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Summer chugs along

A short break from the rain and storms!

After a series of days where we had not one, but TWO thunderstorms every day, the weather over the past couple of days has been pretty calm. Yup, for several days straight we had an inch or more of rain in the gauges in our yard, and last weekend there was a storm with gusts up to 80 mph. Some tree limbs were knocked down onto the powerlines in my neighborhood and power was out for 8 hours. Jim mentioned storms up his way that might blow them to Oz. Well, we just about sent Dorothy and Toto windborne up to Wisconsin.

Yesterday the highs were in the mid-80's which was a nice break from the mid-90's. However, today and tomorrow will be smokin' again...

... just in time for the Country Stampede.

What is the Country Stampede? Our quiet town of Manhattan, KS, population ~50,000, grows by 100,000 for a 4-day music festival

It's ALWAYS hot and it ALWAYS rains, turning the campground into a muddy mess that looks more like a refugee camp to me, but instead of refugees it is full of sunburnt, drunk or hungover (depending on the time of day) country music fans having the time of their lives. (Yes, there's plenty of wholesome family fun, too.) It's not my cup of tea, but I hope everyone there has a fun and safe time. Sunscreen people! Sunscreen!

So, since the Stampede is here, my forecast is that there is a 100% chance of rain this weekend.

There is definitely still some brown patch action out there. I have not personally seen any Pythium blight yet but I suspect a few folks are getting hit with the heat, humidity, and high nighttime-lows recently.

Bentgrass trial:

Here at K-State we are participating in a multi-state trial of different cultivars of creeping bentgrass. The "susceptible check" is Crenshaw, and several other cultivars are in the trial, including Declaration as an example of a newer, less susceptible cultivar.

Like the other sites, we have the cultivars at both putting green and fairway height. The next set of photos shows some recent dollar spot activity in the fairway height plots. The cultivar plots are 5 x 10, and half of each (5 x 5) gets treated, the other half not.

(Click to enlarge)

Plot view, and lesion:

Along with turf problems there are plenty of landscape ornamental diseases right now. If you deal with ornamentals on your course, you might be interested to read on:

Iris leaf spot


Zooming in closer on those lesions you can see dark structures which are the fruiting bodies (spore-producing structures) of the fungus:


This disease is very common on iris. It is caused by the fungus Heterosporium. Removing and getting rid of old leaves in the fall will help to break the disease cycle, as the fungus survives winter on old, infected leaves. There are also fungicides available, but the sanitation aspects are key.

Rose rust

upper leaf surface:



Close-up of underside of leaf:


Those dark specks that look like seeds are spores. More specifically, they are called teliospores. The orange ones are urediospores. Here they are in even closer view:


Roses vary in their susceptibility to rose rust. Starting with a resistant cultivar is a key first step. Then, like many other diseases, rose rust is favored by wet conditions. The fungus requires 2-4 hours of leaf wetness for infection to occur. The plants where I got these samples is on the north side of a building where there is a lot of shade:


Shade = more leaf wetness = more disease.

“The Case of the Disappearing Mildew”

In plant pathology we have a concept called the disease triangle which is a way of remembering that for an infectious disease to occur, we need a susceptible host, an environment conducive to disease, and a virulent, viable pathogen. For managing diseases we can change these elements such as using resistant cultivars, changing the site to be less favorable to disease, and using various techniques to attack and avoid the pathogen itself.


Check out this photo (click to enlarge):


The white circle indicates a choke cherry that has been hammered, without fail, with powdery mildew every year since I got here–2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. This summer… no powdery mildew! What is going on?

Well, where I put the dashed yellow line there used to be a dense row of plants along the fence. Then, the orange line indicates another area that used to be a lot denser. All that plant material used to make a pocket with very little airflow. The newly-opened site is less humid, and now there’s little to no powdery mildew.

The host is the same. You can bet your bottom dollar that the powdery mildew fungus is still around. But, the site (environment) is much less conducive to mildew now.

