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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Page 65 of 101

62 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 busy season. However, with some prep work in advance, it takes only a few minutes to col - lect and ship a sample. During the off-season, take time to gather boxes, packing materials, sample submission forms and shipping labels to speed up the process. You can even set up an account with some labs ahead of time to facilitate payment. At least half of the samples submitted to diagnostic labs aren't a disease issue, which is often the first assumption. There are myriad abiotic stresses, cultural issues and other pests, like nematodes, that can cause turf to decline. Don't be disappointed if the lab tells you there is no disease — that is good news! However, if you still don't have a diagnosis, you may need to submit soil and tissue samples for nutrient analysis or nematode samples to rule out other possibilities. Identifying a problem is often a process of elimination, so the more things you can rule out, the closer you are to a defini - tive diagnosis. It's often said that golf course management is a combination of art and science. That was, and always will be, true. But there was a time when pest management was mostly art and very little science. With the specificity of to - day's chemistries, the risk of resistance devel- opment and the cost of a wasted application, pest management needs to become more sci - ence and less art. Fortunately, the hard work of university scientists and crop protection R&D specialists is making that more possible every year. So, when you are developing your agro - nomic plan, take advantage of all your avail- able resources. Listen to the science, monitor your course and work with your local territory or technical services manager. By following a few basic steps and focusing on the fundamen - tals, you can ensure you're combating the right pests with the right products at the right time. Aut or's note: Always read and follow label in - structions. Some products may not be regis- tered for sale or use in all states or counties, and/or may have state-specific use require - ments. Please check with your local Extension service to ensure registration and proper use. Lane Tredway, Ph.D., is the Southeast technical service representative for turf and landscape at Syngenta and a 28-year veteran of the turfgrass industry. needs change. Even the best program will have to be modified based on actual weather con - ditions throughout the season. Some applica- tions may need to go earlier or later if tem- peratures are warmer or cooler than normal. This is where you need to be in tune with the specific weather conditions that trigger each pest problem so you can modify the program as needed. Test; don't guess Even with the most solid agronomic plan, challenges can always arise. When an unusual symptom is spotted on the turf, often the first instinct is to grab something off the shelf to spray and get the problem fixed ASAP. If you know what the problem is and how to fix it, that is great. But how confident are you in the real cause of the issue? Seventy-five percent? Fifty percent? Twenty-five percent? If you're being honest, you may be on the lower end of that spectrum most of the time. You may get lucky and pull the right prod - uct off the shelf, and the problem goes away. However, you still don't know what the prob - lem was, and more importantly, how to pre- vent it from recurring next year. Maybe the problem went away on its own, but now you think the product you sprayed was the cor - rect solution. And if you chose a product that wasn't the strongest option for that particu - lar pest, you may need more applications to keep it from coming back, further increasing the cost of control. If you manage problems by guessing, there's no way to improve and refine your program over time. Instead, your program will become a series of guesses that might work in some years but not others. Submitting samples for proper diagnosis is the best thing you can do to take the guess - work out of agronomic planning. Sample di- agnoses provide you with real data you can use to select the best curative treatment and mod - ify your program to prevent the same problem next year. Additionally, as with human medi - cine, some complex issues may even require a series of tests and take more than one trip to the doctor. Find a diagnostic lab that will work with you over time to get to a definitive diagnosis. Avoid labs that simply provide an inventory of all the pathogens that were iden - tified under a microscope or that grew on a petri dish; this doesn't tell you what is actually causing the problem. Finding the time to collect and submit samples can be a challenge in the midst of a Putting green diseases are difficult to differentiate based on field symptoms alone. An accurate diagnosis often requires microscopic examination by a trained pathologist/agronomist. In some cases, additional tests, such as culturing, can be helpful, but only as a supplement to careful examination of symptoms and signs.

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