Golf Course Management

JUL 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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68 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.18 The RESEARCH SAYS • Ground pearl, a type of scale insect, is an especially persistent pest in warm- season turfgrasses on lawns and golf courses. • Ground pearls can live deep in the soil and use a strawlike mouthpart to suck sap and nutrients from the roots of grasses, gradually damaging the root system and producing thin, chlorotic patches in the turf. • Nymphs take a year to mature and produce a waxy coating that protects them from pesticides. There is potential for control of adult females and crawlers, but once an area has become infested, it is extremely difficult to manage the problem. • Replacing severely infested turf with ornamental plantings or pollinator habitat is sometimes the only option. of the infestation. Damaged turfgrass can be killed with herbicides, but that does not re - move the ground pearls. Ground pearls can survive in the cyst stage for a long time (1). Ground pearls have been known to survive for 15 years in the absence of a suitable host. I have seen multiple incidences where infested grass had been removed and sod was placed on the bare dirt that remained. e new sod either was immediately infested with adult fe - males, or it became infested with cysts within a year (1). Another turf manager removed the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil, replaced it with clean topsoil and resodded, only to have the new sod infested with cysts within a year of renovation. We dug into the soil and found live cysts from the root zone to a hardpan 12 inches (30.5 cm) below the soil surface. Ground pearls living deep in the soil had be - come the source of infestation in the new sod. Future research Research continues on understanding ground pearl biology and developing an effec - tive management program for the pest. A suc- cessful management approach will likely inte- grate tolerant grass cultivars, cultural practices (such as irrigation and fertilization), insecti - cides, surfactant, knowledge and persistence. You know what else is a good way to deal with ground pearls? Grow rocks. No one has followed this recommendation yet. Literature cited 1. Brandenburg, R. 2003. Don't give up on ground pearls. Grounds Maintenance http://www.grounds- mag.com/mag/grounds_maintenance_dont_give_ ground_2/ 2. Hertl, P.T. 2012. Ground pearls. Pages 46-48. In: R.L. Brandenburg and C.P. Freeman, eds. Handbook of Turfgrass Insects, second edition. The Entomologi - cal Society of America, Lanham, Md. 3. Potter, D.A. 1998. Destructive Turfgrass Insects: Biology, Diagnosis, and Control. Ann Arbor Press, Ann Arbor, Mich. Juang Horng "JC" Chong (juanghc@clemson.edu) is an associate professor of turf and ornamentals entomology, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

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