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From thaw to freeze, and back again, then back AGAIN again!

I don't really have any turf or disease info today, just thought I'd share our interesting recent weather.

You might remember my last post about thawing out... but I also mentioned upcoming weather fluctuations. It is one of those times of year when anything can happen here in the mid-continent. Arctic masses from the north, warm Gulf air from the south. Our record lows can be below zero, and record highs near 80, or even higher.

The graph above (click on it to zoom) shows our ACTUAL daily highs and lows here in Manhattan KS. Yup, that lowest line shows a minimum of -2.8F on Feb 10, and a max of 71.8 a few days later.

On Sunday, I went for a comfortable walk in sandals, shorts, and t-shirt. Two hours later, I was out on another walk with some friends and their dog. The wind had shifted, and though I had put on a sweatshirt, I was soon freezing.

On Wednesday it was a balmy 60 degrees again. I had the windows down for part of my drive down to Newton, KS, for a turf-and-landscape meeting.

Then, Thursday... snow! 3-4 inches. Oh, and under the snow, some sleety-ice nastiness.

Oh, and I stumbled across an article co-written by John about the use of blogs in turf. Since John didn't post it (at least I didn't see it... maybe I missed it?) you can find it here:

Thawing out

Well, I'm finally running at about 80% speed after being knocked on my butt from a double-whammy of a cold AND food poisoning. My sweetie, Kris, had to deal with a very yucky Valentine this week. I'm hoping to be 90-100% back-to-normal tomorrow. On Tuesday, as the cold really came on strong, you could have graphed snot-production on an exponential curve...

Me and my Valentine of 10-years, on a less-snotty day!

The high yesterday and Wednesday was about 70, and virtually all the snow is gone except for giant piles in parking lots, and those are fading fast. I have not heard from anyone regarding pink snow mold/Microdochium patch but I suspect there may be some out there. The forecast for the next week is pretty crazy (see below). Microdochium patch doesn't need snow, just cool/wet temps, so keep your eyes out.

Another disease that frequently appears in this region around this time is yellow patch/cool-season brown patch. This disease usually goes away readily on its own as the temp warms up and grass gets growing. That all depends on weather. I have seen yellow patch symptoms into mid-April.

The above photo of yellow patch was from Feb 2008.

Freeze/Thaw and Drainage

The forecast calls for a few more days of warm temps, then showers, snow, and cold (lows in the teens). This type of weather can lead to a lot of cycles of freezing/thawing which can cause damage to turf.

There are a lot of reasons to address drainage problems. Freeze/thaw problems is one more to add to the list!


If you recall, 2-3 weeks ago I talked about a new web-distributed labeling system that the EPA was testing out. I pasted some info from a fruit newsletter that I receive. The comment talked about some correspondence among EPA, Greenbook, and CropLife America regarding the web distributed labeling. The correspondence was posted here:

The EPA's Mega-headache over the Endangered Species 'Mega-Lawsuit'

Tidewater Goby Photo by Zack Larson from the UC Davis California Fish Page

As some of you know, I've been spending a lot of time in the Washington D.C. area working as the American Phytopathological Society's Liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Pesticide Programs. The Weed Science Society and Entomological Society of America also have representatives working in the EPA in the same program where we've been working with their staff on EPA Pesticide Issues.

You may have heard that recently, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) filed suit against the EPA to protect over 200 endangered species from over 300 pesticide active ingredients in what is euphemistically being called the 'Mega-Lawsuit' in late January 2011.

(Includes a link to the actual lawsuit and chemicals/endangered species being considered)

(includes a map of endangered species considered in the lawsuit and justification by CBD and PAN)

Today, we had a chance to discuss some of these issues with EPA staff and I wanted to just give a brief overview of what's been going on with some of these recent lawsuits, and hopefully shed some light on them. (Apologies in advance if I screw something up by trying to simplify things, but...)

Since many golf courses interface with wildlife areas that could harbor endangered species, this lawsuit could have some significant repercussions for pesticide use by superintendents.

