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Dead Bentgrass Makes Headlines


Well, you know things are rough when the local media is writing about Pythium, aerification, and MiniVerde bermudagrass. Unfortunately that's where we are here in North Carolina and many other parts of the southeast. Check out the following article from last Thursday's Charlotte Observer: 


Hot Weather Turning Putting Greens to Toast


Overall, I think its a pretty accurate description of the struggles that golf courses are facing in the region. I'd be curious to hear everyone's thoughts. There are also a couple of factual errors in the article. I'll give a prize to the first people to point them out by leaving a comment on this post!


A lot of people have been asking about converting their greens to ultradwarf bermudagrasses. They are definitely a good option in certain situations, and several courses in the area have made the switch with great success.


My only advice is this: if you can't maintain good bentgrass greens because of problems with shade, air movement, or soil drainage, then you won't be able to maintain good bermudagrass greens either. The courses that have been most successful in converting to ultradwarfs also removed trees, improved air movement, and corrected drainage problems. Who knows, maybe bentgrass would be doing just fine with these improved growing conditions?

19 Responses to “Dead Bentgrass Makes Headlines”

John Kaminski said...

Great post Lane. I found some factual errors, but will leave it to the readers to find and post! The best part about your post is the last paragraph in which you talk about bentgrass likely surviving with the improved conditions (air movement, tree removal, etc.). I equate this to the clubs that hire a new superintendent and then allow him all the leeway to do the things that the last superintendent was asking to do!

John

joe said...

Pythium blight is a is fungal disease, and not a bacteria. I also believe that Bermuda grass greens should be aerified more than once per year. More great information to support us and the battle we are facing this season.

John Kaminski said...

Maybe the newspaper should read page 38 of the August GCM issue.

"Myth No. 4: Ultradwarf bermudagrasses require less maintenance than creeping bentgrass in greens from the transition zone to the South. Busted!..."

Megan said...

Great stuff!

The general press sometimes does not get things quite right. A few of my own encounters have made me a little bit (a tiny, tiny, but still significant bit) more sympathetic to politicians, etc, who get misquoted all the time.

Anonymous said...

TPC Sawgrass did not convert from bentgrass. G

Anonymous said...

TPC Sawgrass was bentgrass originally. Bermuda greens need aerification at least twice per year. Pythium is misspelled "pithium".

swstout said...

Brown Patch (also called Rhizoctonia blight) is a disease most common to Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, Centipede Grass, Bentgrass, St. Augustine, and ryegrasses in regions with high humidity and/or shade. Brown patch commonly starts as a small spot and can quickly spread outwards in a circular or horseshoe pattern up to a couple of feet wide. Often times, while expanding outwards, the inside of the circle will recover, leaving the brown areas resembling a smoke-ring. Brown patch can temporarily harm a lawn's appearance and cause permanent loss of grass plants that are less than 1 year old.
Conditions favorable for brown patch development include:

1. The presence of active fungi
2. Vigorous growth of a susceptible grass
3. Daytime temperatures ranging between 75 — 85
4. The presence of free moisture on the foliage
5. Night temperatures falling below 70.
6. Lawn thatch greater than 0.5”
7. Compacted soil
8. Absence of adequate soil biolife
Treatment and Prevention
1. Reduce the presence of active fungi. Clean grass residue of mower after cutting affected areas on a sunlit hard surface such as a driveway. As the sun dries the residue it will kill the fungus and prevent transplanting the fungus to healthy areas,
2. Deter vigorous growth of a susceptible grass. Fast acting chemical fertilizers high in nitrogen cause a flush of succulent growth that is very susceptible to brown patch. Use only slow acting organic fertilizers.
3. Eliminate lawn thatch greater than 0.5”. Thatch is an excellent “home” for the fungus because of its hater holding properties.
4. Reduce compacted soil. Aeration facilitates surface drainage and allows air and nutrients to get to roots and soil biolife.
5. Make sure there is adequate soil biolife. Beneficial biolife (bacteria and enzymes) feed on harmful fungus, decompose thatch turning it into healthy lawn humus and transform nutrients and trace elements into nutrients for your lawn. I recommend Bio-enhanced liquid dethatcher.
6. Feed your soil biolife. One of the best biolife foods is molasses. Molasses has over 100 complex sugars that feed a significantly more diversity of microbes. I recommend Nature’s Magic (a combination of humic acid - sometimes called liquid humus and molasses supplemented with over 30 trace elements and plant hormones.
7. Refrain from using chemical fungicides. Although these kill the Brown Patch fungus, they also kill the biolife that will naturally eliminate them. Horticultural Cornmeal is a favorite food of a certain very friendly Good Fungus, called Trichoderma. This Fungus attacks several common Bad Fungi that attack Lawn grasses, specifically Sclerotinia ('Dollar Spot'), Sclerotium ('Southern Blight' and other diseases), and Rhizoctonia ('Brown Patch'). Note: horticultural cornmeal is not corn gluten meal. Corn gluten meal is an excellent pre-emergent weed controller but has no effect on fungi. Horticultural cornmeal is the organic fungus controller. When used at a rate of 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet every 90 days, corn meal will keep all (yes all) turf fungus at bay. If the fungus has already gotten a foothold, use it at 20 #/1,000 square feet.
8. Irrigate only when needed and then irrigate deeply (6-8”). Irrigate during the pre-dawn hours or early morning so surface water can evaporate before the afternoon day heat arrives. Never irrigate in the late afternoon or evening.

