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In the Field (2007)

Current "In The Field" Updates

October 5 , 2007
Dry! Dry! DRY! This pretty much sums up the current field conditions throughout the state of Connecticut and in much of the surrounding regions. To compound the problem, the temperatures have been more consistent with summer than fall. Temperatures over the next few days will be in the mid 80's throughout the region. So far, this is causing more problems than diseases.

Having said that, dollar spot appears to be the number one problem. A recent trip to the Cape revealed severe and active dollar spot on nearly all of the 20+ courses visited. A benefit of this was the ability to collect additional samples for our New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation grant which seeks to identify the scope of fungicide resistance in the Northeast. It is not too late to send samples for this study. Contact me for more information (john.kaminski@uconn.edu).

Although it seems late in the season, summer patch remains active on several courses and anthracnose is starting to build up again as we move into the fall. Although we are getting to the end of the season and budgets may be limiting, don't base your pesticide decisions on the calendar. The warm weather is going to make for an extended disease season and with the increased chance of showers in the coming days, the potential for disease activity is high.

September 22 , 2007
Gray leaf spot was found on a Massachusetts golf course this week. I would assume that it has been reported by other labs within the region prior to this week, but this is the first case of the disease in New England that I am aware of this year.

September 20, 2007
Prior to the brief rain showers many received in the last couple of weeks, the number of disease-related problems were small. Pathogen activity again seems to be on the rise in recent weeks and based on a number of site visits and samples received by the diagnostic lab we are seeing the following:

Dollar spot continues to increase and many courses are seeing considerable levels. This is generally not a major area of concern because control measures are usually effective. As dollar spot continues to build, remember to contribute your samples to our research which aims to determine fungicide sensitivity in the Northeast. A variety of other diseases are being found throughout the region including Rhizoctonia zeae, necrotic ring spot, and an unusual Pythium species is also causing problems for some courses in the Southwestern portion of CT and NY. Keep an eye on these diseases since they are all very uncommon and easily misdiagnosed.

Other than these problems, many superintendents are in the middle of aeration and fall fertilization. The major problems of summer are almost gone and it will soon be the time to look back at your year to see what the major problems were at your course and what controls appeared to be most effective.

August 6 , 2007
After a relatively easy summer so far, the last two weeks have shown many turfgrass managers why this is such a stressful profession. A number of turfgrass disease samples were brought into the diagnostic lab in the past few days. In almost every case, the problem appears to be less related to disease issues (although Pythium may be present) and more an indication of the poor growing conditions on individual greens. The general thinning experienced throughout the region is almost always prevalent on push-up putting greens grown in areas with poor morning sunlight and limited air movement. To exacerbate the problem, drainage is limited to old aerification holes filled with sand, but no internal drainage. As you can imagine, this combination is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, although poor growing conditions are the obvious cause of the problem, golf course superintendents are given little help in correcting the underlying problems. Thus, the problems will continue to be seen in subsequent years. Below are a few things that will likely assist in improving the overall health of putting greens grown in a poor growing environment.

The most obvious solution is to improve the growing environment by improving air movement and sunlight penetration. This is often accomplished by selectively removing problematic trees and underbrush surrounding pocketed greens. While this is often the most controversial solution, it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve chronic problems with pocketed putting greens. In addition to tree removal, the addition of portable fans can drastically improve air circulation. It is important to note that these fans need to be as large and as close to the putting surface as possible. Although seen as a distraction by some golfers, the ability to putt on healthy greens usually wins out when compared to putting on dirt. Finally, another factor is the poor drainage on putting greens. In a recent Tee to Green article, I mentioned some of the problems associated with push-up greens in the Northeast. Although topdressing has resulted in a buildup of sand and improved infiltration, the lack of internal drainage leaves the water at the soil-sand interface and limits its movement from the putting green. Various companies now offer a quick solution to the problem by installing internal drainage in older greens with little to no disruption to the putting surface. Taking action this year by removing problematic trees, improving air circulation and installing internal drainage should quickly result in a more durable and healthier putting surface.

July 20, 2007
A cornucopia of diseases are being found in the field right now. This includes bacterial wilt, Pythium blight, summer patch, brown patch, anthracnose, dollar spot and others. Another malady of perennial ryegrass and in some cases creeping bentgrass has been the presence of etiolated plants. The problem, commonly referred to as Etiolated Tiller Syndrome (ETS) or Mad Tiller Disease has been showing up throughout the region following all of the heavy rains. The cause of the problem is unknown, but many theories have been suggested including bacterial wilt and a Fusarium species that produces gibberellic acid. Some superintendents have associated the symptoms with applications of certain plant growth regulators, but symptoms have been found this year on golf courses not using PGRs. Check out the photo by Steve McDonald of Turfgrass Disease Solutions in the Philadelphia area to see what ETS looks like.