Recent actions such as the 'Goby 11' case in the San Francisco Bay Area illustrate the impact of such litigation, where 75 pesticides (including some commonly used ones on golf courses) cannot be used within 100 to 400 feet of areas known to harbor 11 northern California endangered species including the Tidewater Goby fish (thus the nick name of the 'Goby 11')

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 during the Nixon Administration, to protect the species in danger of extinction in the U.S. The EPA was established in 1970 (also by Nixon - who says Republicans aren't environmentalists?), and assumed responsibility for pesticide regulation from the USDA under the revised Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in 1972. So - under both ESA and FIFRA, the EPA was supposed to help register pesticides and be compliant with the protection of endangered species under the ESA.

Well, that's easier said than done.

Since 1973, the EPA has tried to mitigate doing its job of registering and regulating pesticides under FIFRA and being compliant with the ESA, but making these two federal acts work together has been....let's say, "complicated".

Given the demands for pesticides in the market, and protecting human and environmental health, the EPA had been pushing forward with pesticide regulation but simultaneously accused by environmental groups of not being compliant with the ESA by not fully considering the impact of pesticides on endangered species.

Everyone knows that federal agencies don't necessarily always move at lightning speed, but the EPA had long-term plans to address the ESA in the process of registering and re-evaluating pesticides. 'In 1988, EPA established the “Endangered Species Protection Program” or “ESPP” to try to address its pesticide program’s compliance with the ESA' with the first actions slated to take place in 2005.

However, a number of environmental groups basically said "hey, you're not moving fast enough on these" and have now forced the situation by suing the EPA for not adequately conferring consulting with the two federal services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) - who are actually in charge of directly administering the ESA - to take pesticide impacts on endangered species into account during the pesticide registration and re-evaluation process, and thus violated the ESA.

So...the recent actions by organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity basically cause the EPA to do a thorough review of pesticide use and their effect on these species, including biological and toxicological data. As you can imagine, these reviews are both time consuming and at times complicated, and if not enough data exists, the EPA often must take a "worst case scenario" stance (e.g. making the most conservative estimates for exposure and toxicological risks) until enough data is generated to make an evaluation. In the meantime, as the lawsuit is being argued (which could take years!) the pesticides in question may be restricted in their use until a informed evaluation can be made. If enough data exists to show a negative impact on the endangered species, the pesticides could face severe restriction or even cancellation.

With the most recent lawsuit by CBD and PAN, it forces the EPA to review over 300 pesticide (including ones we frequently use for weed, insect and disease control) impacts on about 200 endangered species. This boils down to a big Mega-headache for the EPA.

Are the environmental groups the bad guys? Well, they sort of have their hearts in the right place and I can understand where they are coming from.

Is the EPA the bad guys? Well, not really, but they have the unwholesome task of defending against the lawsuits and at the same time maintaining pesticide use regulations and availability; talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

However, with regard to our day to day operations, as the lawsuit proceeds, golf course superintendents could see severe limitations on pesticides they rely on because of our proximity to endangered species habitats. We as end users definitely need to be aware of what's brewing, why it's happening and where to find the information we need to help stay ahead of potential use restrictions.

These recent lawsuits are definite "game changers" when it comes to pesticide use in the U.S. and we may have to really invest in (i) researching new ways to apply pesticides and avoid non-target drift and exposure, (ii) developing 'greener' pesticides and (iii) implementing non-pesticidal controls for our disease, insect and weed issues.

More info on the EPAs Endangered Species Protection Program and updates on the lawsuits can be found here:

Hopefully we'll have some updates soon from GCSAA's Government Relations group and how we can get directly involved with some of these issues, but the best thing we can do right now is get some education on what's going on with this one and keep an eye on any new information that comes out about this lawsuit.

Again, apologies if I got anything wrong, but sometimes that's what happens when you let a plant pathologist try to act like a lawyer. :P

PS - I know I promised some updates on diseases of warm season turf, but with Phil Harmon sick like a dog after GCSAA, I thought I'd better wait a week or so before I try to get him to give us a guest column here. Both Phil and Megan are sick this week, so I hope not a lot of people came back with the flu from the GIS as well :(

Ok, until next week, signing off from the right coast.

