Kansas State University


K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Month: September 2014

Chilling causes stylish zebra striped bermudagrass, and Megan’s retire-early money-making fashion scheme

Who is this fashionable guy?  We’ll get to that in a sec…




Thanks to Holly Dickman, Ellis County Horticulture Agent, for sending in the lawn photos.  Holly came across some bermudagrass with these very funky stripes. What causes this? This is caused by frost damage. Why the squiggles? I can’t find it now, but several years ago I stumbled across an article by some physicists where they modeled heat fluxes/temperature and came up with a model to describe how and why this happens. It was full of big scary equations I did not understand.  Will there be lasting damage? No – this is a temporary condition, and the lawn will even out and go uniformly dormant as cool fall temperatures become more consistent.

Then, I had a thought – why not capitalize on this funky pattern? I have seen very interested plaids, stripes, etc., when it comes to golf attire. So I quickly came up with my prototype above. I’m off to the patent office – I’m sure I’ll be raking in the big-time money pretty soon 🙂



Itch mites!

Some of you might remember an outbreak of itch mites a few years ago. Itch mites are associated with oak leaf marginal gall. I’ve seen a fair bit of oak leaf marginal gall activity this year. I’m not saying there’s an outbreak of the itch MITE – this is just a “heads up” and reminder that if you are seeing oak leaves with marginal leaf gall, take the cautions outlined in the links below.

Definitely do NOT rake those leaves up into a pile and jump into them!

KSU Entomology has an article here (scroll down to see):


and a fact sheet here:

and here is some more:


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Cool-season turfgrass seeding deadline nears

(By Ward Upham and Jared Hoyle, KSU Research and Extension)

September is the best month to reseed cool-season lawns such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. However, you can get by with an early to mid-October planting for tall fescue. October 15 is generally considered the last day for safely planting or overseeding a tall fescue lawn in the fall. If you do attempt a late seeding, take special care not to allow plants to dry out.  Anything that slows growth will make it less likely that plants will mature enough to survive the winter.

Seedings done after the cut-off date can be successful, but the success rate goes down the later the planting date. Late plantings that fail are usually not killed by cold temperatures but rather desiccation. The freezing and thawing of soils heave poorly rooted grass plants out of the ground, which then dry and die. Keeping plants watered will help maximize root growth before freezing weather arrives.

Tis the Season

(By Zane Raudenbush1, Jared Hoyle1 and Robert Florence2; 1KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension, 2Dept. of Agronomy – Soil Lab Manager)

Fall is an important time for cool season turfgrass species because air and soil temperatures are optimal for carbohydrate accumulation and root growth. However, adequate plant nutrition is essential for these processes to operate at maximum efficiency. The importance of using soil test reports to guide fertilization programs cannot be emphasized enough.  The Kansas State Soil Testing Lab (http://www.agronomy.k-state.edu/services/soiltesting/) provides a variety of high quality testing services for turfgrass managers. Testing for pH, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) can be done for $6.50. A good sampling method is necessary to ensure the soil test results are accurately representing the sampled area. To sample, use a soil probe an extract a 4” to 6” core. The leaf and thatch material should be discarded from the core (see picture). Eight to ten individual cores should be extracted and combined into a single sample for testing. Results are typically sent back within a week of the lab receiving the sample.  Fertilizer recommendations will also be provided by a county agent or K-State horticulturalist.

Of all the possible nutrients, potassium is of particular interest as temperatures continue to decline, because it helps the plant acclimate to cold temperatures. Some soils, especially golf greens, throughout Kansas are low in potassium, leaving turfgrass more susceptible to winter injury. Deficiencies can be addressed by applying K containing fertilizers, such as, potassium chloride (KCl), potassium sulfate (K2SO4), and potassium nitrate (KNO3). Remember, soil tests are a relatively inexpensive tool, but provide a wealth of knowledge.


#KSUturf Team Needs Your Help!

