A Return To Normal

By Stanley Zontek, director, Mid-Atlantic Region
May 24, 2012

A typical cool-temperature disease of turfgrass that was active in the Mid-Atlantic Region thanks to cool, damp weather. The same fungicides that control brown patch usually control these diseases. In some cases, warmer weather and some soluble nitrogen will work just as well as fungicides to remedy turf damage from these diseases.

By almost any measure, this has been a wonderful spring for golf and grass in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Near record-breaking warmth has the turf off to a great start with few low temperature or winter injury issues. Ironically, since our last update, there have been below normal temperatures. We have even seen cool-weather diseases, including brown ring patch (formerly called Waitea Patch) and cool-season brown patch, on golf courses and even some grass tennis courts. Fortunately, most turf has responded well to fungicide applications and the reasonably good growing weather. As turf managers, perhaps we forgot that…it is still spring. 

Additionally, there have been a few agronomic consequences to the cooler weather. Turfgrasses have clearly reacted to plant growth regulators, cool temperatures and wet soils. In these situations, creeping bentgrass takes on the appearance of turf decline which can be mistaken for disease. In reality, the grass is stunted. It is not a disease, it just makes the bentgrass look bad. It can also make putting greens bumpy. What should be done? 

The simplest solution is to simply wait for warmer weather which should hopefully be in the near-term forecast. If turf is being affected by the interaction of weather and plant growth regulators, some soluble nitrogen can help the grass grow out of the stunting. Gentle solid tine aeration and even careful applications of biostimulants containing gibberellic acid can also promote growth. Be careful - it only takes a few grams of gibberellic acid per acre. In this case, more is not better. 

Hyperodes weevil continues to be a frustrating pest to manage and control. The early spring has disrupted traditional insecticide application timings. Indeed, we are seeing adults and larvae on the same courses, at the same time so it may be necessary to make both adulticide and larvicide applications. 

Overall, golf facilities continue to thrive this spring. Our office continues to receive reports about increases in play, good income and even stable to rising membership numbers. This is all good for our industry. 

The next major golf event is the U.S. Open Championship. This year it will be played June 14-17 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. What makes this event so special is that the golf will be televised in prime time here on the East Coast. What a great way to watch golf! What a great way to enjoy Father’s Day! What a great venue to crown our national champion of golf. 

The U.S. Open at The Olympic Club should also whet our appetite for the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. This too should be an exciting event. 

On behalf of the staff of the Mid-Atlantic Region we hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend. There is no better way to remember those who have kept our country free than to enjoy the freedoms of a holiday weekend. Why not go out and play some golf? 

The Mid-Atlantic Region agronomists are part of your agronomic support team.  If you have a question or concern, give us a call or send an email. You can reach Stan Zontek (szontek@usga.org) and Darin Bevard (dbevard@usga.org) at 610/ 558-9066 or Keith Happ (khapp@usga.org) at 412/ 341-5922.

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