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The Importance of Understanding Product Labels: Reviewing Labels Improves Product Performance

March 23, 2010

The golf season will soon be getting underway as most golf courses in the state are preparing to open. The start of another season signifies the beginning of pest and disease pressure. Areas affected by gray snow mold should begin to recover as the grass begins to grow. Pressure from other mild weather diseases such as pink snow mold and cool-season brown patch will persist longer into the spring. As you prepare your plant protectants, be sure to revisit the product label as this information can change over time.

Editor’s note: The remainder of this article was submitted by Todd Burkdoll, BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals Technical Specialist.

Product labels aren’t the type of reading material that you can snuggle up with—but they’re also not the kind you can ignore or just skim through before filing away.

Labels deserve routine attention beyond the one-time, quick read after purchase. However, it can be common practice to follow use recommendations from colleagues and distributors without analyzing the important details explained on the product’s label. But doing so can save money, prevent injury and help grow better turfgrass by ensuring product performance.

Most people using fungicides, herbicides and insecticides only ask themselves, “What product do I need to control the weed, insect or disease and what rate do I apply?” Rate information is essential, but labels provide a technical breakdown and need-to-know information prior to application. Here are five key areas to read on a label:

1. Mix Mindfully
The tank mixing section of a label lays out exactly how to combine a product with other additives. Glazing over these guidelines can create an un-usable compound, clog application equipment and reduce efficacy.

The basic rule of thumb—mix dry materials first, then add liquids—may not ring true for all products. One must be mindful of variances between generic and patented formulas and know that even though an active ingredient may be the same, its formula could require different a mixing order. So don’t rely on old standards—get up to speed on the label’s specifics before adding each product to the tank.

2. Follow Special Statements
Special statements on a label clearly communicate how to use a product for particular conditions. In uncontrolled climates, weather is an important variable to consider.

Be sure to make note of the rainfast or drying times mentioned in a special statement or you may lose your valuable pest control efforts to precipitation. Retain product effectiveness by making sure spray technicians are also in-the-know about circumstances included in the special statements section.

3. Get to Know Group Numbers
Group numbers help avoid the risk of disease resistance by identifying which fungicides, herbicides and insecticide products operate under the same mode of action. Usually included on the first page of a label, group numbers make it easy to organize products with different modes of action into a rotation program. For example, if you notice signs of resistance after using a fungicide in Group 1, try using a product with a different group number in the next application.

4. Acknowledge Agricultural Use Requirements
Agricultural and non-agricultural use requirements on product labels are important and vary depending on product use. A greenhouse or nursery employee, for instance, may use the same product as a turf professional, but has to abide by a completely different set of rules with regard to protective equipment and re-entry interval. Failing to read this section of a label could harm employees, turf or plants and the environment.

5. Follow restrictions and limitations
Carefully read the “general restrictions and limitations” section on your product labels. Knowing the “do not” statements list can mean the difference between having healthy turf and plants—or damaging an entire fairway or landscape bed with poor application practices. Brushing up on labels you haven’t read since last year can make all the difference.

General suggestions
Making a 10-15 minute investment in reading a label can save a lot of time and hassle compared with the fallout of misusing a product. Schedule a label date once a year where you can carefully re-familiarize yourself with old labels and dissect the details of new updated labels. The best place to obtain current labels is

Todd Burkdoll is a Technical Specialist in the Western U.S. for BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals. Todd can be reached at


It’s the Start of Another Season...Almost

March 11, 2010

Winter has eased its grip on the Midwest the last 10 days or so and we have experienced significant snow melt throughout much of Iowa. Grass is even starting to peek through the snow in spots. Could this be a sign spring is right around the corner? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s recap the Iowa winter thus far.

Snowfall for the three mid-winter months of December, January, and February averaged 45.1 inches or 23.3 inches greater than normal. This is the greatest snow total of record for these three months (old record of 44.7 inches Dec. 1961-Feb. 1962). The snow total for the overall snow season (fall through spring) ranks 8th highest among 123 years of record with another two months of the season remaining (keep in mind that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow for what it’s worth). This has been the third consecutive colder than normal winter and fourth consecutive snowier than usual winter.

