Search results

Iowa Turfgrass Field and Demo Day

August 24, 2017

The annual Iowa Turfgrass Field and Demo Day will be Sept. 12, 2017 at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station 55519 170 St. Ames, IA 50010. Registration starts at 8:00 am with coffee and donuts. Education will begin at 9:00 a.m. with three area's of focus: Golf Course, Sports Turf, and Lawn Care. Attendee's will be free to travel between area's of focus. The event will showcase the newest cultivars of turfgrass and how they perform in Iowa, cultivation demonstrations, how to recover a putting green from the summer, new aerification devices, a session on what's bugging your lawn, how to prune a tree, a weed identification tour, a comparison of lawn fertility products, and ask the expert time slots. Also for those looking for Pesticide Applicators Certification and Education that is available for Categories 3-O, 3-T, and 3-OT. A lunch will be provided with registration. After lunch demonstrations of various turf equipment will take place, so feel free to check out the newest in turfgrass equipment. To register go to:  and register. We hope to see all of you on September 12! 


Bentgrass recovery from the summer will be on display at the Field Day.
Come see various methods of recovery from Pythium damage.


New aerificaiton methods will be on display.
New methods of battling compaction will be on display at Field Day.


Learn about turfgrass variety differences in Iowa.
Check out differences in turfgrass performance.


Chinch Bugs in Iowa

July 12, 2018

In recent weeks there have been a few sightings of Chinch bugs in Iowa. The lawn in the pictures is in Cedar Rapids. Typically damage is in open sunny locations in the yard. These insects can be present in great numbers in the yard over 150 per square foot. In this yard both the nymphs and adults were present. The adult is very small, and they are often found in the thatch of the yard. Adults are about 1/6 of an inch long with white wings that fold over their back flat. On the wing is a small black triangular spot. The nymphs are smaller than a pinhead and are a red color with a white band on the back. Chinch bug damage will happen in June through August, and often is not noticed due to coinciding with drought conditions in lawns. Both the nymph and adult will feed on the turfgrass, and they tend to feed on all typical species used in lawns. 

Figure 1. Chinch bug damage in a lawn
Figure 1. Chinch bug damage in a lawn in Cedar Rapids in late June.

Figure 2. Adult chinch bug, notice the wings laying flat on the back
Figure 2. Adult chinch bug, notice the flat wings and distinctive pattern on the back.

Figure 3. Chinch bug nymph in a Iowa lawn
Figure 3. Chinch bug nymph with its distinctive red color and very small size. Often found in the thatch layer. 

Figure 4. Turfgrass damaged and yellow colored from chinch bug feeding
Figure 4. Chinch bug damage on turfgrass, notice the yellow color from the toxins released by the chinch bugs feeding on the plant.




2018 Turfgrass Field Day

September 14, 2018

The 2018 Turfgrass Field Day was held in conjunction with the Iowa Turfgrass Institute on September 11th 2018 at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station near Gilbert, IA. Perfect weather was present for the day, and this year marked Dr. Christians 40th Turfgrass Field Day. Almost 200 were in attendance for education, networking, and demonstrations from various vendors. Four education sections were offered including: golf course management, professional lawn care, sports turf management, and pesticide applicator training. Attendees were able to see the research being conducted at Iowa State University in the turfgrass program.

2018 Turfgrass Field Day opening remarks
Opening remarks for the 2018 Turfgrass Field Day.

Ben Pease presenting on his Ph.D. research on changes in turf when subjected to traffic
Ben Pease presenting to the sports turf crowd on how the turfgrass plant changes with traffic.

Adam Thoms presenting on topdressing for putting greens.
Adam Thoms discussing the putting green topdressing research at Iowa State.

Nick Christians and Isaac Mertz share the latest findings in Kentucky bluegrass variety trials.
Nick Christians and Isaac Mertz share the latest findings in Kentucky bluegrass variety trials.

Dr. Nair discusses herbicide damage to vegetables.
Dr. Ajay Nair discusses common herbicide damage on tomatoes and what to look for.

AJ Lindsey showing off a natural herbicide trial to the lawn care group.
AJ Lindsey showing off a natural herbicide trial to the lawn care managers group.

Robotic painters demonstrated how to use GPS to paint an athletic field.
Robotic painters, including the Turf Tank pictured above, demonstrated how they can paint athletic fields with simple GPS coordinates.


