Kansas State University


K-State Turfgrass

Month: May 2018

Declining turf? Look below the surface

Each year we get samples into the lab where there is turf decline and people think there is a disease problem, but the culprit is thatch. The photo above is from a sample that came in this week.

Any time you have a turf problem, take a soil probe, pocket knife, or trowel, and take a look underground. I’m saying 100% of the time. Not 90%. E-V-E-R-Y time. You never know what you might find down there.

We see a lot of decline from thatch-related desiccation in the heat of summer, but we also see it in spring after thatchy turf gets the moisture sucked out of it by dry winter winds.

Here are a few others from prior years:



In this one, the turf had thick thatch and got very desiccated over winter and was not able to green up in spring:


At this site, they also had grub problems. They had applied an insecticide, but as you probably know, pesticides can get pretty tied up in thatch which makes it hard for them to do their jobs.

For more details:




Nozzles! More interesting and important than you think

We are getting into summer crazy-time, and during crazy-time it’s easy to forget about things like calibrating and replacing worn nozzles.

Here are a couple of reminders about nozzles, re-posting a short note from last year:



Spray nozzles might seem like a boring topic, but as stated in an article by Shepard, Agnew, Fidanza, Kaminski, and Dant in 2006 in Golf Course Management, nozzles are “The last piece of equipment through which sprays pass before contact with the turf.”

Think about the cost of all that stuff going through the sprayer, the time of the person applying those materials, and the fuel to power that sprayer Nozzles are small, and they don’t cost much, but they can really contribute to the success of an application and help maximize the bang for your buck on all those OTHER costs.

Anyway – as noted in the article cited above, nozzles determine the amount of chemical applied, the uniformity of the application, the coverage, and they can influence the risk of drift. Make sure you calibrate your equipment, replace worn nozzles, and follow all label instructions about application equipment for the materials you are spraying. A worn-out nozzle could easily be allowing 10% or more excess material to be applied, which = 10% more money. Equipment that is not calibrated right might be applying LESS than you need to get adequate control.

Weather – you can’t control it, but you can maximize your knowledge of it

We’ve had a taste of every season here in Kansas these past few weeks.

With that, here’s a reminder on an excellent source for weather details – the KSU Mesonet.

If you have ever been to Rocky Ford, you have seen our weather station:

This station is linked up to Mesonet: http://mesonet.k-state.edu/

You might have your own on-site weather station. At minimum, you might have a soil temperature probe.

To supplement those, you can visit the Mesonet website and check for a station near you. Just click on a site, and some info will pop up.

For historical weather, click on the menu on the upper left, then go to WEATHER and then HISTORICAL WEATHER and you can select the days you want to consider. There are various options for soil temperatures and many other features. Soil temperatures can be important indicators for different management practices. Again, I highly encourage you to measure your own conditions on site, since there are lots of different microclimates in the world of turf and landscape. But it does not hurt to compare to a nearby weather station.

If you have never used Mesonet, check it out!