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Learning curve

One superintendent's trusted standby tool for completing a job is another's new-fangled gadget that takes a lot of getting used to.

Golfers at Monterey Pines don't have a problem with annual bluegrass, but superintendent Austin Daniells does.For years, superintendents through much of the country have been leaning on flurprimidol, the active ingredient in Cutless, to control growth and seeding of annual bluegrass in creeping bentgrass putting greens. Many of their colleagues in California, where the chemistry only has been OK'd for sale for the past two years, are still getting acclimated to it.
Austin Daniells at Monterey Pines, a U.S. Navy golf course in Monterey, has been using Cutless since it was approved in 2014. He says he's still tinkering with full rates, half rates and using it in combination with various nutritional products to help promote the bentgrass.
"I think I've probably been the most aggressive with it in this area, but I had a good stand of bentgrass to start with," he said. 
"The Poa can't fight off the bentgrass. The bentgrass just comes right up through the middle of it. I never saw that before."
Producing a naturally healthy stand of bentgrass helps Daniells save elsewhere, including on fungicide applications. That's a bonus for a modest golf course that is surrounded by some of the country's most renowned layouts.
"If I can manage the bentgrass and limit my fungicide use, I'm going to do that," Daniells said. "(Bentgrass) is a better surface to play on than a mixed stand.
"My Poa troubles are mine personally. Golfers here aren't like Oh my gosh!. There's Poa out here.' They're paying 20 to 30 bucks to play golf. They just want to play golf."
About 60 miles north of Monterey Pines in Los Gatos, Kevin Breen also has been working with flurprimidol to control Poa annua at La Rinconada Country Club.
He has used other PGRs to help manage Poa in the past, but began using flurprimidol as soon as it was approved for use in California.
As with any herbicide, Breen said it is important to be accurate when estimating the percentage of Poa in the A4/T1 greens at La Rinconada, which is just south of San Jose.
"You have to be conservative. You don't want to underestimate how much Poa you have, because it has a real strong effect," Breen said. 
To that end, Breen has been taking it slow, primarily with the half rate. That program hasn't eliminated any Poa, but it has helped him manage it.
"I'm using the half-rate, trying slowly to convert so I'm not compromising playing conditions," Breen said. "I haven't gone high enough to kill it, and I don't know if I could anyway. It's like the Freddie Krueger of grass: Just when you think it's dead, you turn around and there it is again. It just keeps coming back."

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