Turfgrass Scouting Report: 3/14/18

This is the time of year that conference season is winding down and many folks are finishing up their winter projects. It has been great to follow along on social media and see the sheer number of projects taking place in the region. Many of these projects include shop renovations and clearing problematic trees from the course.

In conversation, I have said a number of times that if winter ended today, I feel many of the courses would be in fantastic shape as we head into spring. As of today, I haven’t heard or seen any major problems or concerns over winter related injury. I would imagine most trouble spots will be in low lying shaded areas where water settles, or in high sloped areas that can dry out rapidly on a cold windy day.

Having said that, March is one of those transition months and I would suspect that we are not finished with winter-like conditions. Looking ahead, temperatures should be seasonably cool for the next 10 days or so.

The abiotic and biotic stresses that we still have to monitor are potential crown hydration issues on annual bluegrass and opportunistic pest activity such as pink snow mold (Syn. Microdochium patch).

Snow mold activity has largely been kept in check. All of the snow mold I have observed has been pink snow mold. Gray snow mold needs snow cover to develop and requires an extended duration of continuous snow cover. Although, it wouldn’t shock me if there are a few isolated pockets of gray snow mold in NW Indiana where lake enhanced snow exists.

Moving forward, pink snow mold will likely come and go a half-dozen times before winter/spring is done with. Areas in the shade or on north facing slopes should be monitored first. Additionally, the use of any covers or growth blankets will provide a favorable environment for pink snow mold development.

Historically, the winter of 2017/2018 has been a very ‘average’ year for annual snowfall precipitation. However, most of our snow happened during a very busy travel week for many golf course superintendents.

The week during the Golf Industry Show brought upwards of 10–20 inches of snow to parts of Northern Illinois. Some areas in the south-side of Chicago enjoyed a 20-inch snow event and a 4-inch rain event in the same month. This weather pattern brought many new temporary water features to the golf course.

Fortunately, we have had a chance to dry out and continue with spring preparations. This is also the time we start taking action on preventative measures for annual bluegrass seedhead suppression if we haven’t done so already.

Many areas from Springfield, IL, and southward are in the ‘optimal’ range (green shading) for applying Proxy for seedhead suppression. Those in the NW corner of the state are still a little early according to this model. In addition to using growing degree day models, some folks choose to apply their Proxy applications after the 1st or 2nd mowing on greens or fairways.

Waiting to apply Proxy at the ‘boot’ stage can be very challenging. This takes into consideration all the different micro-environments on the golf course and the availability to make applications due to weather concerns (i.e. soils being too wet to spray). There is more success applying a little early than there is being late. There is also more success applying proxy late than doing nothing at all.

Those that applied products for seedhead suppression last fall have a little bit more of a cushion this spring. For those that did not make applications in the fall should be considering making applications soon. Some folks elect not to include Primo in the first spring application due to concerns with frost and discoloration.

Monitoring your application timing for crabgrass prevention should also be on the back of your minds. Crabgrass is among the most challenging annual weeds to combat in the southern part of the state. When it’s hot/dry in the summer, the crabgrass gains a tremendous advantage in the landscape and easily out-competes it’s cool-season counterparts. In the Chicago area, crabgrass is also becoming more problematic on low mown fairways (<0.400") and south facing bunker slopes.

Something else to consider is silvery thread moss control. On one of the experimental greens at the golf house, our giant moss specimen has come back and is suffocating the turf underneath of it. The product Quicksilver can be effective if multiple successive applications are made at three-week intervals. This is a relatively safe product when used at label rates. However, there have been reports of injury when Quicksilver is applied within 60 days of the pre-emergent herbicide Bensumec.

New CDGA turf website.

The CDGA Turfgrass Program is collaborating with our communications department in developing a new website (CDGAturf.org). This new website should be launched in June of 2018. This website will contain several new features including a Pest Alert system and access to our research summaries, written articles, and other pest management resources. One of the resources we will keep on the new website is access to prior scouting reports.

On a research note, we are currently looking for locations to conduct summer patch trials. Please send me an email (jbenelli@cdga.org) if your site has a prior history of summer patch and if you would be willing to house this research.

Twitter: CDGATurfgrassProgram

Email: jbenelli@CDGA.org

Dedicated researchers and turf pathologists working for golf course superintendents in the Chicago area.