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Dude, where's my summer?


Downright Pleasant in California
Growing up in the Central Valley of California, I remember those long Fresno summers of 20-30+ 100-degree days where even the normally pasty-white, redheaded kids of Irish descent were sporting tans that made George Hamilton look like a albino naked mole rat, and the Channel 26 TV reporters were regularly frying eggs on the sidewalk outside of the Fashion Fair Mall.

Well, this ain't one of those summers in California. Aside from some short heat spells, it's been pretty damn mild, with temps being in the 70's on the coasts, 90's inland and only hitting triple digits in places like Fresno and Palm Springs this week.

Having spent the last week at the APS meetings in Charlotte in the company of all of the U.S. turf pathologists, it was nice to avoid being in the middle of discussions about heat-killed turfgrass and the hot potato talk of bacterial wilt.

On the other hand, we're seeing some weird disease patterns emerging from our diagnostic lab. The last two weeks have brought in diagnoses like anthracnose on creeping bentgrass (samples from Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento counties) and Curvularia blight on bermudagrass from Arizona. The presence of both diseases are likely attributed to some kind of 'stress' (irrigation, compaction, low fertility, etc.) as both anthracnose and Curvularia are typically very weak pathogens on these turf species.

We're also getting some rapid blight samples from southern and central coast locations. I am guessing that the cooler than normal temperatures (70-85F is optimal for rapid blight), fog or overcast conditions are helping that disease fire. We were surprising very low for rapid blight diagnoses this Spring, but the current Spring-like conditions in these areas has just pushed the calendar back a few months for courses at these locations.

It could very well be one of the best years in recent memory for growing grass in California; and guess where I am --- 3,000 miles away in Washington DC this summer!

Steamed & Drowned on the East Coast
While my friends back home are enjoying the mild summer, I'm alternately being steamed and drowned here in Alexandria, VA. Like much of the south and midwest (see Lane, Jim, Megan and John's recent blogs), the DC area has been gripped by prolonged heat broken by violent thunderstorms. Just last Thursday, I and about 60,000 other residents in the DC area lost power after heavy rain and winds ripped through the area. It happened again today - check out the story here:

Check out the link on the Turf Disease Facebook Page here: http://www.facebook.com/turfdiseases

Somehow, that southern California smog may not be all that bad to deal with.....

News from the APS Meetings: Fungicides (or Lack Thereof)
As the rest of the boys (plus Dr. K) were saying, we've been at the APS meetings all week - well, except for Lane who was answering frantic calls from superintendents and going back and forth from site visits to the meeting almost every day (the man had a microscope in his hotel room to look at disease samples - that's dedication for you!).

One thing that struck me was the lack of new fungicide active ingredients being discussed that are effective for turfgrass disease control. There was a good amount of buzz over, ametoctradin, a new BASF oomycete-fungicide for downy mildew and Phytophthora control, but sadly this one isn't effective vs the Pythiums that we deal with on turf. I hope we see some new fungicides for turf soon - we could use them!

There were also a good number of SDHI-resistance talks, but mainly on Botrytis, not turf diseases. SDHI's are the succinate-dehydrogense inhibitors, that include boscalid (Emerald) and flutolanil (ProStar). I have a hunch that we'll eventually see more broad-spectrum SDHIs for turf diseases in the future, but we'll have to keep waiting for the time being. The good news about this research is that we're going to able to use their Botrytis information to detect and help deal with SDHI-resistance for turfgrass diseases when it happens.

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



3 Responses to “Dude, where's my summer?”

Frank Wong said...

OK - I may have spoke too soon!

It's expected to heat up on West Coast this weekend, but the weather forecasts on the weather.com and other resources are still a bit fuzzy on this one.

Here's what they are saying in Seattle:
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/100585104.html

and in LA:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/08/heat-wave-expected-to-hit-la-beginning-this-weekend.html

Don't get lulled into a false sense of security for this weekend if the heat wave comes later today. It'd be a nice set up for anthracnose on greens with the sudden shifts in environmental conditions.

Communicate this with your weekend crew to avoid any nasty Monday morning surprises!

John Kaminski said...

Frank,

The weather changes are worse than that of a bipolar person. We had our field day at Penn State on Wednesday and it was hot, humid and about 93 degrees. Today while I was rating my plots it was overcast and mid 60's (high today predicted to be 70). On top of all of that, brown patch was active this morning...go figure.

Kaminski

Leah A. Brilman said...

Yes Frank,

We are scheduled to head up to 98 this weekend in the PNW. The other time it did that this summer = a lot of dead grass. It is not hardened off and wham the heat hits. We actually need it to finish bringing in the ryegrass crop.

I remember the egg frying demos also. I have been in DC in August. I will take the Central Valley and Arizona (been both places).

Leah

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