home UConn college extension
TEACHING RESEARCH EXTENSION
 
News
UConn Students Earn Pesticide License 

By Steve Rackliffe

A collaborative effort between the Connecticut DEP and the UConn Turfgrass Science program was established to provide students the opportunity to take the Connecticut Pesticide Operators exam on the Storrs campus. Students taking and passing the exam will be issued a Connecticut Operators license. Graduating students, and students preparing for field internships that have obtained their operators certification will be qualified to apply pesticides under the direction of a licensed supervisor. The Operators Certification focuses on pesticide safety, reading pesticide labels, and Connecticut pesticide law. UConn graduates holding a pesticide operators license will be much more competitive in the job market. Licensed interns would be able to apply pesticides on their internships. The collaborative effort between DEP and the University of Connecticut Turfgrass Science Program benefits both the student and the field supervisor. It is our goal to have UConn graduates and interns enter the workforce with the education and credentials that will allow them to be competitive and successful.
permalink related link
UConn Turfgrass Research Featured on TurfNetTV 

The University of Connecticut's Turfgrass Science Program is featured this month on TurfNetTV. Filmed in February, TurfNetTV visited UConn's Turfgrass Research Facility and discussed current nozzle research with John Kaminski, Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Pathology.

Highlights of the interview include an overview of the Turfgrass and Soil Science Program initiated by Dr. Karl Guillard back in 1998 and its rapid growth in recent years. Dr. Kaminski discusses the growth of the University's Turf Program over the last few years incuding the hiring of three new faculty members, the construction of a new Turfgrass Resource Unit, and the expansion of field and research plots at the Plant Science Research and Education Facility.

Results of an ongoing study conducted in a collaborative research effort with Dr. Michael Fidanza, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Penn State Berks and Dr. Kaminski are also featured. Ongoing research has focused on the proper selection of nozzle types in an effort to improve fungicide efficacy for controlling dollar spot of golf courses. Dollar spot, a foliar disease caused by the pathogen Sclerotinia homoeocarpa, is one of the most common and chronic diseases found on golf courses in the United States. Results from this ongoing study found that disease suppression can be improved with proper nozzle selection. Although more research is needed, potential benefits include a reduction the overall quanitity of pesticides used to suppress dollar spot and a reduction in application interval.

It is clearly an exciting time of growth and expansion in Storrs. To find out more about the UConn Turfgrass and Soil Science Program, please visit our www.turf.uconn.edu.

Click here to view the video.
permalink related link
Turf Bowl A Success For UConn 

The University of Connecticut's Turfgrass Science Program was well represented at the 13th Annual GCSAA Turf Bowl in Anaheim, CA. UConn's top team finished in 14th place out of the 81 total teams entered. The top team was made up of Turf Club members Chris Orlich, Marc Dubour, Brian Tencza, and Nate Miller. A second, two-man team of David McIntyre and David Golembeski also had a strong showing in the competition. In addition to the undergraduates, graduate student Alex Putman (advised by Assistant Professor John Kaminski) took the top spot among all graduate students.

Student travel to Anaheim was supported by the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and UConn's Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center. This experience would not be possible without their generous contributions.
permalink related link
Syngenta Endows Fund for Turfgrass Program 

by Jennifer Huber

The turfgrass program at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) has received welcome support from Syngenta Professional Products of Greensboro, North Carolina. The Syngenta UConn Turfgrass Pathology Fund was established with a $25,000 endowment in August. Syngenta Professional Products is a subsidiary of Syngenta, a leading global agribusiness headquartered in Switzerland that develops and markets sustainable agriculture products and technology.

The Syngenta UConn Turfgrass Pathology Fund supports education, extension and research activities at the Department of Plant Science and the UConn Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center. The diagnostic center provides service to commercial clients throughout the Northeast. It’s an essential resource for managers of athletic fields, high-maintenance commercial land and golf courses. Assistant Professor John Kaminski was recruited in 2005 to create the turfgrass pathology program and lead research into turfgrass diseases, fungicide resistance and disease management.

“[John Kaminski] is very energetic. He’s taken an active step to fill the need in the Northeast,” says Dave Ross, Technical Manager, Lawn and Garden at Syngenta Professional Products.

“When there are relatively new researchers in our field, we want to help them to be successful,” Ross adds. “We saw that he’s doing very good work, and we wanted to help his research program and the University.”