Bacterial wilt, the most alarming of the diseases due to the lack of control options has begun to appear on at least a couple of golf course putting greens in CT. Although a few products are labeled for the control of bacterial wilt, few if any provide real suppression of the disease. Cultural practices should be adjusted to avoid severe outbreaks. These include mowing affected greens with a dedicated walk-mower and disinfesting the mower with a 10% bleach solution. Mowing should also be done in the afternoon when the turf is dry if possible. The bacterial pathogen can only gain access into the plant through wounds and mowing during the early morning hours when the disease may be present can increase the problem. For this reason, other cultural practices that cause injury such as topdressing and vertical mowing should be ceased until disease symptoms are no longer present. Finally, every effort should be made to keep the greens as dry as possible. For more information on bacterial wilt, visit our factsheets at http://www.turf.uconn.edu/factsheets.shtml.

June 30, 2007
Our first week of HOT weather departed as quickly as it arrived. Recent samples arriving into the diagnostic center varied depending on the location in New England. In Maine, brown ring patch is still active and causing minor problems for some superintendents. In the extreme southern portions of New England and parts of New York, fairy ring is beginning to appear and the hot weather diseases have made a brief appearance.

Diseases such as Pythium blight and brown patch caused by Rhizoctonia zeae are beginning to develop. No reports of the traditional brown patch have been reported in our lab, but for those of you in the warmer parts of New England, July 4th is usually the time to look out for this disease. Very few cases of summer patch have been reported, but disease incidence is increasing. Anthracnose seems to be in limbo right now as those courses dealing with the early season type of the disease are seeing recovery, while those who traditionally see damage during the summer months are still waiting for the disease to begin.

The major concerns throughout the region are the apparent record numbers of annual bluegrass weevils. According to UMASS entomologist Pat Vittum, "We have seen the highest populations in at least 20 years on virtually every golf course in the Northeast." Click here to read Dr. Vittum's latest insect report...it sounds like it could be a long summer for these pests.

Dollar spot continues to be severe throughout the Northeast and the mild temperatures forecasted for much of early July should make collecting those dollar spot samples for UConn's Dollar Spot Resistance research a snap. If you don't have any dollar spot, please help us by putting down a small (6" x 6") board on a portion of your putting green and fairway prior to your next spray.

June 21, 2007
Based on samples arriving to the lab this week, Pythium blight, brown patch (caused by Rhizoctonia zeae), and anthracnose are active throughout the region. These diseases can cause severe damage in a relatively short period of time, so preventive applications of an effective fungicide are warranted. Caution should be used when treating for R. zeae as some traditional brown patch fungicides (e.g., thiophanate-methyl) may be ineffective.

Although less widespread than in recent years, anthracnose basal rot has caused significiant damage to select golf courses in the region. Fungicide trials over the last two years at courses in Greenwich, CT have revealed considerable differences in fungicide efficacy. Results of these two studies suggest that selecting an effective fungicide for your course will take some local knowledge. While the QoI's tested in 2006 provided little to no control, they provided the greatest level of suppression in the 2007 study. The two studies were conducted on golf courses only a couple of miles apart.

Finally, remember to assist us in our dollar spot research by sending in dollar spot samples from putting greens and fairways. If dollar spot is not appearing on your course, go the extra step and place a small board (6" x 6") on the back of your putting green or fairway prior to your next spray. Results of this study will assist in determing the level and type of fungicide resistance prevalent in New England.

June 1, 2007
Disease-related problems have been few due to the lack of rain that we have received throughout the region. In some regions, dollar spot has started to appear. Early season applications of fungicides for dollar spot control, however, still appear to be holding up well.

The few disease issues that we have seen throughout the region include anthracnose basal rot, dollar spot, brown ring patch, and continued cases of fairy ring. We are several weeks away from seeing outbreaks of brown patch and other summer diseases.

Although diseases have been kept to a minimum, weeds are hitting their stride. Crabgrass has germinated throughout the region and in many cases have grown too large for early post-emergence control. Yellow nutsedge has also been seen in the Southwestern portion of Connecticut and probably is starting to germinate in regions farther north as well.

I anticipate that diseases and other problems will start to appear before the next E-Newsletter goes out. Email updates will be sent if anything unusual or of concern appears in the next few weeks.

May 23 , 2007
Dollar spot is finally active in several regions across the state and will probably be present throughout the Northeast soon. For those of you who applied an early season fungicide application for dollar spot, you should have a slight delay in symptom development and more time to respond with a follow up application once symptoms do appear. For those who chose not to make an early season application, now is the time for preventive treatments. Waiting for extensive symptoms to develop may lead to more difficult control and higher fungicide use rates.

