‘Tis The Season For Educational Opportunities January 18, 2012 By Chris Hartwiger and Patrick O'Brien

According to Dr. Rick Brandenberg, the fall armyworm has become the number one insect pest in the Southeast.   


Conference season is well underway and turf professionals are taking advantage of multiple opportunities to broaden their knowledge, network with others, and earn valuable pesticide and GCSAA points. In this update, I will review the first conference of the year and update you on upcoming USGA educational opportunities. 

My first stop in 2012 was the 46th Tennessee Turfgrass Association Conference in Nashville, January 9-11. Attendance was good with speakers from throughout the country and even overseas. Dr. Micah Woods, president of the Asian Turfgrass Center, travelled from Thailand and wowed the audience with unique pictures on how golf courses are maintained in other parts of the world. There is definitely more than one way to get the job done. 

Dr. Rick Brandenburg of North Carolina State University made several presentations, and his talk on “Transition Zone Top Pests” had multiple tips for superintendents in the region. A few are noted below. 

  • The fall armyworm is considered the top insect pest in the Southeast Region. Because there is a new migration every year, timing and location of damage can vary.  Since the adult moths lay their eggs on structures, infestations are likely to be first noticed along the edges of structures or wooded areas.  Armed with this information, superintendents can select one of the newer products with a long residual to treat a small band along the edge of the woods. Control is good and the amount of area treated is small. Dr. Brandenburg mentioned that he has seen Acelypryn® used in this way with excellent levels of season-long control for fall armyworms. 
  • The sugarcane beetle is an emerging pest on turfgrass in the region, and what a pest it is. Dr. Brandenburg showed pictures of the sugarcane beetle consuming not only turf, but manmade things like plastic, caulk, and hardened glue. If this isn’t bad enough, sugarcane beetles are attracted to light and they will accumulate by the thousands, devouring whatever is present. Because they are a pest originating from South America, scientists don’t know much about the sugar cane beetle yet, however Dr. Brandenburg says that they have annual flights in April and sometimes in October. In April, look for sugar cane beetles gathering near light sources and for pencil-size holes in the ground. 
  • Billbugs are another pest Dr. Brandenburg has spent the last several years studying. While most believe it is the larvae that attack plants, Dr. Brandenburg has observed that damage is actually caused by the adults. Adult billbugs feed at the crown of the plant and can sever it completely. The adults remain active much of the year with peaks in April and September. For best results, treat with a pyrethroid to kill adults in the spring and fall if billbug activity is anticipated.


 Upcoming USGA Educational Opportunities 

  • USGA Education Conference at the 2012 Golf Industry Show and Education Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada    Among the many interesting educational opportunities at the GIS show is the annual USGA Education Conference that will be held on Friday, March 1, between 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.  Plan to attend as there will be many interesting topics and Turf Tips presented by USGA Green Section staff.   
  • USGA and Carolinas GCSA Regional Conference in Greensboro, NC.  March 26-27.  Come join us for a day of golf at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C. on March 26 followed by a day of education on March 27. More details will be available on the website in the near future.   


It won’t be long before the grass greens up and course maintenance moves into full swing. We hope you can take advantage of educational opportunities this spring and, as always, do not hesitate to contact us if we may be of service to you in any way.