Dr. Nick Christians

Nick Christians Photo
Area of Expertise: 
turfgrass education, fertility, natural herbicides

Update on New Sports Turf Research Area

September 14, 2015

Here is an update on the new sports turf research area at the Horticulture Research Station at Iowa state.  It is a time lapse from May 1 until the 2nd week of September.  Everything is now seeded and the new grass is coming in fast.  Dan was able to mow some of it this week.

If anyone would like to stop out and see it, let me know.



Seeding of New Sports Turf Research Area

August 18, 2015

The final grading of the new research area was completed on August 14.  Thanks to Derek York of Bush Turf for bringing in laser guided equipment to get it just right.  The seeding took place on Saturday and Sunday the 15th and 16th.  It is now completely finished. Thanks as well to Chance and Stacee Millett who helped with the seeding. We are hoping that there are no heavy rains until the grass is up.  Dan will put up some go pro segments in a couple of weeks.  Anyone in the area that would like to see it can stop out any time 8 to 5 Monday through Friday.


Update On Sports Turf Research Area Construction

August 12, 2015

The construction of the new sports turf research area at the Iowa State Turfgrass Research Facility is going surprisingly well in spite of a very wet summer (See June 15 blog  The area has very good surface drainage and pretty good subsurface drainage.  Dan and Zach finished the irrigation system late last week and are in the process of settling the trenches and placing the sand on the sand-capped area..  On Friday of this week, Derek York of Bush sports turf will arrive to do the final grade.  Seeding will take place this weekend if the weather cooperates.  Stay tuned for further updates as the area is grown in.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this effort.


Iowa Turfgrass Field Day - July 23, 2015

July 2, 2015

Turfgrass Research is Highlight of July 23 Field Day near Ames

Homeowners and professionals will find turf tips on sod and pest management

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station is host for the annual Iowa Turfgrass Field Day, July 23, 2015, from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year’s program includes demonstration projects for those interested in lawn and turfgrass research presented by Iowa State University experts and ISU Extension and Outreach specialists. The annual event offered to golf course maintenance crews, athletic field managers, lawn care companies and homeowners present the opportunity for earning continuing instructional credit for their commercial pesticide applicator license.

“The field day will highlight athletic field and golf course turf, sod production, general lawn care and several other areas of turfgrass management,” said Dan Strey, research associate in horticulture with Iowa State University and turfgrass manager at the Horticulture Research Station north of Ames.

Strey noted, “We’re offering educational sessions for golf course, sports turf and lawn care professionals. Even homeowners and master gardeners can benefit from Iowa State’s lawn care research.” Learning opportunities for homeowners will feature use of Midwest grass species, different mowing heights, weed control, fertilization, thatch and aerification techniques and grass seeding options.

“Kentucky bluegrass is the most common grass species used for Iowa lawns,” according to Ryan Adams, lecturer and Extension turfgrass specialist with Iowa State University. “The best time of the year to sow grass seed is mid-August and September. Iowans have become accustomed to using the same treatments for every lawn even though they may have different grass species and maintenance requirements,” Adams said.

Specific topics for the master gardener and homeowner program include fertilizing with organics, pollinators, ash tree replacements, mowing maintenance, grass alternatives, rain barrel irrigation, pest management and tour of a home demonstration garden.

ISU scientists and Extension specialists from horticulture, agronomy, plant pathology and entomology as well as visiting certified sports field managers will offer expert advice for turf, lawn and landscape professionals. Research information presented will include herbicide and rhizomatous tall fescue studies. There will also be a chance to view a variety of trials on creeping bentgrass, buffalograss, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass.

Presentation topics for turf professionals include, information on the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program and working with administrators, research results on ornamental grasses and rhizomatous tall fescues, treatment options using Group 27 herbicides, T-1 green management, fertilizers, phosphites, Integrated pest management, mitigating localized dry spot and diseases, maximizing granular and foliar applications. There will also be examples of sports field construction, golf course mound building, level lift and irrigation tips and options for ash tree replacements. Field day demonstrations will highlight fraise mowing and painting athletic fields. See the

program schedule for sessions and presenters.

