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Recap of 2010-2011 Snow Mold Trials

It seems funny to talk about snow mold on April 26th, but thanks to mother nature there isn't much else to talk about in the Midwest. We have experienced a very cool, wet spring so far this year. Just last week northern areas of Wisconsin received 7 to 9 inches of snow! We were very lucky that the dates we picked for our snow mold field days were nice, well at least the weather was nice at two of the locations. We have five locations for our snow mold trials: Brainerd, MN, Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul, MN, Grant Park Golf Course in Milwaukee, WI, Sentryworld Golf Course in Stevens Point, WI and Wawonowin Golf Club in Champion, MI. We travel to these different locations in order to test fungicides against as many snow mold pathogens as possible.

For this post I thought I would summarize the a portion of the results from Sentryworld. The picture at the upper right hand portion of this post was taken by Dr. Derek Settle at the CDGA and shows the level of disease at this trial. Although the non-treated controls averaged 74%, this is misleading because a single control somehow escaped with only 22% disease. The primary pathogen observed at this location was Typhula ishikariensis. Once again we observed that mixtures of fungicides that incorporate multiple modes of action worked very well. The graph below depicts a sample of results from this trial. There were 90 entries and the remaining treatments as well as the other sites can be accessed through our webpage soon. Mixtures with Torque (tebuconazole) worked very well, especially a mixture of Torque and Affirm (polyoxin-D). An interesting new fungicide is Velista, which is a carboximide fungicide (other members of this family are Prostar and Emerald). It does have activity against snow mold fungicides on its own, but not enough to provide acceptable control. When Velista was mixed with a DMI (in the figure Banner MAXX is presented) and chlorothalonil, these mixtures performed well.

Instrata at 9.3 oz performed well in our trials as it has for many years. Concert provided significant reductions in snow mold even when applied by itself at the 8.5 fl oz rate. This year we had a number of Civitas mixtures in our trials and they performed well. The product applied alone will not control snow mold, but when applied as a tank mix component results were quite good. Finally, Interface continued to show good efficacy against snow molds. Interface by itself did reduce snow mold severity, but not to a level that we consider acceptable (<5%). Yet, adding Daconil dropped snow mold severity to acceptable levels.

Now that the season is finally getting going, I will start posting once a week again. We have initiated a number of very interesting research projects that I will post about this year as well as updates on what we see in the TDL, so stay tuned!

Crown hydration, Poa seedheads, and other headaches

Here we are only a few days away from May and we are dealing with all sorts of problems in the Northeast. I just got off the phone with a superintendent in Connecticut who is dealing with some dead grass due to the crazy weather we have had. In his case, a late season freeze following some heavy rains resulted in some serious crown hydration problems. Although I don't have any photos to share (not that he would want them out there), the solution that we both agreed on was a good pummeling. His greens are nearly 100% Poa and we decided that disturbing the soil as much as possible to create a seedbed (there is probably millions of seed in his seedbank) is the best bet to get green turf as soon as possible. We are fortunate that it looks like decent temperatures for growing grass should be here for a while (unless all of the sudden it goes right to summer).

Within the last few weeks, we were also able to rate our snow mold trials. Rather than go into too much detail about this, I have posted our final report and a pdf of the individual treatment images in my dropbox file (link) . Feel free to download them, but they won't be up there forever. Instead the report will be moved to the Penn State site once we can get it uploaded. Other than recovery from the typical winter problems, I have already started hearing rumblings about the following diseases being active: anthracnose, brown ring patch, fairy ring, yellow patch (aka., cool temperature brown patch), microdochium patch, and probably others that I forgot to mention.

What most people have on their mind right now is 1) the success of the Poa seedhead programs and 2) the start if they haven't already started of the early season dollar spot treatments. Due to weather problems, we didn't get our early season trials out until yesterday, but our seedhead trials (applied at various timings between 200 and 500 GDD) have all gone out already. We are just now starting to see some seedheads, but ratings probably won't tell us much until this week or next. If you have any thoughts or input on what you are seeing or how your Poa seedhead treatments worked out for you, please pass them along in the comments or on the Turf Diseases Facebook Page.