Speaking of powdery, there is no shortage of it in other sites!


Cool on the coast, hot on the inside; BRP in Arizona

Disease Activity in the West
We got some hits of anthracnose here and there in California this week, but not much disease activity overall based on the samples sent int the lab. We did get some samples coming in this last week with elevated sodium; the end of our above average rain means sodium levels are creeping back up and superintendents should be on the look out for rapid blight.

Temperature wise, it's fairly mild in the coastal areas (high 60s to low 80s), but hot in the Central Valley and Coachella (90s and 100s, respectively). After spending some time in Nashville, TN this weekend and getting hot with 100F and high humidty in DC today, I'm feeling that Californians are pretty spoiled when it comes to dry conditons and low disease pressure!

I've been talking alot about California recently - I'll try to get Rob Golembiewski from Oregon State to give us a update from the PNW sometime very soon, I don't think I'm doing a very good job of representing the disease activity in Washington and Oregon as of late.

Brown Ring Patch on Creeping Bentgrass
Gabe Towers (Target Specialty Products) in Arizona sent me a set of "beautiful" pictures from a creeping bentgrass green hit with brown ring patch. Although we're more used to seeing the yellow rings on Poa, the disease can look a lot different on bent.

Apparently Mickey Mouse can also be found in Arizona on bentgrass; note the greenish color inside the rings that we also see on Poa greens.

On this green, the BRP is pretty widespread.

But its even more obvious here where Gabe has played a little with the contrast & hue in the picture to highlight the extent of the disease.

I asked Gabe, "why do you think it's brown ring patch?".

"Upon incubation we quickly get a full-on, what was it, 'Don King's hair?' , growing from the thatch upwards," he replied.

That's a pretty damn good sign of brown ring patch!

Signing off from the right coast until next week.....

Soggy Midwest

The best way to describe the last couple weeks in the Midwest is rainy. It makes me think of a quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary." A report from Derek Settle at the Chicago District Golf Association noted that Chicago experienced the third wettest April to June on record! It seems that too many of our days have been dark and dreary. Much of what I am seeing or hearing is about flooding or soggy playing conditions. Today I received pictures from a golf course superintendent in Wisconsin documenting the flooding at their golf course. With all the residual moisture the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab has been fairly busy, with a lot of the samples showing classic leaf spot symptoms. The picture above shows the spores from one the samples we looked at. We have also gotten a lot of calls and photos pertaining to slime mold.

Dollar spot is going nuts on one of our putting greens at the OJ Noer, but really hasn't flared up on our fairway plots. We have seen a few cases of brown patch in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin as well. Derek Settle documented a few cases of basal rot anthracnose in the Chicagoland area and this weekend may be a good time to start preventative applications for anthracnose. Especially since the forecast is predicting nighttime lows to eclipse 68 F. Our anthracnose trials have not been successful the past two years even when we inoculated our plots. Partly because we rarely were warm the past two summers. However, Bruce Clarke's work shows that tank mixing Signature and Daconil provide excellent control of anthracnose.

This weekend ought to be interesting. Our department is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary starting Thursday evening and finishing on Saturday at noon. The program is going to be a lot fun with distinguished guests coming from all over the United States. For the program, I was asked to document the history of turfgrass pathology at UW-Madison. Something I learned was John Monteith and Arnold Dahl were trained in our department. If you do not recognize these names, they were the first people to write a comprehensive publication on turfgrass diseases and their management. The publication was "Turfgass Diseases and Their Control" and it was published in 1932. Anyway, Dr. Monteith received his PhD in 1923 under the tuteledge of L.R. Jones (founder of our department) and Dr. Dahl received his PhD in 1931. Dahl's PhD thesis was entitled "Snow mold of turf grasses". Both went to work for the USGA Green Section and were the primary plant pathologists working in turf throughout the 1920's 1930's and into the 1940's.

