My email and phone are blowing up these days with golf turf questions, comments, reports, inquiries about the record early Spring conditions. Golf course superintendents are asking about seedhead suppression timing with Proxy and Primo,wondering about soil temperatures and summer patch preventative control, and most importantly in the northeast US, annual bluegrass weevil sitings. With each of these issues, the old saying holds-timing is everything.
Seedhead suppression is among the most timing specific management practices employed on a modern golf course. Many feel if ideal is missed by a day it mean the difference between 30 percent and 80 percent suppression. The introduction of Proxy PGR several years ago allowed for application to made earlier with less injury than was associated with Embark and old standby PGR.
The addition of Primo to the Proxy application not only enhanced seedhead suppression but extended the suppression, reduced the scalping associated with too many Proxy applications, and most importantly based on Rutgers research significantly reduced basal rot anthracnose as the season progressed.
Some have embraced the Embark plus Primo combination that can be applied later than Proxy and provided longer suppression. Also the addition of Primo has lessened the injury previously observed with Embark and as long as the Primo program is continued anthracnose will be reduced.
The problem du-jour of the early 1990s was summer patch. Properly characterized by Professor Pete Landschoot during his Ph.D. studies with Professor Noel Jackson at URI this root pathogen was about to spell the end of annual bluegrass. Professor Bruce Clarke and colleagues at Rutgers as well as Professor Joe Vargas at MSU began research projects that identified preventative options for an early Spring DMI fungicide drench and as important the use of acidifying fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate to reduce summer patch infection in the early Spring. In either case, research shows applications to the rootzone when soil is 65F at 2 depth.
For the next 15 years or so summer patch literally became a non-issue in many areas until the 2010 and 2011 historic growing seasons across the US created summer stress periods that exposed weaknesses in control programs. We were lulled into a false sense of security, lowered application rates, played fast and loose with timing and boom goes the dynamite. We were reminded again that under stress annual bluegrass cannot survive well with a seriously compromised root system.
Finally, annual bluegrass weevil. The latest crisis in pest management in certain sections of the northeast and now all the way to the Carolinas and west to Michigan. Where to spray? Fence-lines or loops around fairways and greens or the whole place? When? forsythia, rhododenrdron bloom? What? pyrthroid-resistance, chlorpyrifos, adulticide, larvacide? Overlapping generations? what is causing the damage? Obviously more questions than solid answers at this point.
This is the one pest that will keep traditional IPM scouting alive and well. Soap flushes, checking web-based prediction, talking to your colleagues. All will help you be successful, but like all the strategies mentioned above timing is everything. Scout diligently and apply products strategically. We know turf loss is often worst on perimeters so be sure to maintain uniform irrigation to these areas.
We may as well get used to the new reality of longer seasons that could mean increased revenue for some and nothing but more stress for others. No matter how this effects you one fact cannot be denied, the golf course superintendent is more important than ever to a successful golf operation.
Its a great time to be a superintendent. Timing is everything!