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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.

3 Responses to “Slime, Goo, and Caviar”

Frank Wong said...

That Glomus can have a nasty, fishy smell. Leave a plug of it in your truck through the day and it's garaunteed that you won't be able to use that truck for a day or two unless you like the smell of rotten fish.

John Kaminski said...

Glomus Gone Wild...that sounds like a good subject for another "PlayTurf" cover!

Megan said...

Well, Frank, Glomus has almost the same letters as Gollum (from Lord of the Rings) so a nasty fishy smell makes perfect sense.

(That is my fantasy/sci-fi geekdom coming through)

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