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*SPECIAL ALERT* Sudden oak death pathogen reported in Kansas

Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology

The Kansas Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) in Kansas. The KDA press release from today can be found here:


SOD is a plant disease that has killed large tracts of oaks and other native species in California and Oregon. It also occurs on nursery plants including  rhododendron, azalea, camellia, viburnum, lilac, and periwinkle. Infected rhododendrons have been identified in 10 states in the Midwest, including Kansas. The infected plants that have been found in the Midwest have all been traced back to a common source.

This is a serious situation, and we ask that if you have purchased, planted, or maintained rhododendrons or other known host plants this spring please read the  information on the provided links and documents below and take action as needed.

Many details and photos are provided on the KDA website:


We have provided some additional details in a pdf that you can access by clicking the link below:

KS SOD FAQs_2019

KDA, K-State, and the Kansas Forest Service are all working collaboratively to address this situation.

K-State’s press release from today is here:


If you have questions, you can email me at kennelly@ksu.edu (or call 785-532-1387) or Cheryl Boyer (KSU nursery crops specialist) at crboyer@ksu.edu (785-532-3504).


Spring Brings a Little Bit of Everything

By Judy O’Mara

Take Closer Look at the Roses

The cool, wet spring weather is amazing for rose shrubs. They are blooming like crazy. However…if you take a closer look, you might notice that the blooms don’t last that long. They seem to fall apart and drop their petals very quickly. This is one of those instances where there actually is a disease involved. A fungal disease called Botrytis blight can cause tiny spots on the flower petals. If conditions are favorable (cool, high humidity, wet), then the blooms can look like they have the measles. Infected blooms quickly fell apart. The problem self corrects itself when the temperature increases and the weather dries out.

Fungi just Love Mulch

I planted some flowers and mulched the flower bed this weekend. When I opened the bag about twenty percent of the mulch had a white fungal mold. Questions about this issue turn up every spring. Basically mulch molds are wood decomposers. They occur as part of the natural ecosystem that breaks down organic matter. This is probably why we have to replace the mulch in our flower beds every year.

What triggers the prolific growth is a combination of wet conditions and large amounts of organic matter. Very likely the bag had a hole in it and water got inside.

Heavy amounts of mold can create a hydrophobic zone which can prevent water from getting to the plant roots. This can be avoided by breaking up the fungal mass.

It is not necessary to use fungicides to get rid of them. They are pretty much present whether we see them or not.

Another interesting mulch problem is Dog Vomit aka Slime mold. 

Slime molds start out as a colorful, slimy mass that dries down to a powdery material. They are common in mulch or turf. They can even crawl up on lawn furniture. They are favored by cool, wet conditions and are easily knocked back with a stream of water from a hose or even a rake.

For more information on this interesting phenomenon check out this web site at the Utah State University Herbarium. https://herbarium.usu.edu/fun-with-fungi/slime-molds

Diplodia tip blight

Across the state of Kansas, the most common pine disease is Diplodia tip blight (aka Sphaeropsis tip blight). The disease attacks the new shoot growth as it emerges in the spring. About the end of May, new shoots visibly die back on the ends of the branches. Over time, the disease can develop as a canker further back and result in a die back of the entire branch.

This fungal disease is primarily a problem on mature pine plantings (ie crowded, with poor air flow). Over a period of many years (10-15), the disease slowly chews up the tree resulting in a tree that appears half dead. The black pepper speck, fungal fruiting bodies (pycnidia) on the back of the pine cone scales are a key diagnostic feature for Diplodia tip blight.

Those are the facts, so…I was taken back by two separate pine samples that came through the K-State Plant Disease Diagnostic lab last week. Both pines had Diplodia tip blight, causing a shoot blight of the new growth, but…they were from young trees (3-5yrs old)!

However…on one sample the new trees were planted next to a line of older pine trees, which was probably the source of the disease inoculum.

Save the Date: Kansas Turf & Ornamentals Field Day – August 1st, 2019

The Kansas Turf & Ornamentals Field Day will be held on Thursday, August
1st at the K-State Research & Extension Center in Olathe (35230 W. 135th St.).

The field day program is designed for all segments of the turf & ornamentals industry – lawn care, athletic fields, golf courses, nursery, landscape & grounds maintenance. Included in the field day program: research presentations, problem diagnosis, commercial exhibitors, and equipment displays.


There will be time to see current research, talk to the experts and get answers to our questions.

One hour of pesticide recertification credit in both 3A & 3B is available, as well as GCSAA education points.

For more information, go to: https://www.k-state.edu/turf/events/index.html

What’s What on Juniper Shrubs?

By: Judy O’Mara

You can drive to any grocery store, fast food restaurant or mall in Kansas and see a spreading juniper shrub planting. They are pretty well adapted to Kansas but a few problems show up.

Winter damage is common following cold temperatures and desiccating winter winds. Die back tends to show up on the ends of the branches during December through February. If the damage isn’t too bad, it can be pruned out and with some added care, the shrubs may recover.

