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Turfgrass Diseases in India

I spent this week in India and saw active dollar spot, fairy ring, probable bermudagrass decline, and also this unidentified disease on a bermudagrass green at Kolkata.

I suspect this is pythium blight, due to the apparent streaks of disease moving downhill with the drainage pattern, and because of its occurrence on two greens that appeared to have saturated soil conditions. Upon consulting with the conductor of this website, the possibility that this may be a leaf spot disease was also raised. And as I consult my Compendium of Turfgrass Diseases, I see that the environmental conditions for pythium blight and leaf spot diseases of Cynodon overlap to a large extent.

Disease control is obviously more difficult in a country such as India where there is not easy access to diagnostic laboratories. A disease such as dollar spot, seen on a bermudagrass fairway above at Bangalore, is easy to diagnose and control. But pathogens such as bermudagrass decline or leaf spots can be more difficult to diagnose with precision.

Two other factors further complicate disease control at India. First, many of the greenkeepers do not have ready access to information about turfgrass diseases and their control, nor do all greenkeepers understand what type of cultural practices can optimize plant health and minimize disease problems. Second, the types of sprayers used on many golf courses can be difficult to use, somewhat difficult to calibrate, and inconsistent in both droplet size and spray volume.

A tractor-mounted sprayer with a hand-gun is a typical agricultural sprayer found at many golf courses in India.

And the type of manual spraying system with a foot-pump as shown below is not the fastest or most precise way to apply products to the course, but if this is the only sprayer available, then it must be used.

There is a lot of golf development happening now at India and plans are underway for more greenkeeper training. One expects that greenkeepers will soon have access to more information about turfgrass diseases along with the types of maintenance equipment necessary to optimize the growing conditions and control turfgrass diseases more effectively.

6 Things I Learned in 2010

This is more of a personal post about what I learned this year in terms of things that I would consider myself to be interested in. This includes photography, social media, insomnia, and let’s not forget turf diseases.

Social Media is Not the Future, It’s the Now
Although I have been using various social media resources for a few years now, I am still amazed at how many people still fight it as if it were going to go away. While there remains the issue of professionalism while using these social networks, it is clear that they are here to stay. If you don’t believe me, check out who Time Magazine named “Person of the Year 2010".
Sleep is Overrated 
For those of you who read the article in Golf Course Industry, you probably now know that I have issues sleeping. For the last 4 to 5 years I have generally gotten up and spent 3 hours or so learning new social media, video and photo editing, html, and other things that I wouldn't normally have time for during the day. For the last month, I have been able to sleep through the night with little problem. My conclusion? I would rather be up at night!

Completing a Project365 Isn't Easy

A Project365 is essentially a photo project that you do on your own to see if you can take 1 photo per day for an entire year. In 2010, I set out to complete this project as a way to better understand the settings and use of my camera. Well, the excitement quickly turned into a chore and I ended up failing after 263 days (continued from 2009). I plan on trying again beginning in 2011.

 You Can Never Prepare For Some Things
 No photo to share for this was just too ugly to post!

The last year was probably one of the most difficult on record for golf course superintendents in a LONG time. As turf pathologists, we like to think that we can help to prepare turf managers for the problems that may come during the summer. In my opinion, this year proved that sometimes you can prepare all you want, but that may not make much of a difference. This was particularly true for those growing bentgrass in the mid-Atlantic and hot and humid Southeast. I saw more dead turf this year than I can remember. Hopefully next summer will be better.

 I LOVE to Travel
Attendees to the International Turfgrass Society conference in France, 2010.

This year I had the opportunity to travel more than I had ever in the past. Presentations, Conferences, Trade Shows, etc. took me all around the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, South Africa, France and other places. Despite having some hiccups along the way (getting stuck in Paris due to the Volcanic Ash), it gave me the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends in the turfgrass business. Although the world is relatively large, the commonalities among turfgrass managers worldwide makes our group a small and personable one. 