Pesticide Applicator Training sessions start at 10 a.m. and include, Drift Reduction/Calibration/Safe Application, Phytotoxicity, Weed Walk and Right-of-Way. Continuing instructional credits are being offered to certified pesticide applicators for recertification of commercial or private licenses in categories 3O (Ornamental Pest), 3T (Turf Pest), 3OT (Ornamental and Turf Pest), 6 (Right-of-Way) and 10 (Research and Demonstration).

Registration Options

Check in opens at 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 23 at the ISU Horticulture Research Station, 55519 170th St. Ames, IA 50010, program sessions begin at 8:45 a.m. and pre-registration is preferred.

·         Homeowners and gardeners registration fee is $30. To pre-register, download, print and complete the registration form, and send with payment to the Iowa Turfgrass Institute office at 515-635-0306 or Registration after July 20 is $40.

·         Turf and lawn care professionals must pre-register using the on-site registration form; cost is $30. If registering for the Pesticide Applicator Training (PAT), cost is $50.

·         Student registration cost is $10; with PAT: $30.

All registration fees include morning refreshments, a catered lunch by Hickory Park and session materials. Credit cards, purchase orders and checks made payable to Iowa Turfgrass Institute are accepted.Questions? Contact the Iowa Turfgrass Institute office at 515-635-0306 or

Iowa State University sponsors the field day in cooperation with Iowa Turfgrass Institute, Iowa Professional Lawn Care Association, Iowa Golf Course Superintendents Association and Iowa Sports Turf Managers Association.


Related links:

Yard and Garden FAQs — Lawns

Iowa Master Gardener Program

iaTURF: A Glimpse of All Things Green

Related publications:

Click for related Turfgrasspublications at the ISU Extension and Outreach online Store.



Photo Caption & Credit:

Grading of the new athletic field at the ISU Horticulture Research Station will be one of the presentations at the upcoming Turfgrass Field Day, July 23.

Find out what grass species to use in Iowa and which are native to North America (Kentucky bluegrass isn’t one them) at the next Turfgrass Field Day, July 23.

Photos by Christopher Gannon, Iowa State University


Windmill Grass Rears Its Ugly Head

June 17, 2015

Here are a couple of pictures of Windmill grass (Choris verticillata) from Larry Ginger of American Lawn Care in Des Moines, Ia.  This warm-season grass is fairly new to Iowa, but I get more questions on it every year.  As it matures, it will form a large, open seedhead that looks a little like a windmill.  It spreads by stolons and by seed and increases every year in this area, particularly along city streets and on south facing slopes.  The seedhead will detach from the plant at maturity and roll over the turf like a tumble weed to spread its seed.  This is the main reason that it has spread so quickly. 


Roundup will kill it, but that will also kill the other lawn grasses.  Tenacity (mesotrione) is also labeled for it, but you will need to be persistent to completely remove it.

Search this blog for early articles on this species.

Here is a closeup of the seed head as it will appear in late summer.

Here is a comment from Doug Schryver of Sterling, IL o



     I just wanted to comment on your post about Windmill Grass. One of my duties at the Park District in Sterling Illinois is Turf Management and I’ve read where the only herbicide that is recommended for Windmill Grass is Tenacity. I live in rural Whiteside County (northwest Illinois) and the soil in our neighborhood is very sandy and I’ve noticed a lot of Windmill Grass in the area. About three years ago most of our front yard was Windmill Grass and I decided to try to rid the yard of it. Each spring I usually would use a de-thatcher on the yard until I realized that it was actually just mixing the seed from the Windmill Grass into the soil and opening up the soil to the seed, so I no longer de-thatch. I used Tenacity on the yard in three sequential applications 7-10 days apart and had good luck controlling the weed. At that point our yard was very thin in that area so the rest of the season I would physically pull any Windmill Grass plants that I would see along with collecting any seed heads that would roll into the yard from a neighbor. That fall I overseeded the area with Barenbrug 50/50 RPR (Kentucky Blue/Regenerating Perennial Rye) at 7 #/m and I was able to establish a very thick carpet of turf. Now I mow at 3” height of cut, twice a week and I’m very diligent about pulling any kind of weed and collecting any seed heads when I see them and fertilizing on a regular schedule to keep a thick canopy of turf to prevent the Windmill Grass from gaining a foot hold. It was a lot of work for about a year but now I’m very happy with the result! Some of my neighbors have noticed and have asked how I got rid of that pesky weed.


                                                Doug Schryver