John Kaminski said...

Hey swstout,

1.) was that comment a joke?
2.) nothing keeps ALL fungus at bay (not even traditional chemicals)
3.) Come to our field day at Penn State next week to see how our "biocontrol" trials are going
4.) how much nitrogen is in your horticultural cornmeal at 20 lbs/1000?
5.) since your post was obviously an advertisement...you might as well place a link to your site so we can all head over to evaluate all of the research based data to support your claims.

Thanks,

Dr. K

Anonymous said...

perhaps this is his site?

http://swstout.com/

Philip Harmon said...

Ultradwarf bermudagrass does make a nice putting surface in the summer, and in Florida it's definitely the way to go for high end courses with budget to take care of it. It’s like a Ferrari, big potential for performance, big inputs up front and in maintenance to keep it up (you also don’t want to take it out in the winter). Fungicide budgets are lower for most courses with bermudagrass as compared to bent in the same area. If you overseed, budget savings may evaporate pretty quickly in additional expenses and inputs to get bermudagrass through the transition. Painting is a good alternative, and painted bermudagrass greens are fast and fun to putt. With all that said, don’t think that ultradwarf bermudagrasses are without their own disease issues. You are less likely to lose one outright, but damage in the late summer and fall sticks with you through spring. Recovery is regrow, sod, or sprig and only when soils are somewhere above 55 F with good light intensity. Think it through.

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like the guys at Michigan State have the solution to bacterial wilt? Can anyone share their secret with us?

swstout said...

Hey swstout,

1.) was that comment a joke?
No, it was not a joke! Brow patch is a big problem here and I have tried to research data and info from local professionals and the web.

2.) nothing keeps ALL fungus at bay (not even traditional chemicals)
I said nothing about keeping ALL fungus at bay! I clearly stated, Reduce the presence of active fungi. Clean grass residue of mower after cutting affected areas on a sunlit hard surface such as a driveway. As the sun dries the residue it will kill the fungus and prevent transplanting the fungus to healthy areas

3.) Come to our field day at Penn State next week to see how our "biocontrol" trials are going
I really wish I could! Learning is a continuing process that I actively seek out

4.) how much nitrogen is in your horticultural cornmeal at 20 lbs/1000?
From http://www.dirtdoctor.com/view_question.php?id=18
DISEASE CONTROL - Use horticulture cornmeal for root and soil borne fungal diseases at 10 - 20 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. Cornmeal works as a disease fighter in the soil by stimulating beneficial microorganisms that feed on pathogens such as brown patch in St. Augustine, damping off in seedlings and other fungal diseases. Use cornmeal at about 2 lbs. per 100 square feet to help control any soil borne fungal diseases on both food and ornamental crops. One application may be all that is needed, but multiple applications are okay if necessary because cornmeal serves as a mild organic fertilizer and soil builder. Cornmeal needs moisture to activate. Rain won’t hurt cornmeal’s efficacy because, like all organic products, it is not water soluble. Cornmeal tea can also be used for disease control. Soak 1 cup of cornmeal in 5 gallons of water for 30 minutes to an hour, strain out the solids and spray the foliage of plants.
Nitrogen in horticultural cornmeal – 1-3%

5.) since your post was obviously an advertisement...you might as well place a link to your site so we can all head over to evaluate all of the research based data to support your claims.
http://www.theorganiclawncarestore.com

Thanks,

John Kaminski said...

Phil,

Thanks for the great post. For those of us not dealing with Bermudagrass I always wonder what it took to maintain the turf in the South. How did those with Bermudagrass greens end up after last winter (which was a harsh one)?

JK

Anonymous said...

If my greens had brow patch, should I use wax on it, or just pluck it?

Anonymous said...

Lol, good one anonymous!

Atilla said...

Guys, simple someone out there from public cares...Some thing he might missed out, so what!

golfman60 said...

Promoting more awareness here from no other than the Carolinas own, Trent Bouts.
http://www.thepilot.com/news/2010/aug/01/when-it-comes-heat-courses-fighting-nature/

Grady said...

Comment from anonymous 1: TPC would throw in some bentgrass in their overseed mix, but the 10+ years I walked around the course it had Tifdwarf bermudagrass greens (most of the year) before renovation to Miniverde. Going back to 1981, not sure what they had . . .

Anonymous said...

Great post Lane. Thanks for all the hard work this summer. Same for Lee.

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