Highlights From The 2013 North Central Florida Turfgrass Field Day

By John H. Foy, director, Florida Region
October 15, 2013

Billy Crow, Ph.D., nematologist with the University of Florida, discusses the results of this year’s nematicide product evaluation trials during the 2013 North Central Florida Field Day. An integrated management program using a combination of products is the best option for suppressing plant parasitic nematodes and for maintaining acceptable turf coverage and quality.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, the University of Florida and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences held their annual North Central Florida Turfgrass Field Day at their turfgrass research center in Citra, Fla. Attendees enjoyed field tours of research plots to learn about results of research projects underway. Following are a few highlights from presentations on turfgrass disease and nematode management given by the University of Florida’s Drs. Phil Harmon and Billy Crow. 

Dr. Harmon reported that year to date the Rapid Turfgrass Diagnostic Service had already received and processed over 600 samples from around the state, which is already more than what was received during 2012. This confirms field observations that disease activity has been higher this year and is at least partially due to most areas receiving greater than normal rainfall. 

It was reported that over the past two to three months, leaf and sheath blight (caused by Rhizoctonia zeae) had been the most common disease diagnosis in the samples received from golf course putting greens. For fall and early winter, Dr. Harmon expects a shift to an increased incidence of leaf spot disease (caused by Bipolaris sp.) on putting greens. This has been the pattern over the past two to three years. Given the negative impact on turf health and quality from leaf spot disease being experienced recently, a more proactive or preventative fungicide treatment program is being suggested this year. 

Plant parasitic nematodes also continue to be a primary pest concern on courses throughout Florida. Landscape nematologist Dr. Billy Crow has been evaluating a variety of products for managing/suppressing these worm-like organisms that feed on and damage the root system of the turf. Unfortunately, no single product has been identified that provides comparable control to fenamiphos (Nemacur), the longtime industry standard which is no longer available for use on golf courses. With funding being provided by the USGA, Dr. Crow has been evaluating an integrated management program using a combination of products. Both calendar and monitoring based treatment schedules have provided satisfactory results when a rotation is used with treatments of a biological product containing the bacteria Bacillus firmus (Nortica), furfural (Multi-Guard Protect) and abamectin (Avid). At this time, abamectin is still not available for use in Florida, but the process of getting a 24(c) Special Local Need label from the EPA is underway and hopefully will be available in the near future. It was also reported that positive results were being achieved with other compounds and we are all hopeful that there will soon be additional options available to help battle nematodes. 

Source: John Foy (jfoy@usga.org)

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