Golf Course Management

OCT 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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68 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.14 which eliminated chestnut trees from the Southern Appalachians and radically changed the forests of the Southeast in the mid-1900s. Formulating a battle plan Once Gerdon and Grandfather G&CC former general manager Norris Clifton be - came aware of the dangers of hemlock woolly adelgid infestation, they took aggressive ac - tion. And, wisely, they never gave up hope. They attended an informational meeting on the pest and potential control methods at Appalachian State University in August 2002. Entomologists from Virginia Tech were pres - ent to discuss a predatory beetle, Laricobius nigrinus, they were lab rearing for adelgid control. At that point, nobody in the industry knew L. nigrinus and hemlock woolly adelgid were both native to the U.S. Pacifc North - west. This discovery soon became the big game changer in fghting the pest. As the lab-reared L. nigrinus beetles (bio - logical control agents) would not be available to the private sector in adequate numbers for several years, Gerdon and Clifton settled on using chemicals to stem the tide of Grandfa - ther G&CC's infestation. "We knew we'd experience a high mortal - ity rate on our trees if we didn't act quickly," Gerdon says. "We just had to fgure out how to control chemically without adverse effects on the environment." Starting in the spring of 2003, they began treatment on the 18-hole championship and executive golf courses, then incorporated other areas of the 1,100-acre property, includ - ing member residences. On both courses they applied soil injec - tions of Merit in two concentric rings around the hemlocks. Near the lake and waterways they secured a 100-foot buffer around trees to be treated, then inserted capsules with Merit and a micronutrient package earmarked for hemlocks into holes drilled in the trees (see sidebar for details). From 2003 to 2007, a four-man crew applied the treatments from early spring into the fall. "The process was extremely labor-intensive and expensive, and involved thousands and thousands of trees. Our guys frequently had to crawl through rhododendrons to reach the trees. But it was well worth the effort," says Gerdon. "Treating chemically made our trees less susceptible to HWA stress and death for the short term, and likely gave us three to fve years of control before we began working with the biological control predators." Bring on the biologicals In 2006, the U.S. Forest Service discov - Peter Gerdon, superintendent at Grandfather G&CC, has placed his employer on the cutting edge of controlling the hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect pest that's wreaking havoc on hemlock stands up and down the East Coast. Top left: Laricobius nigrinus, a winter-active beetle, is the primary weapon in the battle to control the hemlock woolly adelgid. The L. nigrinus larvae hatch and feed on adelgid eggs and crawlers, causing 90 percent or greater mortality of the pest. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service Top right: Scymnus coniferarum, the summer equivalent of L. nigrinus, completes the perfect tag team for aggres - sive hemlock woolly adelgid control. Bottom: Hemlock woolly adelgid infestations are clearly visible and resemble tiny tufts of cotton that cling to hemlock needles.

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