But, with the recent snowmelt, I was able to escape from the office for a little scouting on the golf course. With the prolonged snow cover and soil temperatures right around the freezing mark I was anticipating decent snow mold activity. The location I was scouting had been treated with a snow mold preventative but I was still able to find small breakthroughs of both gray and pink snow mold.

Most of the gray snow mold appeared in the rough areas and the damage is likely only superficial. Gray snow mold initially appears as circular patches ranging in color from light yellow to white soon after the snow melts. As the disease progresses the patches can grow and coalesce together with the leaves often becoming matted together. A reliable way to identify gray snow mold is to look for sclerotia embedded in the leaves of infected tissue. The sclerotia appear yellow to light brown soon following snow melt and eventually turn dark brown.

Pink snow mold, as its name implies, is often identified by white to pinkish mycelium that forms at the margins of the patches. The pink color is brief and often only visible during early daylight hours. I only saw two patches of pink snow mold during my outing. However, the window for pink snow mold development extends further in the spring as snow cover is not a requirement for this disease.

I also was treated to some vole damage. Voles are small rodents (4 to 6 inches) long and are mainly vegetarians. The main damage to turf is caused by their runways through the turf canopy. Vole damage is common under snow cover as they search for seeds and other vegetation.

Hopefully you’ll be greeted with healthy turf as the snow continues to melt. Let’s hope spring is just around the corner.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant


Name That Patch – Early Spring Brown Spots

March 28, 2011

Parts of the Midwest are getting hit with another round of snow but there is no denying that spring continues to inch closer by the day. In fact, before this last blast of winter weather, spring activities were slowly getting underway. Trees were beginning to break dormancy, bulbs were peaking through the soil, and lawns were starting to green up.

This process has already started across parts of the Midwest and some of you may have noticed patches, or areas of brown in your lawn. It’s typical to receive a number of questions from your clients about the cause of these brown spots during spring green-up. There are a number of reasons why these patches can appear and this article will address some of the most common reasons and discuss what action, if any, is needed to remedy the situation.

Dormant warm-season grasses
Most lawns in the upper Midwest contain cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall and fine fescues. Occasionally lawns, or parts of the lawn, will contain warm-season grass species. Examples of these could include zoysiagrass, buffalograss, or nimblewill. Whereas cool-season grasses grow best in the spring and fall, warm-season grasses prefer the mid-summer months and will remain dormant (brown) longer into the spring until warmer temperatures arrive.

If zoysiagrass or buffalograss are the cause of your brown spot there isn’t much you can do other than exercise patience until warmer weather arrives. Nimblewill can be selectively controlled with Tenacity herbicide. Tenacity herbicide will be made available to homeowners later this spring. Consult a lawn care professional for more information about Tenacity herbicide.

Dormant patches of nimblewill are very noticeable early in the spring.  Nimblewill can be selectively controlled with Tenacity herbicide.  Consult with a lawn care professional about the availability and use of Tenacity herbicide.


Warm-season grasses such as buffalograss are still brown while cool-season grasses such a fine fescues begin to green-up.

Leftover annual grassy weeds
Annual weeds such as crabgrass are always a concern and last year they seemed to be particularly troublesome. In lawns that had severe outbreaks, some of these annual grassy weeds may still be present. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about controlling leftover annual weeds. They have completed their lifecycle and are no longer alive. They did however drop seed and you may consider using a pre-emergence herbicide for the upcoming season.


Goosegrass, an annual grassy weed, is still present from the previous growing season. 

Snow molds
Damage from pink and gray snow mold is most evident shortly after the snow melts. The grass will usually appear off-color and be matted down. Chemical applications to control snow molds in the spring are seldom recommended as most of the damage has already taken place. You can help your lawn by raking up the matted areas of grass with a leaf rake. Chances are there is some live turf hiding underneath. The picture below shows an area of gray snow mold on the Iowa State University central campus.


