Golf Course Management

JUL 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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gcm ex t ra Suggesting that wetting agents can be separated in terms of performance on the basis of the age of their chemistry is misleading at best. Localized dry spot is not uniformly distributed throughout greens and generally occurs where turf is undergoing the most stress. Photo by F. Wong wetting agents as having "new" chemistry. The implication (intended or not) is that the old chemistries are inferior to the new chemistries. I don't believe any chemistry or product in any area of our lives should automatically be considered outdated or inferior simply because of age. In fact, some of the older chemistries that are still being used today in turfgrass management are among our most reliable. Take, for instance, 2,4-D (commercially released in 1946) and carbaryl (Sevin, released in 1958). Consider chemicals such as copper sulfate (1760) or sulfur dust (1824) that have been used as fungicides. Or one of the most widely used turf fungicides today, chlorothalonil, which was frst registered in 1966. The fact that these chemistries have been around so long is a testament to their effectiveness and value to turfgrass managers. Suggesting that wetting agents can be separated in terms of performance on the basis of the age of their chemistry is misleading at best. In fact, speaking from 30 years of working with wetting agents, I know of several "old" chemistry wetting agents that are every bit as effective as wetting agents having a "new" chemistry. The effectiveness of the chemistry depends on several factors such as the degree of soil water repellency or even the amount of soil organic 72 GCM July 2013 matter. Less derogatory terminology might be "earlier" or "previous" chemistries. Are superintendents enamored with wetting agent chemistry? The superintendent I spoke to at GIS was not the frst to raise the chemistry issue with me. I receive phone calls, emails and questions during my wetting agent lectures asking about the chemistries of specifc wetting agents. I began to wonder how widespread was this interest in the chemistry of wetting agents. With the help of the GCSAA education staff, a pre-seminar questionnaire was sent to 257 registrants in my four seminars at GIS this year. One of the questions was, "How important is knowing the chemical composition of a wetting agent you are about to purchase?" The choices were (a) very important, (b) somewhat important, (c) not important. Although this was far from a scientifc poll, I simply wanted some feel for the signifcance of this issue. Was it something that needed to be discussed during my seminars, especially my wetting agent seminar? There were 129 replies to this particular question, which is a 50 percent response rate. Forty-eight percent of respondents indicated that knowing the chemical composition of a wetting agent was very important, while 50 percent indicated it was somewhat important and 2% said it was not important. Thus, 98 percent of respondents believe that knowing the chemical composition of a wetting agent holds some level of importance. I had to ask myself, "Why?" Wetting agent classification systems? Answers to other questions on the questionnaire indicated that a chemical classifcation system of wetting agents published by some wetting agent companies may have had some infuence on their purchasing decisions. For clarifcation, these classifcation systems are based on the known or suspected chemistries of certain wetting agents, and the published charts usually provide the mode of action or performance characteristics for each class of chemistries listed. The intention of such a classifcation system is to provide the turfgrass manager a guide to the expected performance of a wetting agent. In other words, knowing the chemical properties of a wetting agent should assist a turfgrass manager in selecting the wetting agent that best fts his or her needs. To my knowledge, there is no scientifcally published classifcation system for

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