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Reaction To Rentschler Is Natural 

By SHAWN COURCHESNE | Courant Staff Writer
September 12, 2007

STORRS - UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway said Tuesday that Northland AEG, the company that manages state-owned Rentschler Field in East Hartford, has brought in a team of experts to help ensure the playing surface is ready for Saturday's game against Temple.

In the home opener last Saturday against Maine, there were numerous brown spots and chunks of turf flew throughout the game. UConn coach Randy Edsall expressed displeasure with the field conditions in a conference call Sunday. Hathaway said he met with stadium officials Monday and Tuesday at Rentschler.

"The bottom line, first and foremost, we want a safe field for all the student athletes are playing on the teams," Hathaway said. "Secondly, we want a field that looks the way it should look in the newest Division I-A football stadium in the country. We have shared our thoughts with the folks at the stadium. They know where we stand on it."
There were crews at the stadium Tuesday resodding sections of the field, some of which sustained additional damage Sunday during a soccer game between Costa Rica and Honduras.

Edsall says he is focused on preparing his team and has left the responsibility of dealing with field issues to Hathaway and Jon Dahlquist, the team's director of football operations.

"As a football coach, all I'm concerned about is that they get the field in the best possible shape that they can so we wouldn't incur any injury," Edsall said Tuesday.

Hathaway joked about the e-mails and messages he has received from amateur agronomists.

"I appreciate all of our fans and supporters who have sent a wide range of advice and have reminded us we need to water the field," Hathaway said. "Let me reassure you, rain or no rain, that field is well irrigated. If it was simply turning on the faucet, I would have been willing to go down there. This is not a matter of water. I've had a number of people e-mail me about grub applications. This is not grubs. This is not irrigation problems. We have something in there that got into the root system to some degree and I'm not going to get too deep into that because this isn't what I do for a living."

An individual who would not give his name answered the phone Tuesday at Championship Turf of Harwinton, which has maintained the field since the facility opened in 2003. He said the company would not comment on the problems and said all questions concerning the issue should be directed through Northland AEG. Marty Brooks, who manages the stadium for Northland AEG, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Hathaway said team and stadium officials will assess the game Saturday. The third of seven home games is Sept. 29 against Akron.

"We have the stadium people working with turf farms to have us prepared in case after Saturday's game we feel it needs to be resodded in its entirety," Hathaway said. "We'll make that decision after looking at it Sunday and Monday. If it needs to be resodded, [the Office of Policy and Management] is prepared to resod it.

"At the appropriate time, we'll go back and look at what was done to this field over the past three weeks to put us in the situation we found ourselves in on Saturday."

Edsall on Sunday brought up the option of installing the synthetic FieldTurf, but Hathaway didn't want to talk about going that far.

"I think FieldTurf could always be an option," Hathaway said. "It could have been an option when we put in the natural grass. I think we've had great success with the natural grass in the first four years that we played there. Obviously, the state would have some say in whether we put FieldTurf in or stay with natural grass. I'm not sure that the FieldTurf discussion today is the one that we need to have. What we need to do is get this field back in the best shape possible."

Lansanah Nursing Ankle

Senior middle linebacker Danny Lansanah, who left the 38-0 victory over Maine late in the third quarter with a right ankle injury, said he expects to play this week.

"Just walking on it now, it's strong. It doesn't bother me that much. It just bothers me when I wake up in the morning," Lansanah said. "I feel like if I just sit out another day or so and get it stronger and keep rehabbing it, I should be fine.

"I want to play. I want to be out there. I'm the quarterback of the defense, the leader of the defense. Me being out, I think the defense would take a big hit because I take a lot of pride in [what I do] and the other guys look up to me. I feel like I've got to be out there regardless."

Contact Shawn Courchesne at


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In The Field: 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.
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Robert A. Ruszala Elected NERTF President 

The New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation announces that Robert A. Ruszala, golf course superintendent of Hickory Ridge Country Club in Amherst MA, has been elected president for the 2007-2008 fiscal year. Bob has been serving on the NERTF Board of Directors since 2000 as a delegate of the Golf Courses Superintendents Association of New England (GCSANE) which he served as president of in 2000 & 2001. He replaces Ted Maddocks of Ekwanok Country Club, Manchester VT, who will continue to serve on the board as the immediate past president. William R. Morton, CGCS of The Misquamicut Club (Watch Hill, RI) will serve as vice-president, Bob A. Matthews, CGCS, CIA, of White Cliffs Country Club (Plymouth, MA) will serve as secretary, and Michael A. Buras, of Longwood Cricket Club (Chestnut Hill, MA) will serve as Treasurer. The foundation has recently enjoyed its 10th Educational Conference and Trade Show at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI. More than 3000 individuals attended the 4 days of education conference and trade show activities. The 11th Annual New England Regional Turfgrass Conference and Show will take place on March 3-6th, 2008. The NERTF has funded more than $763,000 in Turfgrass Research in the New England area since being organized in 1996. More information may be obtained concerning the foundation, the conference & show and turfgrass research funded by the foundation, by visiting our website @ www.nertf.org.
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In The Field: 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 mowers 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.
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In The Field: 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.
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