"Turf Diseases" Changed The Way We Communicate

Although the Turf Disease Blog was launched in May of 2009, it wasn't until 2010 that it really took off. This site, comprised of 5 pathologists and a few other guests, was meant to be a way to share timely information for those in the golf course industry. What started out with humble ideas is slowly progressing into much more. Last year, we had over 100,000 page views and visits from people in more than 120 countries. We now have our own website ( and will continue to expand on the project in 2011. The last month has given me a lot of time to think of the direction that I want to go with the site and I think that over the next year we are going to roll out some nice additions that will make the information even more useful.

I can't thank everyone enough for all of the feedback (positive and negative) that we have gotten over the last year. The blog has caused me to reexamine many things in my research, teaching and education program and has given me many opportunities and new ideas for future work. I look forward to continuing the evolution of the site in the coming months and years. 

Enjoy the Holiday season and I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

We don't swim in your toilet, don't P in our pool. I mean, no P in our soil.

I have some quick news today, just passing along two links about recent fertilizer legislation in Michigan and New Jersey.

According to the articles linked below, golf courses in New Jersey are exempt. In Michigan, it appears that P is allowed if a soil test shows that it is needed, for golf, home lawns, farms, or other sites.

Any comments from those of you in those states? Or in states like Wisconsin or Minnesota where legislation has been on the books for awhile? It is not anything like the complex regulations John talked about for Ontario, but I'm curious how these things are affecting your operations or might in the future.

Michigan: For article click HERE
New Jersey: For article click HERE

Kansas Turf Conference


I'd like to send an official thank you to Lane, who came out to speak at our Kansas Turf Conference this week. Lane gave some excellent presentations there, then he came over to the university and gave a research/academic seminar over here in my department. Five presentations in 2 days didn't seem to faze him too much, though he did appear happy when beer time arrived last night. Well, beer time arrived each night, but I think on the final night it was best, with all the work finished.

So, thanks again Lane!

Our other out-of-state speakers were Chris Williamson (U of Wisconsin, entomology), Michael Dukes (Florida), and Dave Minner (Iowa State). If any of you guys are reading this blog... thanks! It was great to see you all, and our Kansas turf managers sure appreciated your time and energy.

Ontario IPM Accreditation Program

Last week I had the chance to speak at a educational seminar in Waterloo, Ontario that was hosted by Nutrite and the Ontario Seed Company (thanks for a great event by the way). The event was attended by approximately 300 golf course superintendents and assistants, many of which were there to learn about the issues they were facing/about to face with the "Ontario IPM Accreditation Program". On the agenda to speak about this was Brenda Nailor, Ph.D.  Dr. Nailor, a regulatory and pest management consultant for the green industry, was on hand to drop the bombshell that every superintendent was going to have to go through hell over the next several months update everyone on the current developments with the program.

Starting the program off, Dr. Nailor asked for everyone having to fill out the numerous forms (upwards of 120+ for some) to stand up so she could give them a "tip" on how to make things easier on them during the process.  "Move your one arm across your chest, while pulling with your other hand..." said Nailor as she led each of the form-filers through a series of excercises to stretch out because the superintendents would be "spending that much time in from of your computer." She then got serious and started relaying the updates from the MOE (Ministry of the Environment) and the Ontario IPM Accreditation Program. IPM Accreditation is mandatory for all golf courses by April 22, 2012.

 The program is "to recognize both individuals and golf courses that have demonstrated a knowledge and commitment to the principles of IPM through a process of certification, auditing and professional development." the program consists of 1) Certified IPM Agents and 2) IPM Registered Golf Courses and Facilities with a bunch of other nonsense mixed in. For the first component, "certified" agents basically have to take an exam, pay some fees, and continue to obtain CEC's as part of their education.  No big deal in my opinion other than the fact that these all come with added costs and annual fees. The big component comes in the reporting procedures and the fact that every golf course is going to have a public meeting where they must present in detail their "annual report" and their "map".