Snowy and Salty

In addition to cold temps last winter, there was lots of snow. According to Assistant State Climatologist, Mary Knapp, Manhattan Kansas received 27.8” of snow during the recent winter, which is 11.1” over the normal 16.7” snowfall. So what does this have to do with junipers? Well, with snow comes slippery sidewalks and driveways, which in turn can lead to the use of salt or de-icing products. They work pretty well to keep people safe slipping and breaking a hip, but sometimes the products can damage nearby shrubs.

It is not uncommon to see salt damage or browning on the side of juniper shrubs closest to the sidewalk in the spring. In this case, salt leached from the sidewalk and burned the roots closest to the edge. There is a nice article on which ice melts are appropriate to use at the K-State Johnson County Extension web site. Something to keep in mind for next winter.

Pictured above on the left, the juniper shrubs are experiencing salt burn from the sidewalk. Pictured above on the right is a heavy concentration of salt crystals.

Wet and More Wet

I got caught in a down pour on a recent trip to Hiawatha, KS.  The area creeks were flooded and topped the roads in a few places. It was an awesome sight, plus a little bit scary. It’s been a fairly common phenomenon this spring and there are a number of articles out there on the impact of flooding on landscape plants. I thought I would throw in my two cents, as well.

One of the more serious challenges for junipers plantings is damage due to ‘wet feet’. It is not uncommon during heavy spring storms to see shrubs floating in a pool of water. Aggravating factors may be locations with heavy clay soils that drain poorly or even locations that have a compaction layer not far from the soil surface. In either case, prolonged expose to wet soils will damage the roots and cause a collapse of the planting. I tend to think of this as center decline. Sometimes the entire plant will die, and sometimes just a portion (frequently the center). So, if a large section of the planting is going out, it may be a root health issue. Juniper shrubs never recover from this type of damage. It is really important to select a well-drained site for juniper plantings.

Branch Tip Die Back

I know this juniper shrub looks bad but, it’s actually okay. The damage here is caused by a fungal disease called Kabatina tip blight. It causes a die back of the branch tips, usually 2-8” with symptoms showing up between February and mid-June. It can cause a scattered branch die back or it can hit every single tip, making the shrub look like it is going to die. But no, like magic the planting recovers. By late June, the dead tips dry up and fall, slowly improving the appearance of the shrub. Some creeping junipers are particularly susceptible.

As always, there is the question ‘What can I spray?’. There are two reasons why that is not a practical option. One, the infection period is in the fall, so by the time you see the symptoms it  is too late to spray. Two, the disease is basically a cosmetic issue. In most years, it shows up as scattered dead tips (barely noticeable). In years with a prolonged cool, wet spring Kabatina tip blight symptoms can be dramatic. But…summer eventually arrives and with warmer temps and drier conditions disease activity halts. At that point, the dead tips start dropping off and the planting starts to look better. So best management option? Do nothing, or maybe rip it out and plant something less susceptible.

Pictured above, you can see daffodils, so you know it is early spring and conditions are favorable for Kabatina tip blight. Pictured on the right is the same planting later in the season. As you can see, all of the dead tips have dropped off of the plant.


Tree and shrub update: managing impact of floods, and why is there heavy seed set in some trees this spring?

Flooding and Trees by Ward Upham

Trees differ markedly in their ability to withstand flooding. Some trees have mechanisms in place to provide oxygen to the roots of plants with water saturated soils and others do no. However, most trees will maintain health if flood waters recede in 7 days or less. It also helps if water is flowing rather than stagnant. If the roots of sensitive trees are flooded for long periods of time, damage will occur including leaf drop, iron chlorosis, leaf curl, branch dieback, and in some cases, tree death. Another danger of flooding is the deposition of sediment. An additional layer of silt 3 inches or more can also restrict oxygen to
the roots. If possible, remove deep layers of sediment as soon as conditions permit. This is especially important for small or recently transplanted trees.
Try to avoid any additional stress to the trees this growing season. Ironically, one of the most important practices is to water trees if the weather turns dry. Flooding damages roots and therefore the root system is less efficient in making use of available soil water. Timely waterings are vital to a tree’s recovery. Also be diligent in removing dead or dying branches that may serve as an entry point for
disease organisms or insect pests. The following information came from the US forest Service.

Trees Tolerant of Flooding: Can survive one growing season under flooded conditions. Red maple, silver maple, pecan, hackberry, persimmon, white ash, green ash, sweetgum, sycamore, eastern cottonwood, pin oak and bald cypress.

Trees Moderately Tolerant of Flooding: Can survive 30 consecutive days under flooded conditions. River birch, downy hawthorn, honeylocust, swamp white oak, southern red oak, bur oak, willow oak and American elm.

Trees Sensitive to Flooding: Unable to survive more than a few days of flooding during the growing season.  Redbud, flowering dogwood, black walnut, red mulberry, most pines, white oak, blackjack oak, red oak and black oak.