In discussions with superintendents across the state, aerification appears to be a high priority. Recovery during the next week or two should be quick due to the excellent growing conditions. If you can get away with it, continue to punch holes in putting surfaces with needle or pencil tines or even with star or bayonet tines until the heat of the summer. The benefits of the increased air exchange and increased water infiltration will be seen well into the summer months.

The diagnostic center continues to receive samples of brown ring patch and fairy ring, but have also observed several cases of mechanical damage from mowing wet greens and also chemical burn. Most cases of chemical burn have been attributed to the concentrated dripping of wetting agent tablets during applicaiton. Although symptoms may be several weeks off, preventive applications for the control of summer patch are here. To fine tune applications to your specific site, experiments by Dr. Vargas at Michigan State suggest applying preventive summer patch control when soil temperatures at a two inch depth at 2:00PM reach 65F for several consecutive days.

If you are experiencing problems or would like to participate in our dollar spot research by sending disease samples from your putting greens and fairways, please contact us.

May 1 , 2007
Weather has finally warmed up and with the temperatures comes the disease activity, Poa seedhead development, and germination of those summer annual weeds. Most turfgrass managers across the state have treated for Poa seedheads and the application of preemergents for crabgrass control is in full swing.

Temperatures around the region have been and look too be great for growing grass. Temperatures throughout Connecticut are predicted to be in the 60's with a chance of rain on Wednesday. The 7-day outlook for several towns are as follows:

  • Danbury, CT: Low 39, High 69
  • Greenwich, CT: Low of 43, High of 71
  • Hartford, CT: Low of 41, High of 69
  • Norwich, CT: Low 38, High 69
  • Old Saybrook, CT: Low 38, High 66
  • Putnam, CT: Low 38, High 67
  • Torrington, CT: Low 37, High 67
Based on site-visits and samples received in the diagnostic lab, several diseases are active in the field. Diseases to watch for include anthracnose basal rot, brown ring patch (BRP; aka Waitea Patch), and fairy ring. Reports from the mid-Atlantic indicate that brown ring patch is causing major problems on many golf courses in the Philadelphia area. We have only seen a few cases of BRP this year, however, warmer temperatures are likely to increase the incidence of this poorly understood disease. We appear to be moving towards warmer temperatures, but turfgrass managers should be on the watch for late outbreaks of Microdochium patch (aka, pink snow mold).

April 22 , 2007
Following a period of heavy rains that brought flooding to many regions as well as cool temperatures, the warm weather has finally arrived for at least a few days. Temperatures throughout the region are in the 70's and in some cases in the low 80's. Now is the time to think about several management practices for the season.

The application of preemergent herbicides are being initiated in many parts of the region. In addition to crabgrass control, many golf course superintendents are getting ready to initiate their Poa seedhead control treatments. To find out more about how to use growing degree days to track when you should apply your seedhead and crabgrass controls, visit the Michigan State Degree Day Tracker Site.

Now is also a good time to begin early season dollar spot control applications. Although dollar spot symptoms are likely over a month away, research at UConn has shown that an early season application of various fungicides can reduce seasonal disease pressure. For a list of effective fungicides, download the NERTF Research Update. In addition to early season dollar spot, now is also a good time for newer bentgrass golf courses to apply their take-all patch control treatments. Remember, although symptoms will not appear until June and into the summer, the pathogen is active now and treatments are more effective during the early spring.

Don't forget to sign up for UConn Turfgrass Email Listserv to start receiving these updates as well as the new E-Newletter via email.

April 4 , 2007
Just as the first mowings were taking place around the region, Mother Nature decided to bring some cold weather. The 10-day forecast is as follows for various regions in Connecticut:

  • Danbury, CT: Low 25, High 53
  • Greenwich, CT: Low of 29, High of 53
  • Hartford, CT: Low of 29, High of 54
  • Norwich, CT: Low 26, High 55
  • Old Saybrook, CT: Low 26, High 53
  • Putnam, CT: Low 26, High 54
  • Torrington, CT: Low 24, High 53

As you can see, there is not much variation across the state and temperatures will not begin to rise until the back end of that 10 day forecast. Based on site-visits yesterday (April 3), several diseases were active (most likely due to warm temperatures on March 27th). Diseases to watch for include anthracnose basal rot, brown ring patch (Waeita patch), and pink snow mold. As we move past these cold temperatures, look for all of these diseases and potentially others to increase.

In addition to disease issues, timings of Poa seedhead control and preemergent crabgrass applications will be pushed back due to the cold weather. Timings for seedhead control are difficult to predict and general recommendations include looking for the seedhead in the boot stage or using a cumulative degree day model of 50. For more information on the use of degree days for various seedhead and weed control issues, check out Michigan State's Degree Day Tracker.

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