Golf Course Management

MAR 2018

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

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58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 To develop a solid greens agronomic pro- gram, you need to answer four key questions. • What pests do I need to prevent? • What temperatures or other conditions trigger this pest? • When do those conditions normally occur in my area? • What product or tank mix will prevent the spectrum of pests expected to be active dur - ing each week of the season? It's just that simple. OK, maybe it needs some more explanation. Targeting the right pests Once upon a time, you didn't really need to know exactly which diseases or insects you were targeting with a particular application. Products covered a very broad spectrum, and chances were good you could pick a product off the shelf and it would take care of the prob - lem. Those days are over. By virtue of their reduced impacts on the environment, newer chemistries are generally more specific to cer - tain pests or a group of pests, so you need to know which pests are targeted by every appli - cation. The first and most important step is to ask yourself, "Which pests do I need to prevent?" This is actually the hardest part of writing a program and a step that many turf managers mistakenly skip. Every grass species used for greens — from annual bluegrass to zoysiagrass — has a fi - nite list of pests that are regular problems in a given region. But there are a lot of myths and misconceptions here, based mostly on old in - formation published in outdated textbooks. For example, many superintendents with bentgrass greens in the transition zone make preventive applications for take-all patch and Pythium blight, when they probably should be more worried about summer patch and Py - thium root rot. Being aware of specific differ- ences can be the tipping point between success and failure. This is where you should rely on pathology or entomology specialists, Extension special - ists, or consultants. Their knowledge of turf pests improves every year, and they are on the cutting edge of the science that can help you pinpoint exactly which pests are problematic in your area. Additionally, you should pay particular attention when turf scientists talk about new or emerging pests at educational conferences. Even if you haven't seen that new pest yet, you probably will in the near future, and it pays to ensure your program accounts for that. After you have your list of pests, you should determine what temperatures are con - ducive to the development of each pest. Take into consideration average daytime and night - time temperatures, soil temperatures, and how specific pests are influenced by rainfall or humidity. Again, make sure you're relying on the most up-to-date research available in your area, not your turf pathology textbook that was published in 1982. The right time Whoever first said, "There's no such thing as a normal year" was probably a superinten - dent. Compared with low-maintenance areas, intensively managed turf can be very suscep - tible to weather changes and extremes, which can lead to frequent pest outbreaks or damage from abiotic stresses such as heat and drought that require intervention or management. Figure 1. Normal average air temperatures are a good approximation for soil temperatures and can be used to predict when root pathogens will become active. Similarly, normal low temperatures can be used to identify when foliar diseases typically become active in your area. Whoever first said, "There's no such thing as a normal year" was probably a superintendent. 1/1 2/1 2/29 3/31 4/30 5/31 6/30 7/31 8/31 9/30 10/31 11/30 12/31 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Date Normal average air temperature (F) Large patch Large patch Spring dead spot Take-all patch Take-all patch Fairy ring Summer patch and Pythium root rot

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