As long as we are not swept off to Oz this weekend (more thunderstorms predicted), I'm sure I'll have more diseases to report on next week.

Happy Summer! Wait- didn’t that happen about 2 1/2 weeks ago?

Well, the disease season is off to a rip roaring start. In the transition zone and southeast we have had multiple days this month that have been in the 90’s with high humidities, and warm nights not much below 70. That kind of weather translates to serious disease. Dollar spot, brown patch (below), even some potential for pythium blight. It is clear from the photo to the right (Upper left plot is untreated) that having a preventative fungicide program is crucial to achieve successful disease control.

We have had an earlier than usual disease startup, but all in all it looks like our trials are off to an excellent start. Fungicide programs that are showing the best early results are those with Signature and Daconil as a backbone as well as those that have some form of StressGard in them. Also, programs using Syngenta products are performing well too. Fungicide programs with post-patent products, and a straight Daconil 7-day program are starting to curb some dollar spot that was present prior to the trial initiation and both of those programs are demonstrating good disease control into their second applications. On the dollar spot front, most everything that we are applying is working, and we are getting good disease control. Our controls however, continue to highlight the importance of good fertility (since we are only using 0.25# N/1000/month).

Finally, UT had a groundbreaking last Friday for our 1.5 million dollar Center for Safer Athletic Fields that has been funded by AstroTurf. The 5th first-round draft pick for the Kansas City Chiefs, Eric Berry was on hand to lend his endorsement, and we are excited to be building a facility that will provide funding for athletic field research on a scale that has only been seen in golf turf research previously. Look for more regular posts from the Southeast now that Summer is officially here!!

Getting the Discussion Going...

This weekend the U.S. Open was played at Pebble Beach (image courtesy Associated Press).  Known for hosting many events each year and as a repeated site of the US Open (the USGA announced they will be back in 2019), the course proved to be a great challenge for all the players with the winner McDowell being the only one to finish at even par for the Championship.  Although I wasn't crazy about his winning, my feelings quickly changed when he gave a shout out to his friends and family back in Northern Ireland.  He went on to say that there were probably going to be a lot of Guinness pints poured tonight to celebrate.  Cheers to that.

While the excitement of Tiger coming back and the possibility of Phil overtaking him for the #1 spot, all of the buzz about the event quickly turned to the appearance of the putting greens.  Even people that have no clue about golf were emailing me and calling asking why the greens were dieing?  They suggested that I head out to the West Coast and fix the problem immediately.  While I would love the opportunity to consult for Pebble Beach (fell free to contact me anytime), I tried to explain to everyone that this was in fact not a problem and that the greens were likely not dead.

Anyway, the comments on my Facebook page and on the Turf Diseases Facebook page (and even the comment section on this site for that matter) were all buzzing about the issue.  I don't have any insider information about the issues, but as I understand it the USGA is making a conscious effort to change the perception that the game of golf is only good when it is played on lush, green, well-manicured turf.  Their focus seems to be on proving that playability and the game of golf is the important factor (Thank you Mike Davis).  If they can do this and produce healthy green turf then so be it.  If the turf is dried down and allowed to brown out to achieve the playability conditions they desire then so be it.  While the greens appeared mottled and "dead", they were still providing championship conditions and the best player that week managed to shoot even par to win. My favorite part about the questions to the look of the turf is the USGA's response that they were only doing "corrective watering" to ensure optimal consistency and playability.

Another issue that came up was the fact that the USGA did not allow the use of any green filters on the TV cameras which would have surely masked the discoloration and made everything look green.  In fact, I believe (but don't quote me) that this is going to be an increasing trend with USGA Championships in the future as they push for playability over appearance.  With golf in a general decline or a flatline at the best, I think that the USGA is doing all of us a favor and this forward thinking will help to make golf better and more affordable in the future.

Read this article talking about "brown is good".

