Scouting Report: May 14th

Rich Harvest Farms and other facilities are prepping for tournament season.

Tournament preparations are underway for some folks in Illinois. Rich Harvest Farms is getting tournament ready for the upcoming NCAA Championships. Other tournaments are popping up all over from qualifier events to member guest tournaments.

Tree lined fairways at the Country Club of Peoria.

A Wednesday trip to Peoria was the first spring day this year that I could tell summer was approaching. On this particular day, temps were above 80 and dew points were in the 60’s. I noticed something else too. Trees are leafing out and shade patterns are expanding. Not only do trees block sunlight, they also prevent much needed air movement when dew points begin to rise.

Further north, dew points were the last thing on the minds of golf course superintendents. The temperature extremes across the state were impressive (or depressive) this week.

Observed air temperatures on Tuesday. Courtesy of tropical tidbits.

Illinois was cut in half earlier this week. The state is 370 miles long north to south. On Tuesday, the temperature in the bottom portion of the state was near 85 degrees, while those in the northern areas were in the upper 40’s. Some of this is just the effects of seasonal climatology. However, this was also a warm front that stalled directly across Illinois.

Observed air temperature anomaly on Tuesday. Blue is colder than average and red is warmer than average. Courtesy of tropical tidbits.

Those to the north were well below seasonal averages and those to the south were above averages. Illinois experienced among the warmest and coldest air temperature anomalies in the Midwest this week. This is not only apparent when looking at temperature maps, but also when calculating growing degree days.

Accumulated growing degree days from May 7th — May 12 in selected cities. Data courtesy of weather underground.

This growing degree day chart provides another visual cue of the environmental differences in each area of the state. No matter which area you are located in, turf agronomic problems were still apparent.

Those to the north of the warm front were asking their turf to grow. Growth is important this time of year to help heal in aerification holes or to grow-in a spring establishment.

Those south of the warm front may have had a hard time keeping up with the roughs. Temperatures were near optimal for growth of cool-season grasses in the southern areas. This is normally great news, but this is also where flooding rains occurred. The wet soils in non-drainage areas makes it difficult to mow 60+ acres of roughs.

Observed rainfall on Wednesday-Thursday in the Midwest region.

Most of the rain this week fell on Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. The big winner (or loser) was in area near Effingham where more than 2.0 inches of rain fell.

This precipitation, not only produces short term frustrations, but it may also have lasting effects throughout the summer. These issues and recent pest activity will be discussed in this report.


Growing degree days for poa seedhead flush. Courtesy of

Poa seedheads are abundant in and around the Chicago area. I am beginning to see a small reduction in seedheads further south towards Peoria. Some superintendents have observed poor to variable control of seedheads this year. This may have been due to earlier than usual application timing and the number of applications needed to maintain suppression.

Promising annual bluegrass control programs on a research putting green.

Last week I visited a golf course that maintains a bentgrass/annual bluegrass research green. It appears Dr. Bruce Branham is developing some promising annual bluegrass control programs. I look forward to learning more about this research.

Other weeds that I am concerned about is crabgrass and goosegrass breakthrough. This is due to the amount of rainfall in locations that have high populations of these weeds. Rain or irrigation after a pre-emergent spray is required for penetrating that active ingredient into the soil column. However, too much rain post application can lead to the decay of these compounds. Dr. Travis Gannon and co-authors published a quick note on this subject in 2015.

Essentially, sloped areas of turf grown on high sand content rootzones are most susceptible to the movement of herbicides. On golf courses, areas around greens or bunker faces meet this criteria.

On the topic of goosegrass, researchers have observed germination of this grassy weed. Most recent reports include germination in areas of the Mid-south and as far north as New Jersey.


Many golf courses have made applications of insecticide to fairways and roughs. A popular product has been the use of an insecticide (chlorantraniliprole for example) in combination with granular fertilizer.

Although not technically an insect, ticks are becoming prevalent in the great lakes region. Many experts are predicting higher populations of ticks this year due to the mild winter/spring. Ticks can transmit diseases to both humans and dogs.

Now is the time to be mindful about these critters. Ticks are often located in tall grass areas. The tall grass areas being managed on golf courses are just now starting to get…tall.


A few new reports of plant diseases came in this week.

Oomycete diseases were observed this week. Fun fact about the oomycetes is that they are not technically fungi. They are more closely related to algae and cyanobacteria than fungal organisms.

Stand symptoms of yellow tuft disease.

In the Chicago area, I observed the disease yellow tuft on a creeping bentgrass fairway. Affected plants appear pale green and can be easily pulled out from the ground.

Excessive tillering is a diagnostic trait of yellow tuft.

The affected plants also have a witches broom appearance with a large number of tillers. This disease, despite being related to Pythium diseases, can be a ‘watch and see’ type of disease. It usually doesn’t kill its’ host.

Further south, I did observe the presence of Pythium oospores embedded in creeping bentgrass roots. Pythium root rot and Pythium root dysfunction are two diseases that affect the roots of creeping bentgrass putting greens. Root rot occurs under saturated soil conditions. This disease often first appear in the low spots of the green. Dr. Lee Miller recently commented on Pythium root rot in the latest Missouri pathology report.

Managing soil moisture is critical in alleviating root rot or root dysfunction symptoms. The use of TDR probes can help maintain adequate soil moisture levels. Sole reliance of overhead irrigation may not be advisable.

Fortunately there are fungicides that are currently labelled for control of Pythium root rot. Many researchers have seen suppression using strobilurin fungicides and other specialty products like Subdue Maxx, Segway, and Chipco Signature among others. During my post at the University of Tennessee, we have had some success with a few of these compounds. It is important to water in these materials immediately.

Fungicide drenches are a useful tool in managing root diseases such as PRR.

Outside of oomycete diseases, I did hear reports of pink snow mold in areas from Chicago to as far south as Peoria.

Pink snow mold was once again active in Illinois. Courtesy Dan Dinelli.

Last week, yellow patch was prevalent on many creeping bentgrass putting greens in areas north of Chicago. This week this disease finally made an appearance at the Midwest Golf House.

The Sunshine course at the Midwest Golf House had symptoms of yellow patch this week.

Fungicide applications are most likely not necessary against this disease. If you are considering a foliarly applied fungicide, consider a product that also has efficacy against dollar spot.

Dollar spot appeared to be active at the Sunshine course this week.

This is the first dollar spot infection center that I’ve personally seen at the Midwest Golf House this spring. It appears to have been active within the past couple of weeks.

Lastly, Kentucky bluegrass roughs finally cashed in the disease action.

Kentucky bluegrass is susceptible to leaf spotting diseases in the spring and fall months.

Leaf spotting diseases can be pretty common on Kentucky bluegrass roughs during spring and fall. Although these diseases don’t usually cause a massive loss of turf, thinning of turf stands can occur. At most, it may be beneficial to make a partial spray pass into the immediate rough areas that line fairways. Another good practice is removing clippings. This is even more effective when lesion development is occurring on the top portion of the leaf blade.

The weather moving forward looks to be quite warm. Temperatures in the 80’s with increasing rain chances towards the end of the week. Soil temperatures should scoot above 70 degrees in southern Illinois and above 60 degrees in the northern portion of the state. Those with a history of summer patch on annual bluegrass should plan their drench applications soon.

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