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Dr. Frank Rossi: Frankly Speaking

Happy New Chemistry

Posted in Tech Turf Talk 07 January 2013 · 2,635 views

We are entering the new year with many exciting trends in the turf chemical industry. Lower use rates, reduced risk, combination products, pigments and dyes, and of course plant health or induced systemic resistance.


Syngenta's move to include Acibenzolar (ASM) with Daconil (chlorothalonil) marked a major shift in thinking by one of the big three (Bayer, Syngenta, BASF). ASM is not a new molecule, in fact it has been widely used in the Ag market for several years. ASM has no measurable effect on plant pathogens; rather it induces the plant to resist disease. This approach is also espoused by the phosphites and Civitas.


BASF acquired Becker Underwood, a major manufacturer of pigments and dyes. This acquisition gets them in the turf market colorant game. Bayer continues to find combinations such as Reserve that is Trinity plus chlorothalonil and StressGard FT (Formulation Technology). The pigment market is getting crowded with Harmonizer, Turf Screen, and Foursome (a spray pattern indicator). You have to ask yourself why you got rid of all that Blazon that was sitting around the shop?


Secure from Syngenta is being touted as a contact fungicide partner to Daconil and could represent an important option for those interested in reducing (or at least complying with imposed reductions) their chlorothalonil use. Preliminary reports indicate great promise for this product.

What does this all mean to the golf turf industry? First, there will be significant hoopla and chatter in the run-up to the GIS next month..."

What does this all mean to the golf turf industry? First, there will be significant hoopla and chatter in the run-up to the GIS next month. Second, get ready to have all your spray rigs colored green if you get on the pigment and dye bandwagon. Third, finding ways to integrate these technologies into your existing programs should begin now. Check the data from reputable sources such as Professors Vincelli, Kerns, Kennelly, and Ingugiato.


Don't get caught up in the hype; there are likely more questions than answers about many of these new products. The claims will start flying around soon and before you know it what you hear may resemble what gets whispered to the 7th person in a circle that began with one thing and now is completely different.


Happy New Year!

Adapting a Solution

  Posted in Frank Talk 10 December 2012 · 2,283 views

As the end of the year draws near I find myself in a typical reflective mode. Im thinking big picture about my year, my life, my work and the industry and world I am so eagerly engaged. A world that saw many in our golf turf  industry turned upside down by a storm that thought it was in a NASCAR race and made a left hand turn.


Whether you believe that the climate is changing or not, you cannot escape the media blitz that inundates us with whys, wherefores and what ifs.  The media blitz and the effects of the storms are causing us all to reflect on how we must adapt to a world that is in flux.

our golf turf  industry was turned upside down by a storm that thought it was in a NASCAR race and made a left hand turn.

We are beginning to contemplate as humans what we will do as the climate changes, i.e., prohibit building on the coast, design stormwater management systems, etc. It seems we are moving away from discussing how to stem the tide of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, reducing our reliance on non-renewable energy sources, and in general lowering our footprint on this Earth.


I believe the golf industry (not just the turf folks) but the entire industry has a unique opportunity to become completely sustainable. Ed Brockner, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Golf Course Superintendents Association said in a meeting about golf and water quality, we should embrace the integrity of our game and call penalties on ourselves when it comes to environmental issues. I think he is right.


We should go one step further. We have large chunks of land that have water, wildlife, organic matter, green plants, productive soils, etc. We should view our courses as multi-functional landscapes that can produce food (large or small scale), produce energy (wind, hydro,solar,bio-fuel), help society deal with waste and also for stormwater management -- why cant a portion of a golf course serve as a bio-filtration system in urban areas to improve the quality of pre-used water?


Yes we must all adapt to the changing climate, but we should look forward to creative solutions not just to help golf be successful, but for golf to say, yes we are part of the problem, now we want to lead the way to a solution.


Desperate Times Desperate Measures?

  Posted in Frank Talk 17 November 2012 · 1,738 views

The growing concern over Bacterial Etiolation has raised the stakes on the already high stakes game of high intensity putting surface management. There is little doubt something is causing the decline and death of putting surface turf and the unknown is what has left many desperate for a solution.