Finally, if you were wondering about my South Africa post, I just got my computer back last week and haven't had a chance to upload my pics. I hope to get to them this week so the post can hit this weekend. Good thing that Dr. Woods gave us a great International Disease Post last weekend.

A Cornucopia of Disease in Southeast Asia

I sometimes find such healthy grass that I have little disease to write about, but this week was an exceptional one. I went from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok, Singapore, and Da Nang, seeing a number of grasses and on them an assortment of pathogens. Click the thumbnails for a full-size image and description.

rhizoctonia on bermudagrass slime mold paspalum dollar spot on seashore paspalum seashore paspalum unknown pathogen bermudagrass white leaf

If there were an award for diseases, seashore paspalum would win this week, with two different unidentified diseases and slime mold and dollar spot, with a bonus for some extraordinary drought stress. In the image below, there is an unidentified patch disease and dollar spot on a seashore paspalum fairway in Bangkok. And you can see the drought stress in the drain lines going to the catch basin in the background. But wait! Can you see the patch of Zoysia matrella in the center-left of the photo? The Zoysia matrella that is free of disease and doesn't have the drought stress of the paspalum even though it is growing in the drain line? Seashore paspalum does not grow well at all in Southeast Asia in areas of low soil moisture content.

paspalum and zoysia on a fairway in Thailand

Seashore paspalum grows wild in tidal swamps and in intertidal zones. Which is exactly where I found it growing on the beach at Da Nang (below), in its natural environment, and free of diseases. But come in from the beach a short distance, where the high tide does not reach, and I found wiry Zoysia matrella growing in the dunes.

seashore paspalum on the seashore

There was brown patch on bermudagrass at Vietnam and bermudagrass white leaf, which I think is the most unsightly disease, on bermudagrass at Singapore and Vietnam.

Most of the diseases, you notice, were on seashore paspalum and bermudagrass. I saw two types of broadleaf carpetgrass this week, both free of any disease. This grass thrives in the umbrageous conditions so ubiquitous in tropical Southeast Asia, as does zoysiagrass.

And for those more interested in cool-season grasses, you probably read with some interest the post from Dr. Kerns and Dr. Soldat a few weeks ago about managing potassium on cool-season turf. I'm fascinated by the Park Grass experiment and its results showing that potassium and lime application cause a proliferation of dandelions and other weeds, and the most recent issue of the Green Section Record has an article with some insights into that experiment and how the results "carry lessons of high importance in the growing of golf turf."

First app of 2011

First spray of the year

On Monday I drove to one of our zoysia large patch study areas at a golf course about 90 minutes away. I had been kind of dreading it. I just have NOT been feeling ready for the field season.

But, it was a beautiful day and I realized that I'm pretty lucky that my job allows me to work outside (even though some of those days can get pretty long). The superintendent, assistant superintendent, and staff at this course have been fantastic trial hosts over the past few years.

The large patch was not "hot" yet, but near the study area there was a "shadow" of a patch that was there before (last year), and will probably become active again soon, maybe after this week's rains.

This is a small trial with 6 treatments and an untreated control, and I can share results later.

"Shadow patch"

Active patches like this, with orangey margins, should be coming soon:

"Landscape, with Tidy Cats Bucket and Truck" (my artwork for the day)

Bermudagrass is continuing to green
up, too.

Here's our KSU football practice field (bermudagrass) on April 6:

April 16:

I would have taken another today, but it was pretty gloomy and rainy.

Fertility Legislation

I came across an article about fertilizer legislation in Virginia, New Jersey, and Washington:
Any comments from folks in those areas?

Feeling kinda lame

The turf front has still been pretty quiet around here. If you've checked out our Facebook page ( you saw a recent photo from Mike Richardson, not too far away at U of Arkansas showing some spring dead spot, and I suspect there will be SDS symptoms cropping up soon in areas a little farther north as we move through the next days and weeks.

Since turf is quiet, I thought I'd share some info on another landscape disease, one of my faves, cedar apple rust and it's cousins. I thought all the orange goo was cool... until I saw Frank's fun iPhone movie. Now, I just feel lame :)

But if you cope with these rusts in your landscape plantings you can get some info HERE

Waitea Patch trials give me the Hives

Let's try something different this week!