For those of you that WANT the green lush turf, all of us on the Turf Diseases blog are in full favor of it.  This will surely result in increasing disease pressure and job security.  So have at it!

Around the NE: Things are heating up and brown patch, Pythium and possibly gray leaf spot may be right around the corner if the temps continue.  All of the usual suspects of dollar spot, anthracnose, leaf spot, etc are still active and need to be managed.  With the increased heat and summer trends, be sure to manage your summer stresses!

It's U.S. Open-a-licious

Not much to report from the West this week; temps seem pretty mild with weather in the 60s - 80s through most of California although the Central Valley has been hiting 90s and Palm Springs is already in triple digits!

Anthracnose seems to be active - not massive death and destruction anywhere, but we're picking it up here and there in the diagnostic lab and through reports from superintendents in California.

Reddish-brown symptoms already kicking in on Poa at UCR

Our poa plots at UCR are already getting anthracnose so it's shaping up to be a good year for anthracnose experiments.

The 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and a Pest You Might Not Know (& Don't Want to Have!)
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably know that the 110th US Open is on at Pebble Beach. On TV, the weather looks awesome (clear sunny days) and the course is lookin' sweet.

One problem that you won't be seeing on TV, but one that almost all of the superintendents in the Monterey and SF-Bay area with Poa greens battle is the Anguina gall nematode.
Galling on Poa annua caused by Anguina pacificae

It's a pretty unique Monterey and SF Bay area specific problem that's a pain in the fanny to manage.

Here's a great story from TurfNet about the nematode and how it affected decisions made for the upcoming 2012 Open at the Olympic Club in SF:

Some shots of damage by Akoni Ganir (Cypress Point):

and a USGA Green Section Pub on the problem:

In any case, Chris Dalhamer and crew, and the army of volunteer superintendents out on the course are doing a fantastic job! Kudos to you guys and best of luck in the next few days!

Grilling (and Chilling) With GCSA of Southern California

GCSASC President Robert Hertzing (Lakeside GC), Pat Grodoville (Palos Verdes GC) and Fred Eckert (BASF) overlooking #12 at Palos Verdes GC.

Just a quick recap of the GCSA of Southern California's Scholarship and Research Tournament held last week at Palos Verdes Golf Club on June 7th. It was great to see all of the superintendents who came out to raise money for the universities and academic scholarships!

I got to grill tri-tips all morning long with Greg Fukumitsu and Dean Mosdell from Syngenta Professional Products to feed all of the hungry superintendents and affilates who particpated in the tournament. I am convinced that I'd rather be grilling tri-tips for superintendents instead of saying "yep, you got Waitea" any day!

Thanks to course superintendent Pat Gradoville for hosting and to chapter manager Cyndy Neal for organizing the event!

Ok - until next week, signing off from the right coast.....

Slime, Goo, and Caviar

Wet Wet Wet

That is the name of the game this week. I’ve seen some pretty amazing photos of flooding at some Kansas City area golf courses, where the fairways were more like rivers, and the putting greens like islands. At one course they’d had something like 13 inches of rain in less than a week. Right here in the Little Apple we had streets and cars underwater yesterday as Wildcat Creek overflowed its banks.

As part of the rain and storms, the Heart of America Golf Course Superintendent’s Association (HAGCSA) research and scholarship tournament was rained out this week. The HAGCSA has been a great supporter of the K-State turf program, and though the tourney was unfortunately canceled/postponed, I’d like to thank the organizers at Mission Hills Country Club, with superintendent Brad Gray, for their efforts. I hope they can reschedule later this summer, as I know it is a fun event for everyone who participates.

Speaking of wet: Hot, humid weather is triggering more brown patch, such as these symptoms I saw this week:


For more details on brown patch you can visit this site:

Now, on to the slime molds, algae, and a curious case of a mycorrhiza-gone-bad


The wet conditions are triggering slime mold activity. No, those are not muddy footprints. It is slime mold in fairway-height zoysia.



