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Archive for June, 2014

brown patch symptoms from last summer

brown patch symptoms from last summer

June 26th 7 day forecast for Guelph

June 26th 7 day forecast for Guelph


Heat and humidity are building in Ontario. On June 30th and July 1st nighttime low temperatures are going to be 20 degrees C and day time highs are hovering near 30C. Add a risk of thunder showers into the mix and that puts us in a high risk situation for the development of both brown patch and possibly Pythium blight. No need to panic yet, but probably a good idea to get a preventative fungicide application on golf course tees and greens sometime before Canada Day.

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Chafers set to pop

Catalpa tree in full bloom

Catalpa tree in full bloom

adult European chafer on golf green

adult European chafer on golf green

European chafer development has progressed quickly over the last two weeks. Two weeks ago we pulled some plugs to see what stages the European chafers were in. At that point they were still 100% third instar grubs. Fast forward to this week and now we are finding roughly 70% adult chafers, 10% pupae and 20% third instar grubs. I have not been out at dusk yet to see how many adults are emerging at the moment. I guess I am liking my comfy couch and TV programs too much between 9:00 amd 9:30 pm. I will drag myself off the couch in the next couple of evenings at dusk to monitor the adult flights and update the situation in this blog. The plant phenological indicator for peak adult flights of European chafer is full bloom of catalpa. It is in early bloom so we are at least a few days away from peak adult flights. We usually say that peak adult flights happen around Canada Day so the European chafers are only slightly delayed this year.

Golf courses can apply a preventative grub insecticide anytime between now and the end of July. Make sure to water the product in to get it down to where the next generation of grubs will be developing.

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early bloom of bird's-foot trefoil

early bloom of bird’s-foot trefoil


The roadsides are ablaze with yellow again. This time it is bird’s-foot trefoil. Like I say to the students in the Turf Manager’s Short Course – when you see bird’s-foot trefoil beginning to bloom you should remember that this signals something is happening in the turf insect world. The second trick is to remember what. It is the time of hairy chinch bug peak egg laying. This means we can expect peak damage from hairy chinch bug nymph feeding in about 4-6 weeks.

There have been questions about how well the adult hairy chinch bugs overwintered last winter and if this will impact the populations and damage this summer. In our weekly insect monitoring, we have observed similar numbers of adult black turfgrass ataenius and annual bluegrass weevils this spring compared to last spring. If that is any indication, there will probably be similar numbers of hairy chinch bugs this year compared to last year. The weather from now on in will determine how much damage we see. Hairy chinch bugs love it when it is hot and dry, so if conditions get dry we could be in for lots of damage. If we gets lots of rain in the next month, expect damage to be less than normal.

The Met52™ EC BIOINSECTICIDE which is a Class 11 classification in Ontario received registration last year and has hairy chinch bug on the label. This product is something to consider in your lawn care program if large numbers of hairy chinch bugs nymphs are observed.

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$ spot slow start up

First dollar spots on fairway height turf

First dollar spots on fairway height turf

After all of that white fluffy mycelium that was visible last week, the dollar spot symptoms are finally evident. If you haven’t applied a preventative dollar spot fungicide application, it isn’t too late. Don’t wait too long though because the weather is setting up for lots of moisture in the next few days that will probably lead to an explosion of dollar spot.

Some of you might be worried about other hot weather foliar diseases as well. The forecast is for the nights to remain cool here in Ontario so I think we are going to dodge those diseases for a few weeks yet. Until Canada Day we are supposed to have night temperatures in the mid-low teens. Could be a different story after that.

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Evil weevil

early annual bluegrass weevil damage

early annual bluegrass weevil damage

4th instar annual bluegrass weevil

4th instar annual bluegrass weevil

We – well mostly my summer student Emily Hartwig – continue to do saturated salt soaks of annual bluegrass plugs to follow the development of annual bluegrass weevil. Emily is finding mostly 4-5th instar larvae. These are the stages that cause the most damage. The annual bluegrass patches on the edges of the pathology green here at GTI are just starting to show early signs of damage – very small yellow to brown spots within the patches.

