Golf Course Management

FEB 2014

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

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32 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.14 The fungal pathogen Microdochium nivale is a signifcant cause of turfgrass disease in the northern United States and Canada, but par - ticularly in the Pacifc Northwest. The patho- gen, which may affect all cool-season grasses, causes pink snow mold, which develops under snow cover and becomes apparent when the snow melts. Microdochium patch is caused by the same pathogen but does not require snow cover to develop. Pink fungal spores may give turfgrass affected by either disease a pink - ish appearance. In the Pacifc Northwest, Microdochium patch occurs from September through May and may severely damage turf, adversely affect - ing play and the appearance of the golf course. At present, fungicide applications are the most effective means of control, but the costs are high, approximately $20,000 for one golf course during the time the disease is active. Pesticide bans and restrictions have be - come more common in the Pacifc North- west. For example, in Oregon, restricted-use pesticides cannot be applied on school prop - erty. Restrictions also apply to areas near pro- tected waterways. A golf course in Corvallis, Ore., where Oregon State University is located, cannot spray about 5 percent of its acreage, which is adjacent to the Willamette River. A wide buffer zone is required along the river to protect the spawning grounds of the steel - head salmon. Golf courses in Canada are generally ex - empt from the herbicide and pesticide bans that affect homeowners as long as licensed pes - ticide applicators make the applications. Brit- ish Columbia has not yet established pesticide laws that are as strict as those in Ontario and other provinces in eastern Canada. However, in March 2013, British Columbia amended its Integrated Pest Management Act so that the Minister of Environment can "develop regu - lations establishing lists of pesticides that may be regulated differently than other pesticides." The combination of a damaging turfgrass disease and the possibility of restrictions on the only products that offer adequate control has prompted great concern in the turf indus - try, particularly among superintendents who are ultimately responsible for golf course play - ing conditions. In response, research to identify fungicide alternatives for Microdochium patch control is taking place at Lewis Brown Horticulture Farm at Oregon State University in Corvallis and at the Washington State University Goss Research Farm in Puyallup. Graduate students Clint Mattox at Oregon State and Nathan Sta - cey at Washington State are doing much of the feld work, and assistant professor Alec Kow - alewski, Ph.D., and senior faculty research as- sistant Brian McDonald are also working on the project at Oregon State. Kowalewski says that preliminary trials in early 2013 identifed Civitas, Sulfur DF, iron sulfate and P-K Plus as possible effective treat - ments. Of the cultural treatments tested, roll- ing was most effective at reducing disease. Ex- periments were started in late September 2013 to examine the effcacy against Microdochium patch of winter applications of the above treat - ments, as well as iron and nitrogen applications and biocontrols. Other experiments involved daily rolling, removing dew with a brush and dew whip and frequent surfactant applications. Early results have been positive for some of the treatments, but the research will continue into the spring and will be repeated begin - ning in fall 2014 before results are offcially re- leased. Applications of high rates of sulfur and iron sulfate are likely to be detrimental to Poa annua greens, and researchers at Oregon State are looking for ways to alleviate problems asso - ciated with those applications. Concerns about the increasing possi - bility of fungicide bans and the havoc that could be caused by Microdochium nivale have led the Northwest Turfgrass Association, Oregon GCSA, Oregon Turf Foundation, USGA, Western Canada Turfgrass Associ - ation and Western IPM Center to support the research at Oregon State and Washing - ton State. Representatives from these organi- zations and Dave Phipps, GCSAA feld staff for the Northwest, are involved in an effort to maintain support for the research that is tak - ing place. To learn how to support this research, contact Kowalewski (alec.kowalewski@oregon state.edu). Teresa Carson is GCM's senior science editor. Not so pretty in pink The pinkish hue of turf af´Čéicted with Microdochium patch comes from pink fungal spores. Photo by Clint Mattox Presented in Partnership with Barenbrug (turf) Teresa Carson tcarson@gcsaa.org twitter: @GCM_Magazine 032-033_Feb14_Turf.indd 32 1/17/14 11:55 AM

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