SAN DIEGO, CA—“Integrated pest management, or IPM, is sometimes seen as more of an academic endeavor than as an approach that can work in the real world,” said Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D., co-director of PACE Turf at the company’s recent PACE Turfgrass Research Institute annual seminar in San Diego. More than 160 superintendents and turf managers attended the meeting that provided the latest information on new tools, products and practices for developing turf IPM programs that work. “Our goal is to translate science into practice,” Gelernter said, “so you can go back to work tomorrow with information that you can immediately put to use.”
Recent advances in cultural management practices can significantly reduce pest infestations, said Gelernter, the first speaker of the day. Management of soil moisture, nitrogen and sand topdressing can reduce damage from diseases, insects and weeds, sometimes in unexpected ways. One of the most surprising findings that she presented showed how low soil moisture plays a role in a variety of turf problems, including disease. “Most people think of fungal disease as the result of overly wet conditions, but there are several important diseases—including gray leaf spot, anthracnose and brown ring patch—that are promoted when soils are too dry,” she said.
Recycled water also has an impact on IPM programs. “In this time of ever-limited resources and ever-increasing expenses, there isn’t much controversy over the question of whether you want recycled water at your facility,” Larry Stowell, Ph.D. said, “because you do.” But the fellow PACE Turf co-director stressed the importance of recognizing that recycled water can be difficult to manage, especially if it is of lower quality than your current irrigation source.
Stowell extensively studied recycled water for more than 10 years as he consulted with golf courses around the country. A key finding of his work concludes that monitoring trends in soil chemistry is the best way to track the changes brought about by using recycled water. “We’ve seen that the most common problems associated with recycled water come in the form of excess salinity, nitrogen and sodium,” Stowell said. “But by keeping close tabs on these factors, and by leaching when necessary, turf damage can be avoided.”
Turf managers using recycled water should test their soils twice a year, Stowell said, and to compare the results against the PACE Turf Soil Chemistry Guidelines, which can be found free-of-charge on the PACE Turf website at www.paceturf.org.
Management of difficult turf pests in IPM programs was addressed by Frank Wong, Ph.D. of the University of California-Riverside and Mike McClure, Ph.D. of the University of Arizona. Wong addressed anthracnose, a disease caused by the fungus Colletotrichum cereale. Three years of efficacy field trials yielded some clear pest control winners, including conventional fungicides, such as Medallion (fludioxinil), Banner (propiconazole) and combinations with Signature (aluminum tris) or Daconil (chlorothalonil). But there were also some unexpected stars among biological pesticides, such as Endorse (polyoxin-D), Ecoguard (Bacillus lichenformis) and Huma-balance (Bacillus subtilus).
McClure addressed another stubborn pest, the stem gall nematode (Anguina pacificae). A devastating pest of poa greens, this unique nematode is a problem only in the coastal strip of Central and Northern California. But despite its limited geographical range, its impact is huge; since there have been no viable controls available for many years, golf courses that are infested with the nematode must either switch to bentgrass (which is much more tolerant of Anguina damage) or suffer unacceptable levels of damage.
For the last several years, McClure has studied the nematode’s life cycle, habits and control and has shed some insight on what has been a confusing and very difficult problem for superintendents. One of the most interesting findings from his lab, McClure said, was of the activity of a fungicide — Cleary’s 3336 (thiophanate-methyl) against the nematode. McClure has also been conducting a multi-year bentgrass screening trials to determine which varieties are most tolerant of Anguina.
Summaries of each of these talks, as well as the full presentations, are available to subscribers of PACE Turf on the organization’s “Member Edition” website. Subscription information is available on the PACE Turf website at: www.paceturf.org.
PACE Turf is a membership organization that provides research, education and information services to the turf management community. Founded in 1993 by its research directors Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D. and Larry Stowell, Ph.D., the PACE Turf mission is to generate and share independent and objective agronomic information among turf professionals so they may develop management programs that are effective, practical and scientifically sound.