Shot on an iPhone4 and edited with iMovie.

Plenty of snow mold in the Northeast

View of St. Francis Links and St. Francis Bay in South Africa
Things have been very hectic around here so I have not had much of a chance to post anything in a while. Following a week long trip to South Africa (more on this next weekend), I fired up the old (actually it is only a few months old) computer to have it completely crash on me. That was about 10 days ago and I have yet to get it back. Shouldn't there be some sort of insurance on these things for lost work time. If I were running a business and relying on a single computer (luckily I have a backup) then I would be totally screwed.

Gray snow mold pressure in 2011 fungicide trials
Anyway, since coming back I have been busy putting research protocols together and also wrapping up research studies from last year. In particular, I was able to drive up to Yahnundasis Golf Club located near Utica, NY to rate my snow mold trials from last fall. Depending on your perspective this was a great year for snow mold and disease pressure was upwards of 80% in select plots. Our data is kind of perplexing as PCNB didn't really do all that much. While some plots didn't look all that good, several treatments resulted in excellent control with some even providing 100% control. This report should be up on the Penn State website relatively soon (relative in academia means by June).

Most of us are now in recovery from any problems, but I have seen several courses this year that are greening up pretty nicely and look great. It's already turning into a strange year. We have had unseasonably cold weather with individual days of extremely warm temps. Today in State College, the weather is about 75F while tomorrow is going to peak at 51F. Despite this fluctuation, our GDD at Penn State hit 289 yesterday and probably picked up several more today. Therefore at least according to the GDD we are right in the early stages of Poa seedhead control. We have a study at the Penn State Golf Course now looking at GDD timings for various products and a new experimental product. Hopefully we can get a better handle on what works in terms of timing for our region. For some reason, the GDD timing used in Michigan as part of Ron Calhoun's program doesn't seem to work well least we haven't been able to dial it in. I hope to continue to put out these trials to figure out the best timing and products for our region...any feedback that you can provide regarding what works for you would be great!  If you want to learn more about Ron's GDD Tracker site, I encourage you to visit it at It is a great site and a valuable resource for those in his region.

Rounds4Research Beginning to Pay Big Dividends

Visit to find out more!
Due to the slumping economy, state governments across the country are struggling to meet huge budget deficits. This almost always means significant budget cuts at land grant universities that do turfgrass research. Some have been cut worse than others, but we're all feeling it in one way or another.

Most people don't realize that we receive little to no resources from our universities to run our programs. You want to hire a technician? Fine, come up with cash and then maybe HR can make it happen. Need to drive across the state to give a talk? You can go wherever you want if you can pay the gas bill. You want a cell phone? Sure, if you have the money you can do that too.

That's why the financial support that we get from the turf industry is so important. Without it, we can't do a thing. This is also why the recent decline in research funding from national organizations like the USGA and GCSAA is so troubling.

Many of the southeast's best golf courses participate in R4R
For as long as I can remember, people in the turf industry have been asking "How do we get the golfing public to support turfgrass research?" Several years ago, Tim Krieger of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association initiated Rounds4Research to do just that. Golf courses and resorts can donate rounds of golf or vacation packages to be auctioned off to the general public, with the proceeds going to support turfgrass research in the participating states. The Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia are participating in 2011.

Last fall, the Carolinas GCSA funded 4 research projects at Clemson and NC State for a total of $94,225. The funded projects aim to address major issues like water conservation, nutrient fate, doveweed management, and perhaps most importantly, nematode control. Bruce Martin and I are collaborating on the nematode project, which I will write more about in the coming weeks.

If you have problems with nematodes, or just want to support turfgrass research in the Carolinas, Georgia, or Virginia, then it's not too late to participate in the 2011 Rounds4Research auction. Donations of rounds and golf packages are being accepted until April 4, and the online auction will run from April 10 to 17. All of the details can be found at Please help by encouraging your facility to donate, and also by spreading the word to golfers at your club about this rare opportunity to play golf at some of the nations top golf courses!
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