Gray snow mold on the Iowa State University campus. 

Dog spots
Damage from animal urine will definitely create brown spots in the lawn. Where you can usually count on some recovery from snow mold damage, dog spots are very effective at killing grass. The best course of action is to remove the dead grass, break up the soil with a hand trowel or rake and re-seed the area. Note: Seed will not germinate and grow if a pre-emergence herbicide is to be used. The exception to this rule is when Tenacity or Siduron herbicides are used. Consult with a lawn care professional for more information about these products.


Man's best friend.  Undoubtedly charming, but damaging to grasses.

Salt damage
De-icing materials that contain sodium can be quite harmful to turf. Brown patches or areas of turf along driveways, sidewalks, or streets could be caused from salt damage. Depending on the severity of damage, reseeding may be necessary. Aerification and watering (or rainfall) can help flush salts through the soil profile and improve the conditions of the site.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Nick Dunlap
Undergraduate Research Assistant



April 1, 2013

Here are a couple more pictures from Ken Siems, Supt. of Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club in Moscow, Russia.  I posted on this in March.  Ken has unusually heavy snow cover on his golf course for this late in the season.  The grass appears to be healthy under the snow cover (see the second picture below taken this week), but the snow cover is hanging on well into April.  The forecast for the next week is for temperatures above freezing in the day time and below freezing at night.  His question relates to whether he should remove the remaining snow.

My experience tells me that he should not try to remove the snow.  We generally tend to do more damage by removing snow than by leaving it on.  However, this is very late in the season.  This is about as long as I have ever seen that much snow hang on into April.  (He did apply snow mold controls before snow cover)

I have recommended that he do some research on this.  I would like to see him remove snow in some areas and leave it on in other areas and then send us some pictures and observations on the results.

I'll keep you posted.  Any comments on this would also be appreciated.




December 8, 2012

I posted some pictures from Derek Settle a few days ago about early snow mold developing because of the unusual weather conditions.  This seems to be a growing problem.  Many superintendents put down covers at the usual time in November and then found that the unusually warm weather is resulting in pink snow mold way earlier than they are used to seeing it.

Here are some pictures from this week from my son Tim at Makray in Chicago.  They covered some newly seeded bentgrass tees to bring them in quickly.  This pink snow mold is on the mature bent surrounding the tees that was under the cover.

He rolled the covers back yesterday and put on a snow mold treatment.


Pink Snow Mold Treatment



September 14, 2010

Here is another post that just came in on the loss of PCNB and potential replacements for this fungicide. It is from Dr. Joe Vargas at Michigan State.


As most of you know by now, PCNB may not be available this year, or in the future, for snow mold control due to a cancelation by the EPA. The law does allow distributors to sell any PCNB that they have in stock. It also allows golf courses to use any PCNB that they have in stock. What the EPA ruling does is prohibit the manufacturers from selling anymore PCNB to distributors or anyone else. Because we felt this would eventually happen, and for other reasons, we at MSU have been conducting studies in Northern Michigan at Tree Tops Resort and at the HTRC in East Lansing in search of PCNB replacements. The following suggestions for alternatives to managing snow mold without PCNB are based on 20 years of research. There may also be other fungicide combinations that may have similar efficacy, but these listed here are the combinations we have had success with over the years. Many of the fungicide combinations listed below already come as prepackaged combination products.

Snow Mold Species

There are two basic types of snow mold, Typhula blight, which is caused by two different species, and Microdochium Patch. Typhula incarnata, which is the major pathogen in southern Michigan and, during milder winters, in northern Michigan and Typhula ishikariensis, which is only found in Northern Michigan and is the most prevalent pathogen in more harsh winters are the two causes of Typhula blight in MI. Typhula sp. are more problematic on creeping bentgrass and perennial ryegrass. The other snow mold is Microdochium Patch, caused by Microdochium nivale, which is more of a problem in southern Michigan under snow cover. It is a problem throughout Michigan in the cool wet weather of spring and fall. Microdochium patch is more problematic on annual bluegrass.

