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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
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Poa Putting Green Constructed at UConn 

John Kaminski, Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Science
University of Connecticut

In an ongoing effort to conduct field research on the management and control of anthracnose basal rot, researchers at the University of Connecticut have completed the establishment of an approximately 15,000 sq ft annual bluegrass putting green. In 2005, plugs were harvested from several golf courses and used to establish the initial 5000 sq ft. Additional plugs were collected in the spring of 2006 and thanks to the donation of approximately 6000 sq ft of annual bluegrass sod from a Connecticut golf course, the project was completed this week.



In addition to research on Anthracnose, long-term research projects on the putting green will include:

1. Increasing creeping bentgrass populations through the use of plant growth regulators.
2. Determining the most efficacious method for interseeding bentgrass into existing stands of turf.
3. Determining the influence of various nitrogen sources on annual bluegrass diseases.

To support these projects or for more information, please contact please contact John Kaminski.

The Turfgrass Pathology Team at UConn would like to thank Jason St. Louis (Willimantic Country Club), Anthony Grosso (Pautipaug Country Club), and William Gaydosh (Round Hill Club) for providing materials and labor to complete this project.
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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.
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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.
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Anthracnose: A Five-Year Multistate Research Initiative 

John Kaminski, Assistant Professor of Turfgrass Pathology
University of Connecticut

Desired or not, annual bluegrass is commonly found on putting greens throughout the Northeast and surrounding regions. While a healthy stand of annual bluegrass can result in an excellent putting surface, the species is known to have its fair share of issues. Problems associated with managing annual bluegrass were evident during the summer of 2005, which was marked by days in which temperatures above 90F appeared to be the norm and not the exception. In addition to environmental stresses, annual bluegrass is prone to damage from routine cultural practices (e.g., low mowing, topdressing, vertical cutting, etc.) and is susceptible to a variety of turfgrass diseases. One disease in particular has drawn the attention of university researchers.

An increase in the incidence and severity of anthracnose basal rot (caused by Colletotrichum cereale) over the last 10 years has led to the development of a new Multistate Research Initiative. Towards the end of 2005, turfgrass researchers from the Northeast and other regions of the United States and Canada decided to gather their resources to address this emerging problem. Comprised of 22 turfgrass researchers, the multistate anthracnose (and annual bluegrass weevil) project will attempt to answer several questions over the next 5 years. Four main issues that will be addressed include:

Objective 1) Fill critical gaps in our understanding of the anthracnose pathogen.

An important component of this project is improving our understanding of the biology and ecology of the pathogen that causes anthracnose. Researchers will focus on identifying the geographic distribution of anthracnose and also use various methods to determine differences among strains of the pathogen. In addition to determining the distribution and spread of the pathogen, experiments will be conducted to elucidate important biological aspects of C. cereale. Laboratory and field experiments will seek to determine how and where the pathogen survives unfavorable periods and how and when infection occurs. Knowledge obtained from these basic studies will provide valuable information that will increase our understanding of the host-pathogen interaction.

Objective 2) Identify and develop new control options for suppressing anthracnose.

Research will be conducted to increase our list of management options used to reduce the severity of anthracnose. Management strategies to be evaluated include the use of biological, biorational and chemical controls. Studies will seek to improve pesticide combinations, timing regimes, and resistant management strategies. The frequency and mechanisms of Colletotrichum resistance to commonly used chemistries will also be examined.

In addition to biological and chemical controls, coordinated field studies will evaluate the impact of various cultural practices on the development of anthracnose. Strategies will seek to determine the influence of nitrogen rate and source, plant growth regulators, and other cultural practices (e.g., mowing, verticutting, irrigation, etc.) on disease severity. Currently developed annual bluegrass cultivars will also be assessed in field studies to determine their potential benefits on newly established putting surfaces. Results from these field and greenhouse studies will provide valuable information applicable to managing this disease on golf courses.

Objective 3) Develop improved IPM decision tools for managing anthracnose on golf courses.

In addition to determining management strategies that directly impact anthracnose severity, researchers will attempts to determine the influence of environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, leaf wetness, etc.) on anthracnose. Using information gathered from field and greenhouse studies, a predictive model for anthracnose will be constructed from environmental variables and key management factors. Results from these investigations will allow turfgrass managers to forecast anthracnose development and therefore implement the appropriate disease management strategies prior to the onset of severe damage.

Objective 4) Develop best management practices for annual bluegrass on golf courses to help reduce economic and environmental costs.

Following the collection and interpretation of research results obtained from these studies, pertinent findings will be shared directly with golf course superintendents. Results from all participants in this study will be combined to develop a best management practices publication for annual bluegrass. Research findings will also be distributed in the form of publications, annual meetings and symposium sessions, and regional workshops through the Northeast.

Ultimately, this project will allow researchers from around the region to work together to solve a problem facing golf course superintendents. By combining our efforts, we hope to speed the gathering of information and avoid overlap and duplication of research efforts. Finally, the consolidation of information from all researchers in a single location (Multistate Website to be introduced in 2006) will make it easier for golf course superintendents to find information about relevant research in their region.

Although this project involves numerous turfgrass researchers, the participation of golf course superintendents will be essential to the success of the project. In the coming months, you will be asked to participate in a survey that will provide valuable information for this project. Other ways you can contribute include the communication of information about anthracnose at your facility, the submission of suspected anthracnose samples to participating university diagnostic labs, and the use of your golf course for various field studies related to the project.

Researchers are optimistic about finding improved management strategies for suppressing anthracnose. Results obtained over the next five years will play a key role in our understanding of the pathogen and management of this increasingly devastating disease. For more information about this project, contact John Kaminski at the University of Connecticut.
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