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Desperation often can lead to questionable decisions. One such decision in my judgement is the off-label use of antibiotics. If you are wondering how bad this might turn consider the current situation in the golf turf industry in Australia.


During my recent visit to Sydney and Melbourne in late May-early June this year a golf course was cited by the Australian EPA for illegal use of a nematicide. A very prominent golf course that hosts PGA events has what can only be described as an insurmountable nematode infestation.


A simple story really. The club illegally applied a nematicide, a disgruntled employee informed the EPA, the club was fined, the superintendent (an excellent bloke by the way) released, and now a full-on investigation of the entire Australian golf turf industry is underway.

They (the EPA) are unimpressed with what their investigation is unearthing and they will be prosecuting individuals and clubs.

NSW Golf Course Superintendents Association president Craig Molloy said in a recent letter to members: They (the EPA) are unimpressed with what their investigation is unearthing and they will be prosecuting individuals and clubs. Clearly the entire golf turf industry in Australia is under siege.


Is this a harbinger of what may come to the US golf turf industry if we try to play fast and loose with off-label pesticides? If the US EPA finds that there is revenue in selective enforcement dont you think they will come knocking?


Desperate times DO NOT call for desperate measures, rather it calls for increased communication, increased attention to detail and bold (LEGAL) measures.

Selling Gypsum

  Posted in Frank Talk, Uncategorized 29 October 2012 · 2,272 views

Stuck in the house for the hurricane, waiting for the power to go off, I can honestly say it is dangerous to watch too much of the Weather Channel.  But I know they must be selling ad time like there is no tomorrow. Who knew you could have a generator at your house that could power a small city, or why I need to be in Good Hands or with my Good Neighbor, or have someone On My Side.

If I were selling ad time on The Golf Channel Id be calling all the major gypsum manufacturers and telling them if they place ads on the Golf Channel I can guarantee massive sales. I can hear the sales folks, many of whom I like, conceiving ways of selling something dirt cheap that has little effect on the problem for 300% profit.
Short term, everyone near the coast is screwed. The salt spray and flooding at this time of year is  like the cold blast of salt spray that our roadsides experience every winter. If flooding remains for any period of time, i.e., more than 12 hours  maybe longer if it is cooler and the soil it lands on is not saturated already  turf loss could be massive.

The salt spray and flooding at this time of year is like the cold blast of salt spray that our roadsides experience every winter

I assure you applying gypsum will not help. It wont hurt, but it wont help. Stay focused on the big stuff, i.e, getting rid of the salt water or flood water, work to remove silt or other debris, scratch the surface to prevent sealing from fines, and then give it a few days to dry and assess your loss.
If we get some sunny, windy weather the drying could move along nicely but this is ideal. Ask Rocco Greco of En Joie Golf Course in the southern tier of NY. Rocco and his staff worked nothing short of a miracle getting the course playable for a Senior Tour event last year after Hurricane Irene.
I am not positive, but I think if Rocco was asked what helped him he would say buying two firetrucks, not gypsum.

Be Safe, Have Sandy Do It.

  Posted in Uncategorized, Frank Talk 29 October 2012 · 1,929 views

As the east coast braces for the Hurricane Sandy, I had a thought as I was getting the farm ready for the storm. There are a few trees I want down but cannot convince my wife to agree. The I thought I had was why not have Sandy do it? I can use a chainsaw very quickly.


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A tree on my farm is more of an inconvenience than a problem. Yet I can hardly think of a golf course that does NOT need some strategic tree removal. Removal that is blocked by emotion and politics.


Year after year the turf struggles in the tucked locations. Fans can provide some benefit but natural light and air movement at least 3 mph at the ground surface makes the difference between a marginal putting surface and an excellent putting surface. For many this has been worse the last few seasons with intense climate changes of high temperatures and increased rainfall. More reason to modify the growing environment.


Posted ImageNow the last thing I would promote is for golf course superintendents and staff to be out and about in the storm. So for sure safety has to be the number one issue. No need to wander out into 30-50 mph sustained winds. However, when the worst of the storm is over before most of the world walks outside again, especially at this time of year, one never knows how the wind can blow, or the chainsaw turn.


Just between us, the tree that was an immovable object miraculously was felled by Sandy. Be SAFE.

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