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What's the Web Saying About Turfgrass: 8-27-10 Edition

August 27, 2010

This week brought a break from the rain and we were treated to cooler temperatures. It's looks as though things will heat up again next week. Until then, here are some turf and golf related thinks.

iPhone at Work: Certified Golf Course Superintendent. How does a golf course superintendent use his iPhone to get the job done and what iPhone apps help get him through his day? Here’s one superintendents answer and as a small token of thanks we’re sending him a $20 iTunes gift certificate.

Golf's biggest problem-Women may be solution. The overwhelming problem facing the golf industry is finding new players while retaining those who already play. Money and time have been spent to find a fix. Just not often enough to generate a pattern of growth rather than decline. The Right Invitation makes the case for additional investment in order to attract and retain women customers and that these women are the source of growth for the golf industry.

The History of Golf Course Superintendents. This is a great video for anyone that loves Golf. As a matter of fact, it is great even if you don't like Golf, but would like to learn some things that didn’t know.

Hey golf gods, what did Dustin Johnson ever do? This letter of complaint is for the gods of golf: Which one of you has Dustin Johnson ticked off? You've shown this kid no mercy. What next, the rack?

Nuisance ants on golf courses. Mound-building nuisance ants have become one of the most troublesome pests in golf course maintenance. This article provides an update on our current USGA-funded research project concerning biology and pro-active management of turf ants on golf courses.

Enemy Number One to Black Cutworms. Superintendents can feel alone in their battles to protect golf courses from the ravages of insect invasion. They are not - Mother Nature is on their side. University of Kentucky entomologist, Dr. Dan Potter, and his talented group of graduate students, investigate how natural enemies of turf insects can help limit turf damage to golf courses. One such enemy is a type of virus that attacks black cutworms-and it works.


Goodbye Warm Summer Nights

August 25, 2010

Although you might not have been aware, Central Iowa had quite the streak going. June 6 was the last time the nighttime temps went below 60 degrees…that is until last night. Most of the state was greeted to early morning temperatures in the low to mid-50’s this morning. Some northern locations even saw temperatures dip in the 40’s. A cool reminder that fall conditions and improved growing conditions are upon us.

The weather this summer has been unusual to say the least. Most of the readership would probably use a different adjective to describe the weather but I’ll stick to “unusual” (This is a PG rated blog site after all). The consecutive day’s streak of nighttime temperatures above 60 degrees officially ends at 79 days. This falls just short of the record set back in 1983 when Central Iowa ran up a streak of 81 days. Good bye and good riddance. Don’t come back until next year.

Even with the cooler temperatures there are still disease and insect pressures that continue to cause problems. We have quite a bit of type II fairy ring working at our research station. Type II fairy rings have only a band of dark green turf, with or without mushrooms present in the band. On areas that are mowed frequently (greens and tees), mature mushrooms may never be observed but the "button" stage may be present at ground level. These rings have coalesced together and cover a fairly large area of turf but they have yet to cause any damage.

We also have noticed a tremendous increase in bird activity lately as they hunt after black cutworms that are feeding on our green and fairway height creeping bentgrass. I was able to find this sample by digging through a wedge I sampled from a putting green. I was surprised to observe just how deep into the soil profile the tunnel went.

Sand bunkers continue to make news as a Connecticut man was arrested in part for taking a joyride on a golf course which caused an estimated $10,000 worth of damage. Maintenance workers arrived at work to find a car in the greenside bunker on the eighth hole. There hasn’t been any word if local rules deemed it a waste bunker allowing golfers to ground their club. Maybe we can get a ruling from the PGA on this.


Dollar Spot and Black Cutworms

July 11, 2014

Over the last three to four weeks I have received pictures from Neric Smith at Indian Hills CC (seen below), and also noticed dollar spot on several creeping bentgrass golf course tees/fairways across the state. Dollar spot is caused by the fungal pathogen Sclerotinia homoeocarpa. Generally, dollar spot develops when dew persists on the plant for greater than 8 hours. It is less dependent on temperature, and can develop over a wide range of temperatures (55-80°F). Turf deficient in nitrogen is the most likely situation where signs of dollar spot will occur. The disease gets its name from the silver-dollar-sized blighted areas that appear on closely mown creeping bentgrass. In Kentucky bluegrass and higher cut turf, the blighted area is about the size of a softball. Upon further examination of the turf affected by this disease, you will see an hour-glass shaped lesion in the middle of the leaf blade. The lesion is tan in the middle, surrounded by brown to orange halos on each side.

Active dollar spot infections produce a cottony white mycelium mass that is often evident on the turf during the early morning hours, not to be confused with spider webs. When viewed under a microscope the mycelium will exhibit y-shaped branching and the presence of septum (crosswalls). Pythium also produces this cottony white mass of mycelium but does not contain septum.

There are many ways to control dollar spot. The most important management technique is to increase N fertility in situations where N is found to be deficient. In addition to adding nitrogen; moderating thatch, removing dew, and preventing drought stress will help prevent the occurrence of dollar spot. The risk with many site-specific inhibitors is the development of dollar spot resistance. To prevent fungicide resistance use a rotation of chemicals and avoid repetitive use.  

The two pictures below were taken by Neric at Indian Hills.


The black cutworm is the most widely distributed cutworm that attacks turf in the United States. Cutworms do not overwinter in Iowa, but are brought up by winds from the south. Once they are established in the spring, they can undergo several life cycles before dying out in the fall. The adult is a dark-colored moth that is often observed fluttering around lights in the summer months. 

Cutworms, as the ones seen below, are commonly found in open aerification holes on golf course greens. A close look at the surface will reveal a lot of feeding damage around the holes.  They are often empty because of the feeding of birds. Cutworms are surface feeders and can easily be controlled with insecticides, the most common of these being Sevin (Carbaryl). While the larvae mainly emerge at night to feed, some may be seen on the putting surface during the day time, as was the case with the pictures below that was seen at Cedar Pointe in Boone a few weeks ago. 






August 7, 2013

It's that time of year again when the black cutworm (Agrotis ipsilon) larvae begin to show up on bentgrass greens and fairways.  For us at the research station, it is normally about field day time that they become a problem.  They were right on time this year.

They are a little hard to see, but there are about 50 birds on bentgrass area below at the research station.  Birds feed on the larvae and are a good sign that there is a problem.

They are surface feeders and they can easily be controlled with most common insecticides.  We used Sevin (Carbaryl).  It was very effective.


A close look at the surface will reveal a lot of feeding holes.  They are often empty because of the feeding of birds

There will also likely be some larvae on the surface, like the one below sighted on August one at the research station.

This is a picture of the adult.  This is from the Purdue web site.  Notice the dagger shaped black mark on each wing.


Armyworms can also be a problem at this time of year, but this year it was black cutworm at the research station.