The following two images were sent in by Chuck Otte, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent for Geary County. This is a slime mold that has a stalk, leading to a pretty striking appearance.

10 Turf_Geary Co_Printy_chuckotte

10 Turf_Geary Co_Printychuckotte

Now, let’s move on to goo.

This photo was taken by my graduate student Ken Obasa, and I showed it a week or two ago.


The green goo was taking over bare-dirt spots near a putting green.

Here’s a close-up


But, new THIS week, here it is in the microscope, making chains of cells, like a string of pearls:


Now, I’m not a scholar of algae (a phycologist), and I know it is dangerous to base a diagnosis based on photos, but a little searching makes me think that our algae may be in a group called Nostoc, based on some information I found here:

This is one part of a group of organisms called blue-green algae. This algae was taking over the already-bare spots, and that generally is the case. The best dose for algae is to have a healthy stand of turf.

And, finally… Caviar. (????)

Symptom: small, lime-green areas, turning tan, on creeping bentgrass greens.


In the sample, some small round structures were visible in the turf. It kind of looked like a spoonful of caviar, not that I’ve ever eaten caviar. Upon higher magnification they appeared to be a mycorrhizal fungus. (You should be able to click to enlarge)




This was a new phenomenon for me. But, apparently, mycorrhizal fungi (this one is probably in the genus Glomus) can sometimes go awry. Normally, mycorrhizae are beneficial, helping the plant take up nutrients. But in some cases, such as when nutrients are imbalanced, the turf is stressed, etc, the mycorrhiza takes more than it contributes to the partnership and ends up acting as a parasite.

There was an outbreak of this a few years ago in Chicago, all on greens that had recently been renovated. In that case, most of the spots disappeared on their own. I heard from Derek Settle of the Chicago District Golf Association that some courses had success with thiophanate-methyl, a disintestant-type product called Consan, or plugging out affected areas. Frank and John mentioned that they have seen or heard of this as well. For, me, it was my first time seeing Glomus-Gone-Wild.

Northeast Turf Diseases and a Call to @ThePCreamer

Last week I had the opportunity to visit several golf courses in the Northeastern United States on one of my five scheduled internship visits. This trip took me through CT, MA, NY, and PA where I had the chance to visit my students as well as a several golf courses. During the trip I saw a variety of diseases, but perhaps the most impressive was the take all patch severity at one course (although I saw it in MA and PA). Finally, the shout out to Paula Creamer later in this post.

Around Connecticut there were just about all the diseases and problems you would expect. I saw some damage from annual bluegrass weevils and at the UConn Turfgrass Research Facility they were throughout the ABG putting green in the pupa stage. Also seen at UConn were take all patch, dollar spot, brown patch on the colonial bentgrass, and probably other stuff that I can't remember now. You can check out all of the issues this summer at their 2nd field day on July 21st.

In Massachusetts, there was some dollar spot, anthracnose and fairy ring showing up, but one case of take all patch was the most severe that I have seen to date. In this case, it was in a bentgrass fairway that was about 6 years old. Although the course has a history of the disease, a single spray in the fall was not enough to prevent these symptoms. More aggressive fungicide programs on the tees and greens (2 fall and 2 spring apps), however, appeared to be successful. This presents a major challenge in these economic times as effective fungicides for the fairway can be an EXPENSIVE proposition.

 Anthracnose is active on annual bluegrass throughout the northeast

Fairy ring has been increasing in both putting greens and fairways.

Below is a series of take all patch images from a golf course in Mass

In other parts of the region, I observed anthracnose and fairy ring on putting greens and again the typical dollar spot, red thread, leaf spot and likely other things were active. Although not available in all states at this point, the recent release of the fungicide Torque (tebuconazole) is a MAJOR benefit for those battling anthracnose. In all of our evaluations with this active ingredient, it has consistently provided excellent control of anthracnose. You can find out more about this product in Frank's previous post here.