Below are the forms and procedures that must be completed:

  1. Desk Audit Checklist: Just a list to ensure that you have filled out all of the forms below...essentially a form for a series of forms.
  2. Scout Forms: Must be filled out once per week and includes environmental conditions, location, pest or condition, # of pests observed, possible contributing factors, and action taken.
  3. Product Application Forms: Basically a pesticide application form similar to what everyone usually fills out. Forms must include 2 reasons for fungicide use, calculation of the actual active ingredient used and follow-up observations 3 to 7 days after application.
  4. Equipment Calibration Form: One for backpack and one for a boom-sprayer must be completed and a minimum of 3 calibrations must be completed on each piece during the season (unless used less than three times during the season, in which case, you must calibrate once)
  5. Hot Spot Management Record: I'm not sure how this is different from the "Scout Forms", but superintendents must keep a "record of observations and actions taken to manage a problem area throughout the year and future management plans"
  6. Annual Report: A summary of the total of all pesticides AI used, expressed in kg ai. This must be public and posted in public and made available at the annual public meeting.
  7. Map: A detailed visual map of EVERY pesticide application made to all areas of the golf course summarized by total AI applied to each area (more on this below).
  8. Training Documentation: Documentation of all training completed for anyone applying pesticides or scouting for diseases.  It was pointed out at the meeting that no one really knows what constitutes training but I would believe that spending 20 minutes per day on this blog should suffice.
OK, so it seems harmless right? Just document what you are doing and you should be fine. All of the above materials must be submitted before January 31, 2011 and this whole system is littered with problems on a logistical front. First, all superintendents who were probably the overachievers and those tackling this head on and who downloaded all the forms prior to 10 May...well the Ontario IPM decided to change the forms and now ALL forms must be transcribed since they will not accept the older forms. This could come in the form of upwards to 120+ forms that need to be redone. Next, the creation of the "map" that must accompany the "Annual Report" will take a GIS and mapping expert to figure out. Dr. Nailor used an example of a map downloaded from Google Maps with color-coded sections for all areas treated. This is fine if you applied one thing to your greens all season, but there are going to need to be numerous maps that someone is going to have to create and label. On top of that, superintendents are encouraged to not submit a zillion maps, but I just don't see how to get around it. My hope is that someone comes up with a single map with ALL of their applications on it that is so complicated it will take a graphics expert to figure it out (image below). One superintendent in the audience admitted that he was "behind the times" with computers and wondered how he was going to complete these tasks only to receive the answer of "they have to be done". I consider myself a computer wiz and still would need hours and days, if not weeks, to complete all the information.
Example diagram that may be used to explain pesticide use on golf courses in Ontario?

The BIG problem with all of this is going to be the required "Public Hearing" which must occur for each club. This must be done before November 20, 2012 (and after January 31, 2011) and must be open to anyone who wants to come. Details of the meeting must be published in a newspaper 2 weeks prior to the meeting and all neighbors within some distance (I believe 200 meters of the course) must be notified individually (the newspaper will not suffice). At the meeting, the Annual Report and accompanying Map must be made available.

From my observations during her talk and from a brief visit to the program's website it is obvious that while the program seeks to reduce the use of pesticides on golf courses (and I am fine with that idea by the way), they have absolutely NO idea of the impact that this is going to have on golf as a business and probably NO understanding of what this will have on the environment as well. I would say that a strong majority of the superintendents have a solid IPM program in place. A mandatory program with this much paperwork (with little to no assistance) and a mandatory "town hall" style meeting is not going to cause changes based on science, but rather emotion. While I think that some of this reporting and documentation will be good, it is likely that the public display will result in more stringent restrictions based on emotion and likely put some Mom-and-Pop golf courses out of business. Dr. Nailor's suggestion to anyone considering using the Ontario IPM Accreditation as an example was to "Take your time when developing regulations and ask for phase-ins." If there was anything that I took out of this was that the superintendents were lucky to have someone like Brenda and the University of Guelph there to help with all of the complications that are bound to arise from this program.
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