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Hard Year in Kansas City

July 10, 2009

Throughout the 2009 season, we have experienced lots of extremes, both in weather and disease. The year started out extremely warm in January through March, with soil temps reaching close to 60 degrees. This rise in temps fell off soon after aerification and remained throughout April and into May. Since then temperatures have soared and so has disease. There have been many cases and outbreaks of Pythium, Zeae, dollar spot, brown patch and red thread. The heaviest cases coming from June 15th through the 29th when we had days in the upper 90's and lows in the mid to upper 70's (Picture on right shows extensive tracking lines from golf carts that had heavy mycelium growth in the morning and were like this by night fall the same day. They were sprayed later that morning with mancozeb and banol and no more activity was seen).

With the heat came a great deal of humidity and disease. Soil temps reached over 98 degrees and stayed there for a good 10+ days damaging many roots and leaving the grasses susceptible to pythium and root rot. Some practices used both at my course (Royal Meadows) and several other courses in the area were the use of a pull-behind Planet Aire. This machine slices tear-drop size slits in the green with minimal surface damage but can go 6 inches deep, done in the same time as a greens mowing with golfers barely noticing. It allowed us to manage our root-zone and keep the damaging water and moisture under control. Many superintendents use solid tines or spikers, but the speed and efficiency of the Planet Aire is second to none, a highly recommended machine to add to your collection.

As we have moved into the typical hot and disease prone months of July and August, the courses with cool-season fairways will have some interesting chemical and fertilizer purchases. With revenues down and temperatures up many course managers need to slash budgets, even when we as superintendents need to increase our spending for these difficult months. Some successful practices that I have seen on Bent/Poa fairways in Kansas City are as follows:

- Calibration of equipment, correct nozzles (AIC 11010vs) and proper rates (50 gal/acre for fairways)

- Use of generic pesticides when applicable (typically have less time between sprays, weather and products not sticking to plants as well, but huge cost savings!) If you would like a list of products that we have field tested and found as the best generics email me at

- Stress fighters and Phosphites (control of pythium by building larger cell walls and improving plant health)

- Spot Spraying in low areas for Pythium and other water prone diseases (pre disease is best) instead of broad applications that are extremely expensive

- The use of contacts and systemics, with rotations of different modes of actions, chemistries and formulations at different times of the year

- Growth Regulators, both for seed head suppression in the Spring and restricted/controlled growth in certain times of the year

- Above all is always being aware of your golf course, knowing each and every trouble spot, watching water usages, remember a dry golf course is a lot better than seeing a solid cotton field of disease

If you have any questions concerning your spray rig set-up, fungicide timing, application rates or even our fungicide program at Royal Meadows please let me know. It is a tough world out there with all of us constantly balancing our budgets and beauty of our golf courses.

Mark Newton
General Manager & Course Superintendent
Royal Meadows Golf Course