home UConn college extension
TEACHING RESEARCH EXTENSION
 
News
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
Karl Guillard Wins Faculty Excellence Award in Undergraduate Teaching 

Basic to the greatness of the university is the quality of its faculty. The purpose of this award is to provide an incentive to encourage excellence in classroom teaching and thus to assist the University in its continuing efforts to attain the highest academic recognition.
permalink related link
SEND YOUR SAMPLES to Support Dollar Spot Research 

Funded by the New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation, Syngenta Crop Protection and the United States Golf Association, researchers at the University of Connecticut are investigating various aspects of managing dollar spot. Research will focus on improving fungicide efficacy through the proper selection of nozzle-types (See June 2006 GCM article) as well as through unconventional application timings.

In addition to developing improved management strategies, researchers will seek to determine the importance and scope of pathogen resistance to fungicides commonly used to control dollar spot. To participate in this component of the project, please send dollar spot samples from fairways and/or greens to the University of Connecticut (dollar spot samples submitted during the study will not be charged a diagnostic fee).

UCONN Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center
c/o John Kaminski
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4067
Storrs, CT 06269

For more information on this research project or disease diagnostic services at UConn, please contact John Kaminski.
permalink related link
Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center Now Open 

By Bud Gavitt

Golf course superintendents, sports and recreational field managers, and commercial lawn care operators can now submit turf samples showing signs of pest damage and physiological disorders for analysis at the Department of Plant Science’s Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center. Established last year by John Kaminski, assistant professor of pathology in turfgrass science in the Department of Plant Science, the center is housed in room 110 of the W.B. Young Building.

A substantial grant to purchase equipment and supplies, including microscopes, for the center was given by the New England Regional Turfgrass Foundation. This private foundation funds to research and advancement of the region’s turf industry.

The center is open daily year round but most of the diagnostic work is done during the turfgrass growing season. Kaminski makes every effort to diagnose the disorder and give recommendations on what to do to address the problem within 24 hours.

In most cases golf course superintendents and others are able to identify the problem but want it to be confirmed by Kaminski. Once the problem is identified, recommendations may include changing a cultural practice, such as increasing turf mowing height or using plant protectants to control a turf pest.

Sometimes Kaminski visits the site to see what’s going on with a difficult problem. He says problems may occur that aren’t related to disease but still may cause turf to decline. For example, there may be too much shade, too much water, or not enough nitrogen fertilizer in the soil.

Samples can be sent to: Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center, Department of Plant Science, UConn, 1376 Storrs Road, U-4067, Storrs, CT 06269-4067. Samples must be submitted Monday through Thursday in order to provide diagnostic services the following day. If you like, you can also contact Kaminski at (860) 486-0162 or email him at john.kaminski@uconn.edu. To cover costs, there is a fee of $50.00 for Connecticut samples and $100.00 for out-of-state samples.

Kaminski expects to have a Web site by the end of the year that will include updates on the department’s turfgrass programs and new and ongoing pest control problems.

“My goal,” Kaminski says, “is to assist turfgrass managers throughout the region with whatever agronomic problems they may have.” “An additional benefit of the Center is that learning about the problems in the field provides ideas for future turfgrass research projects.”

Homeowners can get answers to their turf and lawn care questions from the Home and Garden Education Center at (877)486-6271 or by email.
permalink related link
Phoenix Environmental Care LLC Makes Donation to Turfgrass Research at the University of Connecticut 

Valdosta, GA – Phoenix Environmental Care LLC has made a donation to the turfgrass pathology research program headed by Dr. John Kaminski at the University of Connecticut.

“We have a board of advisors called ‘Friends of Phoenix’ which consist of several golf course superintendents,” says Owen Towne, Phoenix Environmental Care LLC President. “The donation is based on the recommendation of that board. We are happy to do this, because Dr. Kaminski’s work on anthracnose and other turf diseases is benefiting golf course superintendents far beyond the state of Connecticut.”

Towne says the contribution is a part of Phoenix Environmental Care’s ongoing commitment to giving back a portion of the company’s sales to organizations and universities that support the Green Industry. “We’ve done this with groups like the Wee One foundation and others, and we will continue our company policy of giving back to the Green Industry.”

“It’s great to have Phoenix supporting our efforts,” says Kaminski. “The money will be used to hire a summer technician to assist in all aspects of our turf pathology program. We continue to grow at a rapid pace, and our goal is to make a positive impact throughout New England. The funding they’ve provided will play a large role in accomplishing this.”

Dr. Kaminski was recently chosen to receive the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation Award of Excellence for 2005. A native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Kaminski earned a B.S degree from Penn State University in 1998. He earned his M.S. and PhD at the University of Maryland where his work involved the investigation of the biology of Ophiosphaerella agrostis and epidemiology of bentgrass dead spot.

Phoenix Environmental Care specializes in turf, nursery, ornamental and aquatic products, marketing a variety of materials to meet the needs of the Green and Aquatic Industries through unique, quality formulations and industry support.
permalink related link

Back Next