Kansas State University


K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Month: October 2014

New KSU Research and Extension Buffalograss Lawns Publication – Online!

(by Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

We have been working hard reformatting the Turfgrass Extension Publications and have started updating with new content.  The first one off the press is about Buffalograss.

Check it out online!


Got unexplained itchy bites?

(By Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology; and Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

There is a midge that is having a “bumper year” on oaks. There are
actually 2 kinds – one that causes swellings on the veins, the other
rolls the leaf margins inward.  You’ll see the margin-rolling one in the
photo below.

Then, there is a small mite that parasitizes those leaf-rolling midge
larvae. Now here is the bad part – those mites also bite people, leaving
a very itchy spot. It itches more than a mosquito bite and often has a
little pimple in the middle.

I sent some over to Entomology and they confirmed presence of itch mites
in the midges in some of my leaves. I’ll attach Eva Zurek’s (KSU Entomology) pic of a midge
with and without a pregnant female mite on it – you’ll see the round

Oak Midge Larva with No Mite
Oak Midge Larva with Itch Mite

I’ve seen the midge activity in pin oaks all over town this year,
including my own tree.  My husband and I have a bunch of the bites, and
so do many of our neighbors. I’m guessing they blew out of the pin oaks
in the neighborhood while we were all out enjoying the nice weekend
weather. [Somehow, luckily, our son only has 1 or 2. Whew!]

Here is more info:


There were some outbreaks back around 2004-2005. I’m hoping there is at
least another 10 year gap until the next outbreak, because these bites
are nasty!

Also, check out the previous blog post about itch mites….


Dormant Buffalograss Research Update

(By Jared Hoyle and Evan Alderman, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

As I was driving down the road the other day (as I do all the time) I was thinking (that can be trouble), “How can we conserve water in our managed turfgrass systems?”  What is going to happen if regulations are passed and they cut water off for turfgrass applications?  But, in all honestly it is not “if the water gets cut off” it is “when is the water getting cut off”?

This is one of the many reasons we have been researching the use of buffalograss.  Buffalograss is a low (NOT NO) input turfgrass, including water.  There is a lot that is unknown about buffalograss and how it can be used. Not to mention many new cultivars of buffalgorass are being developed for darker green color and longer color retention but much of the past research has been conducted on older cultivars.  Also, many of the recommendations for buffalograss management were all based on the older cultivars of buffalograss.

Some might think the research season for buffalograss is winding down but it is not.  There is still plenty of research to be done and many questions to be answered. This fall, KSU Turfgrass Graduate Student, Evan Alderman, is going to conduct research on dormant buffalograss. Objectives of his research are to investigate the longevity of turf colorants when subjected to simulated golf cart traffic, explore the effects of turf colorants on buffalograss at fairway height, and to evaluate the effects of simulated golf cart traffic on dormant buffalograss.

Ryegrass overseeding in buffalograss fairway prior to trial initiation

Treatments will involve three different turf colorants, as well as a more traditional Perennial Ryegrass overseeded treatment. Turf colorants will be applied when there is approximately 15-20% canopy color left in the buffalograss. Treatments will be replicated four times and will be subjected to simulated golf cart traffic. Traffic treatments will be applied once a week with plots receiving 0, 2, 4, or 8 passes per week. The study will run throughout the late fall, winter, and spring months.

We should get some interesting results.  Ultimately, we hope to find out if we are able to maintain an aesthetically pleasing healthy turfgrass all while maintaining a quality-playing surface for golfers.

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf

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

Staying Ahead of the Curve

(By Jake Reeves, KSU Turfgrass Research)

While it’s near impossible to keep up with what crazy athletic sock/shoe combination is popular or what the difference between leggings and jeggings are (don’t ask me), there is a real value in keeping a pulse on what will keep us current or ahead of coming trends, especially in our field.