UConn is quickly becoming a leader in turfgrass education, research and development. Faculty and graduate students are applying discoveries made through research in the lab to develop innovative solutions and provide them to clients through the diagnostic center. Most significantly, cutting-edge research and development at UConn is leading to a reduction in the use of pesticides, says Kaminski.

“It really benefits everyone,” says Kaminski. “What we’re trying to do is marry the two programs, the research and the diagnostic services, to really benefit the end users.”

Kaminski notes that the Syngenta UConn Turfgrass Pathology Fund provides a needed foundation on which to build support in order to grow UConn’s program.

“The goal is to build up the endowment to a level that will continue to provide support to the turfgrass pathology program at UConn,” says Kaminski. “I’m looking at longevity. When I retire, the next person will hopefully have a nest egg to fund graduate and research assistantships.”

Kaminski also emphasizes that strong private support from individuals and industry leaders like Syngenta will enable UConn to raise the profile of the turfgrass program. “It’s really to set the stage to build the program to where we want it to be, and that’s a nationally recognized research and education program,” he says.


Standing atop a turfgrass plot at UConn, Assistant Professor John Kaminski (center) accepts a $25,000 check from Syngenta Professional Products for the Syngenta UConn Turfgrass Pathology Fund on October 18. From left: John K. Martin, president of the UConn Foundation, Kirklyn M. Kerr, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mary Musgrave, head of the Department of Plant Science, Kaminski, and Michael Agnew, Renee Keese, Dave Ross, and Robert Goglia of Syngenta Professional Products.

Copyright 2006 by The University of Connecticut Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

www.foundation.uconn.edu
permalink related link
Another Difficult Summer For Growing Grass 

John Kaminski, Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Pathology
University of Connecticut

In 2005, the life of a New England golf course superintendent was difficult. Much of the difficulties were contributed to the cool wet spring that was immediately followed by temperatures routinely reaching 90F. These conditions favored poor spring root growth that left turf stands with little chance of surviving the record breaking summer heat. Although temperatures were more favorable for turfgrass growth in 2006, growing grass proved to be just as difficult on many golf courses throughout the region. Based on samples sent to UConn and visits to various golf courses throughout New England, it was apparent that a combination of factors contributed to this years declining turf.

Unlike last year in which turf simply could not stand up to the heat, 2006 was a year in which turfgrass pathogens were more prevalent. Beginning as early as March, anthracnose basal rot was identified on several golf courses, and controlling the pathogen this early in the year proved difficult. Despite the occasional outbreak of Microdochium patch, April and May was relatively mild period for disease activity. As temperatures began to warm in mid-May, however, several outbreaks of a new species of Rhizoctonia appeared simultaneously throughout states in New England, the Mid-West and along the West Coast. Although symptoms of this unusual disease mimicked cool-temperature brown patch (aka, Yellow Patch), disease activity occurred at warmer temperatures and generally was limited to annual bluegrass. Other diseases that made an impressive appearance in 2006 included bacterial wilt, brown patch, dollar spot, fairy ring, Pythium blight and root dysfunction, red thread, and summer patch.


Lack of internal drainage and high levels of organic matter often spell trouble for golf course putting greens for a variety of reasons.

If dealing with a cornucopia of diseases wasn’t enough, many golf courses were dealing with the same abiotic and cultural problems from the previous year. As many of you now know, 2005 was a litmus test that exposed areas in need of various cultural improvements. In particular, the lack of internal drainage on native soil putting greens and/or the build up of organic matter has emerged as one of the biggest factors in declining turf. In the past two years, a common denominator of poor greens has been compacted native soil underlying an inch or two of sand topdressing. In addition, many of these putting greens supported an equal thickness of thatch or mat. Without the internal drainage to move the water through the profile, water bridged at the soil-sand interface, resulting in poor root growth, conditions favorable for pathogen development, and plants vulnerable to excessive heat. In many cases, this intermediate phase of a sand topdressing program is a difficult one to get past and the true benefits of topdressing native soil greens often are not realized until a sand cap of several inches is built up.

We all know that the demands to maintain tournament conditions during the heat of the season or for an extended period of time are unrealistic. Even preparation for a U.S. Open begins years in advance and the course maintained to peak over a 4-day period. It is important to recognize what your course can and cannot handle throughout the season. During the summer months, take steps to determine the underlying cause of weak turf and take the necessary steps to correct the problem once conditions become favorable for turfgrass growth. Remember, the time to fix your golf swing is on the practice range and not in the middle of a round.
permalink related link

Back Next