Important Dates And Chemical Updates For Florida Golf Courses

By John H. Foy, director, Florida Region
March 19, 2014

Soil sterilization with methyl bromide has been a common and recommended practice when renovating or resurfacing bermudagrass putting greens. The phase out of methyl bromide raises major concerns for golf courses in Florida because there are no practical alternatives available.

During the past couple of months several important regulatory decisions have been made affecting the use of some products on golf courses in Florida. 

First, the phase out of the soil sterilant methyl bromide is quickly coming to an end. Methyl bromide is commonly used in putting green renovation and resurfacing projects to ensure that viable plant material and soil borne pests are eliminated before replanting. Currently, there are few practical alternatives to methyl bromide that are available for use on golf courses. Despite efforts to prolong the use of methyl bromide through critical use exemptions, a decision made by the Environmental Protection Agency will officially terminate sales of methyl bromide to golf courses on Nov. 30, 2014. However, the option of pre-purchasing methyl bromide and contracting fumigation services prior to the stop-sale date is still available. Some currently licensed contract applicators are accepting pre-payments for future use of methyl bromide through 2017. However, the end user is required to accept shipment and store product on-site adhering to all federal, state and local requirements. This allows some flexibility for courses scheduling putting green renovation and resurfacing projects, but it is still advised to undertake methyl bromide fumigation sooner rather than later.

Next, the EPA has modified the phase out of fenamiphos, the active ingredient in Nemacur products. Nemacur® was the primary product used to control/suppress plant parasitic nematodes. Parasitic nematodes, especially those infecting putting greens, continue to present a major pest problem in Florida. The original phase out plan allowed for the use fenamiphos until existing supplies were exhausted. However, in a recent change to the Federal Register, 76(193):61690-61694, the EPA is requiring that all fenamiphos inventories be used by Oct. 6, 2014. Golf courses that still have products containing fenamiphos should use them according to label recommendations before Oct. 6.  After Oct. 6, 2014, any remaining fenamiphos materials will be classified as hazardous waste and must be properly disposed of.

Finally, some good news in the ongoing battle of managing parasitic nematodes on putting greens in Florida. The miticide/insecticide Avid® (abamectin) has been shown to successfully suppress nematode populations. Research conducted by Dr. Billy Crowe, University of Florida, found that applications of Avid® at two to three week intervals reduced nematodes in the top two inches of the soil. Furthermore, Crowe observed improved turf performance and root growth, particularly during summer stress periods, when using Avid® to suppress nematodes.  During the past few years, Avid® has seen use in several states throughout the southeast. Recently, Avid® received a Section 24(c) Special Local Need Label for use in Florida. While not a replacement for nematicides that are no longer available, Avid® is an additional tool that can be used in an integrated pest management program.

Source: John Foy (jfoy@usga.org)

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