Northeast News Update

By Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist, Northeast Region
June 15, 2011

The Veterans Golf Course staff and outside contractors continue to remove trees and debris left from a tornado that caused severe damage to the City of Springfield, MA and surrounding communities. (Photo courtesy of Chris Cowan) 

June has brought some long-awaited heat and drier weather conditions that have helped the saturated golf courses in the northern parts of the region and pushed the growth of seedling plants in winter-damaged areas. It did not come without a big price, however, as some violent thunderstorms and even tornadoes left a destructive and deadly path across central Massachusetts. Portions of the Veterans Golf Course in Springfield, MA remain closed as the staff continues to clean trees and other debris left in the wake of the storm.

The changing weather brought with it some disease activity, including dollar spot disease, red thread, leaf spot, brown ring patch and, surprisingly, Fusarium patch. It did not take long for isolated dry spots to pop up following the windy and dry conditions.

The rollercoaster temperatures have raised havoc with management programs for annual bluegrass weevils. We are finding different stages of larva along with pupae and some adults.  Emergence of the adults is earlier than what we thought, but perhaps we didn’t look for them early enough. The peak emergence dates probably will remain the same, but the longer and more drawn out emergence of overwintering adults may, in part, explain why we see so many stages of the insect even in late spring. The fact that golf courses are monitoring more closely for the insect will improve the understanding of the insect development and activity, and will lead to more well-timed insecticide applications. Updates from UMASS and Dupont's Weevil Trak provide information on the insect’s development stage across the region.

The resistance concerns with the pyrethroid insecticides has many managers relying more on Dursban for early season control of adults, and a greater emphasis on products such a Dylox, Conserve, Provaunt and Acelepryn to target larva. The newer chemistries are more selective and less toxic, but their window of application is smaller so monitoring the larval development stage is key. Superintendents are experimenting with Aloft and Allectus combination products to control egg-laying adults with the hope that the nicotinoid chemistry will remain at levels in the plant to suppress the larva. The program involves multiple applications, but results seem to be variable. This insect continues to be a season-long challenge for annual bluegrass managers in the Northeast.

The recent heat brought more reports of patchy, weekly-rooted and chlorotic turf conditions at some courses. Closer examination of plugs taken from the weakened areas found high numbers of lance and stunt parasitic nematodes and no other causal agents. The presence of parasitic nematodes is not surprising, but their impact at such an early point in the season is concerning. Parasitic nematodes are considered secondary pests of cool season turf that can become problematic when the turf is aggressively maintained and weather conditions are stressful. It’s a bit of a concern as the turf was not under severe stress and rooting has been severely damaged. Most golf courses probably will never have an issue with parasitic nematodes, but keep an open mind in regards to this pest and its potential impact. Many managers resist even testing for nematodes fearing the test results and knowledge that management options are extremely limited.                              


Northeast Region Green Section- Dave Oatis, director; Adam Moeller, agronomist; Jim Skorulski, senior agronomist 


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