The KSU Turfgrass Research, Teaching, and Extension program needs your help!  We have developed a short survey about the turfgrass/landscape newsletter, blog, twitter, and Facebook resources.

To better help the turfgrass industry in KS we wanted to get some feedback from you!

So, if you could spare a little bit of time, take the short survey and let us know how we are doing!


Thanks and have a great weekend!

Do you want green zoysiagrass, buffalograss, or bermudagrass in the winter?

(By Jared Hoyle and Ross Braun, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

With the cooler temperatures and the college football kick off the past couple of weeks, I am getting the feeling winter will be here before you know it.  One thing that I do not like about the winter is warm-season grasses go dormant and brown.  Growing up in the South East United States we would remedy this by over-seeding ryegrass into bermudagrass to keep a green lawn year round.

This cultural practice was nice but also required that you have to chemically or physically remove the ryegrass from the bermudagrass in the spring.  Not to mention the plant competition that is occurring trying to grow both a warm- and cool-season grass.

Now people are painting grass green!!!  I just saw an article about painting home lawns in CA and how revenue has increased for lawn care businesses in this area. This was even in the summer when homeowners turned off the water to their lawn.

Check it out, here is the news clip.


KSU Turfgrass Graduate Student, Ross Braun, has been testing all different types of paints for warm-season grasses and the best application volumes, timings, and application methods. .  His Master’s Thesis was just recognized in The First Cut by GCSAA.


After working with Ross over the past year and a half I do remember Ross emphasizing how important it is when you are painting turf to make sure you get an application of paint down before the turfgrass goes 100% dormant.  This would be when there is about 15-30% green color remaining in the turfgrass, which is soon approaching.

With the cooler temperatures and college football just reminded me that it is getting close to the time to paint if you are going to try it out this year.

Some other points that Ross suggests when painting warm-season turf are:

  • Calibrate with paint and not just water.
  • Check the label or ask the company to which nozzles are the best to use.
  • Normal tank agitation is required.
  • Keep a high-density turf (paint works better on denser turf).
  • Stay off the paint for 1 hr after painting.
  • Keep equipment off for at least 24 hrs.

Until next time, hope everyone has a great weekend!



Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf and Ross Braun @Ross_Braun

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf

A turf puzzle – what do YOU think?

(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)

Thanks to Jamie Hancock, Horticulture Extension Agent from Shawnee County, for sending these in. Check out the photos below. What do you think happened? You can post in a comment here or on Facebook, and we’ll share some answers.  Full disclosure – we don’t know 100% what happened, but Jamie and I have some thoughts. Let’s see what you come up with, too.



ALERT – More Sightings of Fall Armyworms!!!

(by Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Just yesterday I was out on an extension visit and came across more fall armyworm (FAW) damage.  Pulled the turf back and found some small FAW.  To get more information on what FAW look like, check out one of the latest blog posts about identification, cultural control, and a little bit about chemical controls for home owners.


Fall Armyworm damage in higher mown turf

With the amounts of sightings increasing I thought I would throw a list of chemical controls for turfgrass professionals for FAW.

FAW and all caterpillar pests are best controlled with insecticides when they are still small.  When the caterpillars grow you will have to use a higher rate to achieve control.

Fall Armyworm pupa
Active Ingredient Trade Name Additional Information
acephate Orthene TTO 75WP, Orthene TTO 97 (golf course and sod farm only)
bifenthrin Talstar GC Flowable Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP)
carbaryl Sevin 80 WSP, Sevin SL
chlorantraniliprole Acelepyrn
cyfluthrin Tempo SC Ultra (landscape turf only)RUP, Tempo 20 WP (Golf course only)
deltamethrin DeltaGuard GC 5SC RUP
halofenozide Mach 2 2SC
lambda-cyhalothrin Scimitar CS (landscape turf only RUP
spinosad Conserve 1SC
trichlorfon Dylox 80 T&O

Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf