun Son"
(apologies to the defenders of political correctness out there)

For those who didn't get that maybe this will help:

The 'maladie de la semaine' continues to be rapid blight on annual bluegrass greens - temperatures in the 60s-80s and a lack of substantial rainfall is allowing salts to continue to accumulate and cause conditions that favor rapid blight.The half-inch of rain that we got in parts of California last week didn't help much in knocking salts & sodium down, e.g. we need substantial or consistent rain to help us flush out the last several months of sodium accumulation on greens.

However, we're expecting some rain and showers, especially in northern and central California starting this weekend /early next week and lasting for a few days. That's great news as far as knocking down salts but bad news as far as Microdochium patch/pink snow mold.With a few days of moisture and daytime temps < 65F, we'll likely see some pinkie firing on annual bluegrass. If you don't already have a preventive fungicide application down, it'd be a good idea to squeeze one out before the showers and rain start in the next few days.

Signing Off from the Left Coast Until Next Week....

Highlights from the 44th Annual Wisconsin Golf Turf Symposium

Like Megan, I have also been very quiet. Snow mold fungicide trials dominate our time during the late fall and I am happy to say we have put another snow mold season to rest. At least the applications are complete, now we patiently wait for the snow to fly! I know this comes as a huge surprise to some, but its pretty chilly in Wisconsin. This has not been the norm however. We just experienced one of the warmest Novembers on record. Although our temperatures were warm, we have not seen or heard much from anyone in the Midwest. So I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about the Wisconsin Golf Turf Symposium held Nov. 17 and 18 at the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin.

The speakers included Stuart Lindsey (Edgehill Golf Advisors), Todd Quitno (Lohmann Golf Designs), Dr. Frank Rossi (Cornell University), Bob Vavrek (USGA Green Section), Dr. Eric Watkins (University of Minnesota) and myself. Mr. Lindsey lead the meeting off with a grim depiction of the golfing population. The golf population is declining to 1990's level with most of the golfers exceeding 55 years of age. Mr. Lindsey then provided advice on how to reduce costs or at least ways to identify where the majority of the golf course superintendents' budget is spent. He recommended that golf course superintendents' do time studies to determine if the maintenance operation can become more efficient. He also presented data indicating the main reason people are staying away from golf is time. They do not want to play a 4.5 hour round. Mr. Lindsey's was not all gloom and doom. He said that supply is meeting demand due to the halt of golf course construction and golf course closures.

After Mr. Lindsey, Dr. Rossi took the stage and talked about the Bethpage project and on the second day spoke about sustainable golf turf management. Dr. Rossi demonstrated that a purely organic golf course is not an option for a course like the Bethpage Green Course. He then outlined their alternative cultural practices and IPM program. The cultural practices they enacted were reduced mowing frequency with supplemental rolling, increased rolling frequency, only N, Fe, and Primo were applied, topdressing was performed every 7 to 10 days, solid tine or water injection was conducted every three weeks and spiking was performed weekly. When this program was coupled with an IPM program- that developed historical records, managed plant health, utilizes predictive models, used EIQ values to determine pesticide usage, treated preventatively and focused on playability- reduced product expenses by 20 to 40 %. They determined this by comparing their alternative method to methods commonly used by golf course superintendents.

On the second day Dr. Rossi spoke about sustainable golf turf management, which focused on climate change and carbon sequestration. The take home message from this talk was to think about climate change and to find ways to make a golf course carbon neutral. Dr. Rossi's group determined that a conventional management strategy and the alternative management strategy were carbon neutral. I got the indication that turfgrass plants are pretty good carbon sequesters. No matter what your particular views about climate change or sustainability, I think Dr. Rossi's presentations had some very good points. I encourage you to contact him if you have anymore questions about these to particular presentations.

Dr. Eric Watkins presented on low-input turfgrasses. Basically there are more options coming for low-input fairway and putting green grasses. Many turfgrass breeders, including Dr. Watkins are working on improving agronomic and disease resistance traits of grasses like colonial bentgrass, velvet bentgrass, tufted hairgrass, and tall fescue just to name a few. I especially enjoyed his table presenting the NFC North standings to a Wisconsin audience! That took guts!

Bob Vavrek talked about developing maintenance standards. He stressed this so the golf course superintendent has clear goals that are attainable. It also allows for accountability. He presented a case study from Baker Hill Golf Club. They had maintenance standards outlined as well as links to USGA Green Section articles on rationale for fixing ball marks and aerification. Mr. Quitno presented design methods that reduce expenditures. For example on one particular case, they reduced teeing areas substantially and increase air movement to tees and greens. He also demonstrated the cost differences between different bunker designs. I had no idea that renovating bunkers could be so expensive!

Essentially the take home message from the meeting for me, was to try and find ways to mow less. And to start thinking about ways to reduce pesticide expenditures. It was a fantastic meeting and I was honored to have the opportunity to speak this year.
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