I guess the good news is that the damage will probably peak very soon and there will be less live annual bluegrass on your golf course fairways, collars, etc..

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Thinned non-irrigated perennial ryegrass with broadleaf weeds and annual bluegrass

Thinned non-irrigated perennial ryegrass with broadleaf weeds and annual bluegrass

Non-irrigated turf is really starting to show signs of stress now, especially on light textured soils. There is rain in the forecast, but only in the form of thundershowers, which can be spotty at best. If you are one of the unlucky ones that doesn’t get the forecasted rain, look for lawn conditions to deteriorate. Many homeowners each year make a conscious decision not to water their lawns. It isn’t usually a problem unless we get more than 6-8 weeks without any substantial rainfall and that can result in significant turf loss. What you can expect over an average summer if you don’t water your lawn is slightly thinned turf that may be invaded by broadleaf weeds and annual bluegrass.

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aerial mycelium associated with dollar spot

aerial mycelium associated with dollar spot

The temperature is ramping up in the day. Thankfully, the night time temperatures are going to remain below 20C. This is good news for the hot weather foliar diseases such as Pythium blight and brown patch which need those higher night temperatures to develop and cause extensive turf damage. The hot days and cool nights are perfect for heavy dew formation and dollar spot development. If you don’t have your preventative fungicide application for dollar spot down, it is probably a good time to do that. What you may see with the high humidity that accompanies overnight thunder storms is white mycelium associatied with dollar spot which can easily be mistaken for Pythium blight.

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The spring growth flush has occurred and the turf is probably needing a pick me up. This is especially true for turf that is irrigated and will continue to grow throughout the summer such as golf course turf and irrigated sports fields. Home lawns do nicely with a slow release fertilizer or an organic source of N that will be released slowly over the summer. On home lawns, fertilizing now will also help the turf fill the voids after an application of the broadleaf herbicide Fiesta and help the turf recover from seedhead production. An application at this time of 0.3- 0.5kg/N per 100m2 is the right amount for this time of year, especially on mature stands of turf.

On golf course turf, N at this time of the season will help protect against heavy dollar spot infection. Fertilizing at this time of year is tricky though. You want to have enough N to help minimize dollar spot and anthracnose but not so much that you encourage the warm temperature foliar diseases such as brown patch and Pythium blight. Young seedlings that are just getting established this spring after winter injury will particularly susceptible to these foliar diseases that attack seedlings.

Fertilized turf in the background and stemmy unfertilized turf in the foreground

Fertilized turf in the background and stemmy unfertilized turf in the foreground

Brown patch on newly seeded bentgrass

Brown patch on newly seeded bentgrass

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Follow the link below to information on Lightning Safety. June 9-11th is Lightning Safety Week.

Lightning safety.

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resized billbugWe (my summer student Emily Hartwig and insect photographer extraordinare) and I found our first bluegrass billbug a couple of days ago. She was marching across the research green at GTI in search of some Kentucky bluegrass to lay her eggs in. So far we have only observed a couple of adults. I am not sure that this is an indication of smaller numbers of bluegrass billbug migrating this spring or that they are later than usual. There is some conjecturing going on that the very cold temperatures that we experienced last winter may have knocked back some of the insects that overwinter as adults.

Keep an eye out for this pest on sidewalks and walkways between overwintering sites and home lawns over the next couple of weeks to get an indication of the number of of adult bluegrass billbugs around. Damage from bluegrass billbugs is usually evident in mid to late July. The presence of sawdust like frass in the Kentucky bluegrass thatch is a sure sign of bluegrass billbug damage. Another characteristic of the damage from this pest is the “tug test”. If you pull at yellow Kentucky bluegrass leaf blades and they pull out easily, this is also diagnostic of bluegrass billbug damage. There are no insecticide controls for bluegrass billbug on home lawns in Ontario. Seeding endophytic perennial ryegrasses into lawns that typically get bluegrass billbug damage has helped reduce the damage.

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