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Lower temps may mean MORE turf diseases

This past week was busy for the turf pathologists around the country. I was very busy dealing with samples, our Research Field Day, and scathing emails regarding my post about bacterial wilt being BS and the Wall Street Journal Article.  I should definitely clarify (which I attempted to do in a comment to my original post) what I was talking about.  Here are a couple of comments that I received about these posts.

Email received about my post about the WSJ article:
"I recently read your blog titled “Melting turf and Turf Pathology meeting”.  And I was a little confused on some of your statements.  In the blog you stated your read the article in the Wall Street Journal.  Then you later state some diagnosis was BS.  Were your referring to something in the WSJ article was BS or was that an entirely different matter?  I am not questioning you, just trying to clarify what you meant because when I read your blog it came across you were saying the WSJ article was BS.  Which I hope wasn’t the case as that article has definitely helped me in my current situation."
I thought that the WSJ article was a great one and anytime the popular press covers an issue like turfgrass being hard to maintain due to the heat of the summer, I think that it is good for superintendents.  The issue related to BW was totally separate and had nothing to do with the WSJ article.  In my follow up to the email I also mentioned some errors in the article, but when I went back and read the article I realized I was talking about an article posted by Lane in a previous post where they called Pythium a bacteria.

Email received about my post of bacterial wilt being BS:
"Wow John, doesn’t sound to Scientific! Better start doing some research to make a real Diagnosis.  I was at APS also, you should have come by if you needed validation. [sentence omitted for privacy]
Explain the Etiolation please, sounds like Penn State might be rubbing off on you. Lane still can’t explain why healthy plugs die in three to five days. If he has to you please let me know. Heat and Humidity right???? Hope you aren’t teaching that."
So my response to this was probably a little harsher than it should have been and I realize that superintendents are under a lot of stress.  I also don't take anything personally and do my best to try to help any way I can...and yes, I love Penn State (this happened long before I took the job here though). However, this brought up a good point about the whole bacteria wilt issue.  I am not saying that a potential bacterial wilt problem doesn't exist, however, I feel that many diagnosticians and superintendents are using this as a go-to answer for problems that can't be explained. In many cases (generally about 35-50% of our samples annually), thinning and/or dead turf can not be attributed to a biological agent.  That doesn't mean that something can't be done, it just means that spraying a fungicide is not going to be the answer. In many cases, the issues are related to shade, poor air movement, poor drainage, etc. Addressing these issues often times fixes the declining turf problem. A problem with many diagnostic labs is that they know diseases and diseases only...finding a lab that knows something about turf and agronomics is important. Click here to see all the comments regarding diagnostic labs.

Dollar spot was raging this morning in State College, PA
On to the disease issues:
Temperatures are dropping around the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US, but this may actually bring more diseases than less.  At the turf plots this morning at Penn State, we had active mycelium on both dollar spot and brown patch, algae raging, anthracnose active, red thread in low fertility areas, and probably other things that I didn't have a chance to check out.  I also received an email while typing that a superintendent in the area may have a new outbreak of brown ring patch on their greens.  Temps in State College were relatively low this weekend, but RH was very high and things exploded last night.  I am sure that many of you are experiencing the same thing in your region.

Here is the 10-day forecast for some cities around the region:

Albany, NY: mid 70's to mid 80's
Boston: Low to mid 80's with temps dipping to 77oF on Thursday!
Philadelphia: ~90oF for the next two days then mid 80's
Pittsburgh, PA: 77-85 with nighttime temps in the mid 60's/low 70's
New York: Temps ranging from 80 to 91oF
Washington, D.C.: Fluctuating between mid 80's and 90oF

Finally, I am working on our Compendium Giveaway and should have something up by next week. The giveaway is being sponsored by Syngenta and will give a reader the opportunity to win a copy of the Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases.  Syngenta will also be donating $1000 to the Turf Pathology Student Travel Fund of the American Phytopathological Society.

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