Lots of Flowers, Lots of Seeds by Ward Upham

I have never seen lilacs bloom like they did this year.  Also, elms and maples have produced enormous amounts of seed in some areas.  In certain cases, this has delayed leaf emergence, especially in the upper portions of the tree. Why did this happen?  What triggered it?
We know that stress can cause trees and shrubs to put more energy into seed production.   The strategy seems to produce lots of seed in case the “mother” plant dies.  This large expenditure of energy means that there was less energy left over to push out leaves in the spring resulting in delayed leaf emergence. So, let’s look at the likely cause. Remember the flowers and seeds that were produced this year came from buds that were produced last year during the growing season. Therefore, it was a stress that came last year that caused the problem.  Actually, I think it was a stress from the Fall of 2017 through much of the Spring of 2018 that triggered the plants. In the Manhattan area, we had adequate rainfall through October of 2017, but then virtually nothing until May of 2018.  This drought was
severe enough that root systems were likely damaged so that even when rainfall returned, the plant was under moisture stress, especially in the upper portions of the tree.  This stress, then, stimulated the plant to set an abnormally high number of fruit buds resulting in tremendous flowering and seed production this year.
What do we do about this?  First, don’t assume a tree is dead if leaves don’t appear immediately.  Also, don’t assume the top portion of the tree is dead if it is slower to leaf out than the lower portions of the tree.  Give the tree a few more weeks and see what happens. Next, these trees and shrubs don’t have a lot of energy reserves left so they need to be given extra care.  Primarily this means watering as needed.  Keep in mind that too much water is as bad as too little.
Roots need to breathe; they need oxygen.  With the excessive rains much of Kansas has received recently, it may be a while before watering needs to be done.  Just don’t wait too long as the damaged root system will not be as efficient in taking up the water the plant needs.
So when do you start watering? Use a screwdriver to try to penetrate the soil
under the tree.  If it is difficult to push the tang of the screwdriver into the soil, it is time to water.  Water enough so that the soil is moist to a depth of one foot. Use a long-tanged screwdriver, a wooden dowel or a metal rod such as a section of rebar or electric fence pos to test. It will stop when it hits dry soil.

Please share your feedback with the K-State Turf Team!

Thank you for your engagement with the K-State Turf Team! To help us further improve this program, we would like to gather your responses to the questions below. This project is a research study regarding our blog and social media resources as well as some general questions about Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The survey includes 13 brief questions, and we anticipate it will take about 5 minutes of your time.

Your participation in this survey is voluntary, and you do not have to respond to any questions you do not want to answer. This information will only be used for program evaluation purposes, and you will not be identified in any way by the information you provide. We value your input. Thank you for your continued support of the K-State Turf Blog and e-Newsletter.

You can fill out the anonymous survey by clicking here:


Hot off the press….Grub Management in Turfgrass Using Insecticides

This new publication by Dr. Raymond Cloyd addresses factors that influence insecticide effectiveness for grub species and offers recommendations for control. To learn more about maximizing the effectiveness of grub control in Turfgrass, be sure to visit K-State Research and Extension Bookstore. 

KGCSA Cliff Dipman Internship Award

The KGCSA Cliff Dipman Internship Award consists of two $2,000 awards to Kansas State University students working at a golf course whose superintendent is a member of the KGCSA. One will be directed to a student doing an internship at a 9-hole golf course, and one doing an internship at an 18-hole facility. Applications will be reviewed by the KGCSA Board of Directors. All decisions of the committee will be final. Applicants will be notified of their status by March 30 of the year submitted.

• Must already be enrolled in a 4-year undergraduate turfgrass program at Kansas State University.
• Must intend to complete a 3- or 6-month internship at a golf course in the state of Kansas whose superintendent is a member of the KGCSA.
• One award will be available for a 9-hole intern and one for an 18-hole intern.
• Return completed application to: KGCSA Awards Program, 1712 Claflin, 2021 Throckmorton, Manhattan, KS 66506 or cdipman@ksu.edu by March 15, 2019.
• Application information can be found here

About the Namesake:
Cliff Dipman was the Golf Course Superintendent at Manhattan Country Club for 31 years. He has served as a mentor to countless students who have become successful golf course superintendents in Kansas and across the United States. Year after year, Cliff recognized the importance of the internship in complementing academics

Thank you, Exhibitors!

Dear Kansas Turfgrass Conference Exhibitors:

We would like to express our appreciation for your contribution to the
outstanding trade show at the 68th annual Kansas Turfgrass Conference in
conjunction with KNLA. We recognize the value of the trade show to our
conference and to the turfgrass industry. Your willingness to provide
information to the participants is very important.

The total registration over the 2 ½ days was about 556 attendees.

We hope the extra trade show time we built into the program helped, but
we would appreciate any feedback you might have for improvements.

The dates for the 2019 Kansas Turfgrass Conference – December 4, 5 & 6
at the Hilton Conference Center in Manhattan, Kansas. We hope you will join us at this new conference location.

The 2019 Kansas Turfgrass Field Day will be held on Thursday, August 1
at the K-State Research & Extension Center in Olathe.

If we can ever be of assistance to you, please let us know. Again,
thanks for your outstanding support!

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christy & Cliff Dipman

Jared Hoyle
Jack Fry
Steve Keeley
Megan Kennelly
Cheryl Boyer