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104! Again!

I was pretty surprised a short time ago to glance up and see sheets of rain and driving winds outside my window. A storm popped up out of the blue. High today is supposed to be 104. 2-inch soil temps in Manhattan have had some peaks in the 90's. Ugh.

When I got back to town late Wednesday afternoon I found a few turf samples waiting, and a few more rolled in Thursday and Friday. More of the same--steam-cooked roots.

Bacterial Wilt

Wow, you know, there's been so much chatter about bacterial wilt that I don't have much more to contribute. I'll just say that I, too, feel that it is important to be skeptical. If you've missed the BW discussions, scroll back through the blog and be sure to read the comments at the bottom.

Stress tips from USGA
The following link has some comments and tips from USGA agronomists:
Here’s an excerpt, and you can go to the link for the full info:
“It is important that golf course superintendents use defensive golf course maintenance programs. That is, be conservative and pamper the grass. The turfgrass is under intense weather stress, which is compounded by an increase in disease pressure. Everyone should be more concerned about plant health than green speed."

Scientific Conferences

I spent Saturday through Wed at the national plant pathology meeting in Charlotte, NC. What do we do at these conferences?
The main thing is to exchange ideas about research. In human medicine, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work at medical schools, research institutions, etc, before things reach practical day-to-day doctor’s offices. Plant pathology is the same.
Genes and proteins
At the more fundamental level, plant pathologists are researching things like:
*How do bacteria secrete proteins into the plant to allow infection to occur? How do those proteins change gene expression in the plant? How can we develop plants that can defend against these bacterial proteins?
*How do viruses move around within a thrips (insect) before getting transmitted back to the plant? Is there a way to prevent this from happening?
*How can we use DNA sequences to more efficiently identify resistance genes?
“What’s in a name”? A LOT!
Knowing the correct identity of pathogens is also critical. Some pathogens are really hard to tell apart based on what they look like in the microscope, so these days DNA sequence information is often used to sort things out. At the conference, there were sessions about Phytophthora and Pythium, two genera of plant pathogens that are very tricky to identify. There are some poorly described species out there. It’s hard to understand how things grow, spread, cause infection, etc, when there is mis-identification.
In the turf world, we had a whole afternoon dedicated to new (and tricky) diseases of turf caused by organisms in the genus Rhizoctonia. Now that we have better DNA techniques, some things we thought were true in the past are being called into question. The speakers in this excellent symposium were Phil Harmon (FL), Frank Wong (CA), Bruce Martin (SC), and Brandon Horvath (TN), and it was moderated by Jim Kerns (WI).
Weather and plant disease
We all know that weather can be a big factor in plant diseases, but are there ways of precisely quantifying those relationships and using those relationships to make predictions? There were many sessions about that, including a poster by Damon Smith at Oklahoma State who is looking at weather variables and dollar spot.
These are just a few of the types of things that we do.
On top of that, we have committees that do things like:
  • work with K-12 educators to help enhance science activities in the classroom
  • assist colleagues who are researching important disease problems in developing countries with the hopes of increasing global food security
  • work with graduate students to help them find appropriate career tracks
  • work with the chemical industry to discuss ways to mitigate fungicide resistance
I always come back feeling somehow rejuvenated but exhausted all at the same time.

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