To Spray or Not to Spray

It is really nice to experience a warm-up in Mid-February, but we know that it is a likely a cruel trick from mother nature. NBC 15 in Madison just said that Monday could yield 5 to 10 inches of snow, if all the expected precipitation is snow. Yet, today temperatures exceeded 40 degrees in Southern Wisconsin and is expected to exceed 50 degrees tomorrow! Its funny that I get excited about 50 degrees, when I was in North Carolina I considered that cold. As the warm-up continues, the snow will be melting and gray snow mold and Microdochium patch may show their ugly heads. If fungicides were applied last fall, then I would not expect too much damage. However some areas south of I-80 may not have made preventative applications. I know many down in Missouri, Arkansas, and maybe even Kansas did not make preventative applications. Based on the duration of snow cover in those areas, gray snow mold will most likely not be a problem. Microdochium patch however may be a problem.

The question arises, should I spray when the snow melts? To determine if an application is warranted there are two things to consider: 1) Is the fungus causing new infections? 2) Is the ground saturated? When the snow melts Microdochium patch symptoms maybe apparent and severe, but if environmental conditions are not conducive the pathogen will not continue to spread. Microdochium patch will continue to develop when temperatures remain below 68F with high humidity, intense cloud cover, or both. Symptoms immediately after snow melt usually have the "classic look" with a pink or orange tint. An image of these symptoms are at the upper right hand side of this post. If environmental conditions are conducive for Microdochium patch development in the absence of snow, symptoms will have a water-soaked appearance with center gradually turning a light brown. An image of those symptoms are below. If there are any questions about the activity of the fungus send a sample to a diagnostic lab.

Another factor to consider is how saturated the soil is. Applications of any material to saturated ground should be avoided entirely. Failing to do so could result in loss of the material to runoff. Another consideration is running equipment over saturated ground will likely do more damage than the fungus will.

If conditions become conducive for Microdochium patch development, there are fungicides that will halt its development. Fungicides with the active ingredients iprodione, vincozolin, thiophanate methyl, trifloxystrobin, azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, fludioxonil, and chlorothalonil are effective against Microdochium patch. Normally it is hard to beat the dicarboximides and thiophanate methyl for Microdochium patch control, but there are other options that maybe more relevant in your area. Chlorothalonil does not perform all that well by itself, but it is a good tank mix partner with any of these other products.

On another note, after receiving much ridicule from Dr. Kennelly and the Packer Nation that surrounds me about the tragic loss the Bears were handed by the Packers, I am looking forward to baseball Spring training. Like I say every year, as all Cubs fans do, this is the year to break the Billy Goat curse!

Practical Guide to Turfgrass Fungicides (new book)

The arrival of Dr. Latin's new fungicide book for the turfgrass industry has been highly anticipated and was basically unveiled at the Golf Industry Show last week. I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the book from the bookstore before copies ran out and even more fortunate to have Dr. Latin sign a copy (although I interrupted an interview he was having with a potential grad student to get it). As with any profession, continued education is a must and this is definitely one book that you want to have on your shelf. You can purchase your copy at the APS website. The book is currently on sale for $119.95 and although it's not cheap, someone has to support Dr. Latin's golf habit it is well worth the price.

Here is some information about the book from the American Phytopathological Society (the book's publisher):

  • Turf Fungicide Fundamentals
  • Modes of Action of Fungicides
  • Fungicide Resistance
  • Factors That Influence Fungicide Performance
  • Biofungicides, Phosphonates, and Post-Patent Products
  • Fungicide Interactions
  • Scheduling Fungicides for Turf Disease Control
  • Fungicide Regulation
  • Interpreting Fungicide Performance Research
  • Turf Disease Characteristics and Control
  • Turf Fungicide Profiles
  • Index
Delivers Proven Strategies for Turf Fungicide Management
  • Provides turf managers with a sound foundation and understanding of how and why fungicides work by explaining how they move within the plant (phytomobility) and how they stop fungal growth (mode of action)
  • Explains how to integrate disease-control chemicals with essential management practices and shows how a variety of plant, pathogen, and environmental factors can influence fungicide performance.
  • Describes different approaches to scheduling fungicide applications—based on damage thresholds, days between sprays, and environmental conditions—explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and enabling development of effective strategies and tactics for disease control.
  • Supplies a single source for accurate, current descriptions and control recommendations for more than two dozen damaging turf diseases caused by fungi.
  • Separates anecdotal fungicide selection information from valid research results and explains how to interpret research reports using examples describing the effectiveness of fungicide products.
To the right is my copy signed by the Great Doctor!

    Orlando: My week-in-review

    We’ll get to this at the end of the post…


    First, thanks everyone for the nice comments on my upcoming promotion and tenure. Thanks, also, to my turf colleagues including the guys on the blog. It's been great working with all of you, and I look forward to many turf-y years to come!

    Like my blog colleagues, I spent this week in Orlando, FL, at the Golf Industry Show (GIS)/ Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) national educational conference.


    What is this conference all about?


    There were educational conferences all day Monday and Tuesday. The trade show was Wednesday and Thursday. There is another round of educational seminars today. For example, my KSU colleague Jack Fry is teaching his class (Advanced Stress Management Strategies for Cool-Season Turfgrasses) with Bingru Huang from Rutgers, today.


    *Monday: Seminar on warm-season turf diseases*


    On Monday, I co-taught a day-long seminar about diseases of C4 turf. I was going to describe it, but Frank already summarized it yesterday (yay, less typing for me) and you can check that out.

    As Frank notes, the seminar went well. Even with two c0-instructors, though, I was pretty tired by the end. It is hard to teach for 8 hours! Our participants were great--very interactive with some insightful comments and questions.



    *Tuesday: the Microscope Class*


    On Tuesday I helped out with the day-long class, Microscopic Identification of Turfgrass Pathogens. The leaders on this are Henry Wetzel and Alan Windham. They organize and lead the class each year. Phil Harmon from U of Florida provided most of the cultures and specimens. Then, each year, other plant pathologists (like me) help out with all the hands-on work, assisting the participants as they examine turf pathogens in culture and in plant tissue. We are the TA’s, essentially.

    By afternoon, some of the participants were so into it, they skipped the afternoon coffee break to keep hunting for Pythium spores!

    I always enjoy helping with the class. All the one-to-one hands-on work gives the instructors a chance to get to know the participants and to talk about our favorite thing: Turf diseases!

    Thanks to Syngenta for providing funding for microscope rental , and Bobby Martin, Martin Microscopes, for setting up and helping with the scopes.

    *Wednesday: Manatees, and Trade Show, and KSU friends-and-alumni*

    I had a little spare time on Wednesday morning so went to see some manatees at Blue Springs State Park with Frank. Then, in the afternoon, I walked around the trade show and met with some of my industry colleagues to discuss potential collaborations. I also ran into some of the KSU students as they toured the Toro booth. Unfortunately it did not occur to me to take any photos of that, but they were all there, looking professional and asking questions, representing KSU nicely. I swung past the KSU student booth, too, but did not think to take a photo. It looked good, though!

    Here's one image from the trade show: my super-duper colleagues Larry Stowell and Wendy Gelerntner from PACE talking about the top 10 tools for turf at Answers-on-the-Hour.

    Manatees: The photos do not do them justice: Some of them are ~10 feet long and 1000-1200 pounds. All they do is float around and eat plants, coming up to breathe every 15 minutes or so. They are an endangered species, and this natural spring area is a reserve for them.



    Drs. Kennelly and Wong take a break from the conference to see the 'tees

    At the KSU alumni social and the Heart of America social I had a chance to catch up with some of the regional guys.


    .*Sunday night – SUPERBOWL*

    Well, continuing with my week at the GIS, I will rewind back to Sunday to mention the Superbowl. I arrived in Orlando on Sunday, and that night I watched the PACKER VICTORY at the hotel. KSU alum Jordy Nelson did a great job.

    You can see my Packer video (recorded by John) and Lane's response if you scroll back a few posts :)



    Congratulations Professor Kennelly!

    Guess Who Made Tenure?

    Dr. Kennelly enjoying some Manatee-time in Florida this week.

    Overall Megan's had a great week. First of all, her Packers pulled of a Superbowl victory last Sunday, followed by a great week at the GCSAA meetings, and then when she arrived back home in Kansas on Thursday, Megan received notice from the University that she's made Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor!

    It's a heck of an accomplishment for Megan especially since she achieved this only after 4 1/2 years at K-State (5 - 7 years is normal).

    Job well done Megan! Please join us in congratulating Megan on this huge milestone for her career.

    Top Five Diseases of Warm Season Turf at the 2011 GCSAA Education Conference

    What's the Biggest Problem for Warm Season Turf?

    Dr. Phil talkin' about Diseases on Monday

    Last Monday, Phil Harmon, Megan and I got to teach the Management of Diseases of Warm Season Turfgrasses here in Orlando.

    It was out third time doing it together and I think each time we’re getting better. I think Bruce Martin from Clemson has stopped checking up on us to make sure that we’re doing the class right, which is good, but we sure do miss the opportunity to put Bruce on the spot! Bruce taught the class previously for >10 years at GCSAA, and it took three of us to replace one of him!

    This year we had about 45 students with Florida heavily represented in the group. We had some visitors from Central America and as far away as Australia, but most of the guys came to talk about bermudagrass and bermudagrass diseases in the southeastern U.S.

    A survey taken during the class showed the disease issues that superintendents are most concerned with for warm season turf (by # of mentions):
    1. Fairy Ring (22)
    2. Rhizoctonia zeae aka mini-ring (18)
    3. Large Patch (15)
    4. Gaeumannomyces Decline (11)
    5. Bipolaris Leaf Spot/Melting out (7)


    We’ll follow up in the next few weeks on these diseases and what’s the best management strategies for each of them.

    Until next week, signing off from the right coast....

    Dollar Spot Expedition to Southeast Asia

    Route through SE Asia
    Dalat Palace Golf Club
    Last week, I travelled throughout Southeast Asia with Dr. Micah Woods, international blogger and Director of the Asian Turfgrass Center, and Mr. Matee Suntisawasdi, Marketing Director for Procrop T&O. We went on an Indiana Jones-style expedition that included four countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Philippines) and over 50 hours in the air. We found dollar spot in every country and collected isolates from many different grasses, including creeping bentgrass, velvet bentgrass, bermudagrass, seashore paspalum, zoysiagrass, and carpetgrass, just to name a few.

    I want to thank everyone that made this trip possible by hosting us at their facilities. I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Dr. Woods, Mr. Matee, and Dr. Beth Baikan, who did the vast majority of the planning. The samples we collected will undoubtedly teach us a lot about this important turf pathogen.

    Some highlights of the trip included:

    Roger Jones making sand at Twin Doves
    Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand. This university is forming a team of scientists to work on turf. We met with agronomists, plant pathologists, and nematologists that are interested in turf, discussed some potential collaborative projects, and toured their brand new lab facilities.

    Dalat Palace Golf Club, Dalat, Vietnam. A resort course and luxury hotel in the mountain town of Dalat with ‘SR1020’ creeping bentgrass greens. But the highlight of the day was when the assistant general manager, Mr. Ahn, took us out for goat prepared 5 different ways and a case or two of Heinekin beer.

    Mount Kinabalu Golf Club
    Twin Doves Golf Club, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A brand new golf course on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City planted wall-to-wall with ‘Platinum’ seashore paspalum. Roger Jones, the Director of Grounds, showed us the procedure he developed to produce sand that meets USGA specs from a local river sand.

    Camp John Hay Golf Club
    Mount Kinabalu Golf Club, Malaysia. Dr. Baikan, a fellow Rutgers graduate and environmental scientist in Malaysia, greeted us at the airport and accompanied us to this location tucked in the side of Mount Kinabalu at 5,000 ft above sea level. The course only gets 900 rounds a year due to nearly constant rainfall. The cool, wet, misty climate was perfect for dollar spot and we saw the disease on nearly every grass species on the property!

    Camp John Hay Golf Club, Philippines. Originally built as a resort the US military, this course was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1998 and is now a popular tourist destination. Because they were restricted in the number of trees that they were allowed to remove during construction, they constantly struggle with shade problems. It was interesting to see their experiments with different grasses and management strategies to overcome this hurdle.

    Manila Golf Club
    Manila Golf Club, Philippines. This immaculate seashore paspalum golf course is an oasis in the middle of the booming metropolis of Manila.

    Manila American Cemetery, Philippines. Right next door to Manila Golf Club, this is the final resting place for over 17,000 American soldiers that were killed in the Pacific Theater during World War II. We were lucky enough to get a personal tour from the facility manager, Bert Caloud, who is an encyclopedia of World War II history. I really admire the work that they do there to honor the memory of those who gave their lives for this country.

    Manila American Cemetery
    Khao Yai, Thailand. On the last day of the trip, we took some time to relax, go on an elephant ride, and get ready for Super Bowl XLV!
    Khao Yai

    Some Whine with my Cheese

    I said all along that Super Bowl XLV was the Steelers' game to lose. And that they did. You can't turn the ball over three times, without getting any in return, and expect to win against a good team.

    But I must confess that I am mostly responsible for the game's outcome. Every time I place a friendly wager on the Steelers, they lose. Please accept my sincere apology, Steelers Nation, it will never happen again.

    Megan and I agreed that if the Packers won, I would post a picture of myself wearing a cheesehead hat. I scoured the Raleigh area and couldn't find one, but we had this wedge of Dutch Gouda in the fridge so I figured that was just as good.

    I have the utmost respect for the Green Bay Packers. It's a working-man's team from a working-man's town, much like the Steelers. Their head coach is a Pittsburgh guy, and I'm also a fan of Kevin Greene, Darren Perry, and Dom Capers.

    But, seriously, is there a more ridiculous symbol of team fanaticism than wearing a foam block of cheese on your head? Vince Lombardi has to be rolling in his grave.

    And before you start to make fun of the Terrible Towel, remember that it has many practical uses. People also forget that the proceeds of its sale benefit charity. It's seriously not cool to make fun of something that benefits disabled children.

    For those who may say that I'm just jealous or bitter because the Steelers lost, you are absolutely right!

    Megan's reponse to the superbowl win.

    For those of you who wondered what happens behinds the scene with the turf disease bloggers, here is a little insight into our mind. Megan clearly has an opinion on the outcome of the superbowl between the Steelers and the Packers.

    Cold, and test-drive a new concept in pesticide labels


    In honor of the arctic blast, here is another perspective on cold damage, from U of Arkansas:

    It's a 4-part series of websites discussing different aspects of winter damage in turf.

    *Phytotoxicity and pesticide labels*

    Like most of you, I have experienced the "fun" of reading pesticide labels. But, it is important for many reasons. Here's an article that reminds us of ONE particular reason why it is important:

    This article talks about phytotoxicity (chemical damage) in ornamentals, but I've seen plenty of warnings on turf products as well ("do not use this product on species X or doom will follow...")

    *Speaking of labels*

    I came across some label news through a fruit listserv that I am on. The EPA is considering some changes to labels. In particular, they are considering changing to a web-based format where you can create a specific label that is tailored to the sites and plant species that you manage.

    For example you can type in your state, a product, your type of site (golf course, for example), targeted pest (select from pull-down list), etc, and then a customized label comes up. The test-drive link is below

    Here's the info (from Iowa Grape News)

    "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may soon be implementing a new streamlined web label distributing system that will eliminate the hardcopy label on the container. The EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is exploring a new initiative called “Web Distributed Labeling” (WDL) that would make the most current version of pesticide labeling available to users via the Internet or phone. The EPA OPP announced its intent to put a WDL “User Acceptance Pilot” in the Federal Register on 8-18-10. The EPA OPP is asking pesticide applicators to participate in this pilot program and then tell EPA what they think of of the WDL using short survey via Survey Monkey.

    This is a GREAT idea! This streamlined web distributed labeling system has a huge potential to increase the efficacy of our pesticide labeling and application technology resources that could become available at our fingertips in the field. I HIGHLY recommend you go to the WDL pilot site, view some streamlined labels and then take the short Online anonymous survey. You start out by taking a test drive here:

    EPA will use the survey results to decide whether or not to move forward with web-distributed labeling."

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