Chemical Management

Below is an alphabetical list of snow mold fungicides based on their level of efficacy.

Fungicides listed by efficacy

Typhula blight control


  • Chlorothalonil
  • Fludioxonil


  • Myclobutanil
  • Propiconazole
  • Tebuconazole
  • Triadimefon
  • Triticonazole

Microdochium Patch Control


  • Azoxystrobin
  • Fluoxastrobin
  • Iprodione
  • Mancozeb
  • Pyraclostrobin
  • Thiophanate-methyl
  • Trifloxystrobin
  • Vinclozolin


  • Chlorothalonil
  • Polyoxin D Zinc Salt

Suggested fungicide combinations as alternatives to PCNB

The following are suggested fungicide combinations for snow mold control on greens and fairways in regions where snow does not cover the turf for long periods of time. These are also good alternatives for fairways where cost is a consideration, although complete control of the snow molds will not occur in years of severe pressure.

Chlorothalonil combination with:

  • Azoxystrobin or
  • Fluoxastrobin or
  • Iprodione or
  • Myclobutanil or
  • Propiconazole or
  • Pyraclostrobin or
  • Tebuconazole or
  • Thiophanate-methyl or
  • Triadimefon or
  • Triticonazole or
  • Vinclozolin or

The following are suggested fungicide combinations for snow mold control on greens and fairways in regions where permanent snow covers the ground for 3 or more months:

  • Azoxystrobin + Fludioxonil + Propiconazole
  • Azoxystrobin + Fludioxonil + Chlorothalonil
  • Fluoxastrobin + Chlorothalonil + Polyoxin D Zinc Salt
  • Myclobutanil + Fluoxastrobin + Chlorothalonil
  • Pyraclostrobin + Propiconazole+ Chlorothalonil
  • Tebuconazole + Chlorothalonil + Thiophanate-methyl + Polyoxin D Zinc Salt
  • Tebuconazole + Chlorothalonil + Iprodione
  • Triadimefon+ Fosetyl-Al + Iprodione
  • Triadimefon+ Fosetyl-Al + Trifloxystrobin
  • Triadimefon +Trifloxystrobin + Chlorothalonil
  • Triticonazole + Pyraclostrobin + Vinclozolin
  • Triticonazole + Pyraclostrobin + Chlorothalonil
  • Triticonazole+ Fosetyl-Al + Iprodione
  • Triticonazole + Fosetyl-Al + Trifloxystrobin

Pre-package 3 way mix

  • Instrata (Propiconazole + Chlorothalonil + Fludioxonil)

Dr. Joe Vargas, Michigan State



September 10, 2010

Here is some information for Dr. Jim Kerns, the new turf pathologist at the university of Wisconsin. It is the Wisconsin recommendations for snow mold treatments for this winter if PCNB is not reinstated.

From Jim Kerns:

Here is what we've developed for superintendents in Wisconsin as substitutes for PCNB.

1. Good: 2 oz Thophanate-methyl + 5.5 oz chlorothalonil (this is a great mixture for pink snow mold and moderate gray snow mold pressure)

2. Better: 4 oz iprodione + 5.5 oz chlorothalonil (once again great for pink snow mold and moderate gray snow mold pressure 2 oz propiconazole (microemulsion formulations) + 0.3 to 0.5 oz Medallion (excellent for high pressure sites, but it fairly expensive)

3. Best: 4 oz iprodione + 5.5 oz chlorothalonil + 2 oz propiconazole (microemulsion formulation) 4 oz iprodione + 5.5 oz chlorothalonil + 0.72 oz propiconazole (concentrated EC formulation)

4. Supreme: 7 to 9 oz Instrata 4 to 6 oz Interface + 2 oz propiconazole (microemulsion formulation)

Other pathologists are also putting together recommendations. I will post those as they become available.