...and now the call to Paula Creamer
One of my students (pictured right) is currently interning at Winged Foot Golf Club and happened to have the opportunity to meet Paula Creamer at the course this past month. While he didn't have the chance to exchange digits (I believe that this is frowned upon by most clubs and I am glad he kept his distance), I thought that I would put the call to Paula here on the blog. Paula, if you are interested in Ernie feel free to contact me via @johnkaminski and I can put you two in touch. I think that you would make a great couple!

More T's

Hello from a hot & humid Kansas.

I'm a bit out of the loop and catching up after being gone on my Tajikistan adventure last week. More on that below.

It was so humid this morning that, after spending the night in cool, crisp, air-conditioned comfort, my camera fogged up in protest when I tried to snap some photos. The other big news around here is the uncertainty of what is going to happen to the Big 12, with some of our neighboring institutions bolting for other conferences.

On the disease front, dollar spot is active and I had my first brown patch sample of the year.

Now that it is heating up, zoysia is filling in/recovering where large patch was active.

Nozzle adaptation: Do you use hand-held or backpack sprayers? Then, this pub’s for you.

Dr. Bob Wolf, our Application Technology Engineer, has completed a new publication about hand sprayer calibrations. It is based on his presentation at some certified pesticide applicator trainings (CPAT) last fall. You can access it here:

The publication includes information on how to convert a simple hand-spray wand into a wand with a flat-fan nozzle. Why would this be useful? As you know, some of the flat-fan nozzles have drift-reducing technology which can help reduce problems if there is wind. So, if you are interested in flat-fans for hand-spray equipment and were not sure how to convert, you might find this useful.

In addition, there is a section that explains how to add a spray management valve (SMV) for better control of pressure and flow during spraying. Bob notes that SMV’s can be purchased from Gemplers and other such suppliers.

K-State Research Plots

Wednesday was my first visit to the Rocky Ford Turf Research Center for more than a week. Just like my home garden, where everything seemed to grow a foot or two while I was gone, things have changed a lot at Rocky Ford.

Large patch:


As you can see in the photo, healthy zoysia is starting to fill in at the centers of the patches. My PhD student Ken Obasa is using digital imaging to help track the recovery time of zoysia grass under different treatments. The size of the patches is one thing, but tracking time-to-recovery is an important component.

Dollar spot


I have 3 separate dollar spot trials this year, looking at various rates, timings, and active ingredients. In the photo above you can see a few dollar spot infection centers in an untreated plot.

Moss fertility study


The red dots here outline plots where we are examining the influence of different fertility regimes on moss development. MS student Cole Thompson works on this project as well as some other moss and dollar spot studies.

Zoysia sun/shade physiology


These are flats of zoysia that will be used for a sun/shade physiology study that Kenton Peterson will conduct as part of his PhD program. In fact, since Wednesday the plants are now in the ground. Why are some of the flats brown? There was a surprising reaction to an herbicide. Those plants are now replaced. Sometimes, in research, we find interesting and unusual things by accident. It is interesting how different varieties or crosses of the same species can have such dramatically different reactions to chemicals.

Kenton joined us a few months ago after completing his MS at Nebraska. We try not to hold his Nebraska background against him, though that may become more difficult if the Cornhuskers bolt for the Big 10.

More on the T's.

Frank did a great job sorting out all those DMI's that start with T.

Now, this doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but I was just thinking about another T earlier this morning. That would be, Mr. T.

Last night, my brother sent me a link to Mr T's video of "Treat your mother right." "Mother, there is no other, so mother, treat her right, treat her right." I'm not sure if it can really be called "music" but it is interesting.

Maybe Mr. T can do a song about treating your turf right. I'd really, really love for that to happen.

And, one final T, for Tajikistan.

If you are curious about my trip, there is a brief overview here:

There is a description, links to a few photos, etc.
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