September 9, 2010

Here is some important information from Dave Berg of Reinders, Inc. It is about the 'stop sale' order on PCNB just before the snow mold season.

In the past 72 hours, the professional turf industry has been made aware of an alarming situation regarding the availability of Amvac's PCNB fungicide. The attached letter from Amvac dated 9-7-10 describes the current situation regarding the EPA's 'Stop Sale' order on PCNB. In short, PCNB is not available today from Amvac and most likely will not be available for the 2010 fall season without a sudden and unexpected reversal by the EPA. Amvac already sought emergency injunctive relief in federal court over the weekend and was denied.

This stop sale order refers only to Amvac and the PCNB products is their possession. Current PCNB inventories of distributors, dealers, and end-users is not affected and may be sold and applied this fall. Per Amvac, virtually the entire 2010 season's new inventory for all U.S. distribution is still on the docks and can not be shipped. This action has caught everyone by surprise and needless to say all distributors are vigorously weighing options to replace PCNB and deliver cost-effective solutions for the industry.

We will share any new developments as they become known.

Dave Berg

Business Mgr

Reinders, Inc.


Here is the letter from AMVAC, makers of PCNB.

September 7, 2010
To: Terraclor, Turfcide and ParFlo Customers - United States
Re: PCNB – Stop Sale

Dear Valued Customers:

As you may have read from our press releases, last month the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a stop sale order with respect to our PCNB product line within the United States on the ground that our product contained a trace impurity that is not listed on our confidential statement of formula (CSF). We were shocked and surprised at the order, as it was issued without any advance warning just as our main selling season was starting and related to an impurity about which we had notified the agency nearly 20 years ago.

By way of background, under FIFRA for each registered compound, a registrant is required to list in its CSF all components that either (i) constitute at least 0.1% (1 part per 1,000) of the compound or (ii) are determined by EPA to be of toxicological significance. In 1993, we informed EPA that our PCNB manufacturing process yielded a trace impurity. It was unclear then (as now) whether this impurity had to be listed on a CSF. The agency took that information without further comment. In 1998 and then again in 2005, that agency approved our CSF for PCNB without making mention of any of the trace impurity. Last June, we engaged in discussions with USEPA about our CSF with a focus on impurities and embarked upon what we thought would be a mutual effort to assess purity levels, manufacturing processes and our CSF disclosure.
Without furnishing any technical analysis, notice or opportunity to explain our position, the agency stopped sale of our product in August. Bear in mind that the stop sale order did not include any contention that our product poses any risk to health or the environment. Indeed we are talking about an impurity of less than 10 parts per billion or 0.000001%. We promptly called for meetings with USEPA to hammer out an informal resolution, but quickly determined that the matter had been effectively handed off to government lawyers.

In the interest of protecting our business and saving our season, we filed a motion for emergency
relief from the stop sale with the federal court arguing, among other things, that the issuance of the order amounted to the taking of our property without due process. Last Thursday, however, that court denied our motion. In making his ruling, the judge noted that although the agency’s actions were troubling and Amvac had been treated unfairly, the agency was legally permitted to take this action.

At this stage, we plan to amend our CSF and work as expeditiously as possible with USEPA to get this stop sale removed. We will also continue down the path of further litigation, as we continue to believe that the order is an abuse of process. However, there is no guarantee that the agency (or a court) will work through this issue in less than four months (which they are permitted under applicable law). As a result, we are not confident that we will be able to ship product to our customers in time for turf application in the late Fall and Winter of 2010. We sincerely apologize in advance if we are unable to supply your needs in time for your application. Nevertheless, we thought it best to give you ample time to protect your business interests as we work on this matter. We will, of course, keep you apprised of material developments as we learn of them.

Thank you for your understanding and support. We look forward to continuing to serve you when this storm passes. For your reference, we are also including a copy of our latest press release on the subject. If you have questions on the continuing status of this matter, please contact Jeff Alvis at 817.742.7423. If you would like us to send this note to anyone else in your organization, please contact Glen Anderson at 888.462.6822.