Quasi-Innovation at work: Soggy toes from dew, no more with rubber gloves

This can be an exhausting endeavor, but may prove to be the very thing you needed to improve your various management strategies, nutrient inputs, or just the way you communicate. Here are a couple suggestions to keep ahead of (or at least keep up with) the curve:

  1. Get on Twitter. K-State Turfgrass, other universities, and companies you rely on are constantly posting information. Twitter makes for a great filter for larger articles as you can skim through the individual tweets to find pertinent information.
  2. Go to local field days or other hands on training sessions. You will certainly learn some great information from the actual session, but the conversations you strike up with other turfgrass managers or like-minded folks may shine new light on an old topic.
  3. Engage with your community. People outside of your profession can give hints to what trends may very well be coming within your industry. Do your constituents want Free Trade Organic Gluten Free “thing-a-ma-bobs” or would they prefer practical Good Ole Joe “thing-a-ma-bobs”? Societal climates are always changing, so it’s great to keep tabs on what’s in your area.
  4. Read. Industry magazines, newspapers, online articles (this blog!), almost anything… I can’t count the number of times I’ve come across a turfgrass article simply by reading online headlines.  Many times it’s simply a confirmation of something the industry has been discussing for years; adding validity to the topic. Sometimes the article is inaccurate, but it helps us understand where the information comes from that the public often brings to us.

Those are just a few excellent tools to not lose sight of what may or may not be coming our way.

And of course, don’t be afraid to use your own mind and create the innovation that all of us are looking for.

Tree Leaves and Turfgrass

(by Ward Upham, KSU Research and Extension)

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are rapidly falling from deciduous trees so it’s a good time to stop and think about options for handling the litter. Although a scattering of leaves won’t harm the lawn, excessive cover prevents sunlight from reaching turfgrass plants.

Turf left in this state for an extended period will be unable to make the carbohydrates needed to carry it through the winter. There are options for dealing with the fallen leaves other than bagging them up and putting them out for the trash collector. Composting is a great way to handle the refuse. Compost can then be used in the vegetable garden and flowerbeds. If you do not compost, you can mow leaves with a mulching mower and let shredded leaves filter into the turf canopy. (A side-discharge mower also will work, but it won’t shred the leaves as thoroughly.) This method will be most effective if you do it often enough that leaf litter doesn’t become too thick. Mow while you can still see grass peeking through the leaves.

You may wonder whether this practice will be detrimental to the lawn in the long run. Research at Michigan State University in which they used a mulching mower to shred up to about one pound of leaves per square yard of lawn (one pound is equal to approximately 6 inches of leaves piled on the grass) for five consecutive years, found no long-term effects of the shredded leaves on turf quality, thatch thickness, organic content of the thatch, or soil test results (pH, nutrients, etc.). If you mow leaves and have a cool-season lawn, it makes sense to be on a fall nitrogen fertilization program and core-aerate in the fall (things you should be doing anyway). If you have a warm-season lawn, you can still use this technique but wait to fertilize and core-aerate until next late May or early June. (Ward Upham)

Raudenbush Receives Chris Stiegler Turfgrass Science Travel Award

Zane Raudenbush, Ph.D. student in Turfgrass Science has been selected as a recipient of the 2014 Chris Stiegler Turfgrass Science Student Travel Award.  His application was one of the top 6 out of 22 highly qualified applicants.  The award check for $1,000 will be presented to him during the Division C-5 Turfgrass Science Business Meeting, which is on Wednesday, November 5th, beginning at 10:00 AM (Long Beach Convention Center, Seaside Ballroom A). Congratulations Zane!

Kansas Fall Color Parade

Fall colors – you’ve got to love ’em. If you are thinking about adding fall color to your landscape, now is the time to be out and looking around landscapes, nurseries, and even native areas to see what you like best. Kansas landscapes have a lot to offer to the autumn artist’s palette.

Our KSU shrub guide is one example of resources for info on fall color:


I’d love to see a few fall color photos coming in. Send me a photo or 2 of the best fall colors that YOU are seeing, and we’ll add them here as the next few weeks go by. Email them to kennelly@ksu.edu or go to our Facebook page and you should be able to add them to the “comments” fields below my fall color pics.  See https://www.facebook.com/KSUTurf and find my post with the fall colors.

To kick it off, here are a couple from me, from Konza Prairie:


Alright – I’m adding a few more now;

“It’s raining rice”

Are weevil larvae falling from the sky? Sounds like sci-fi, but it’s real.

You can read more about it in the Kansas Insect News:


The same weevils grow in acorns and make holes in them. If you’ve ever wondered where those holes in acorns come in, see the above link.

Image credit:

Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

“EPA grants Nemacur extension”

From Golf Course Management:


Text from the above source:

“GCSAA learned yesterday that the EPA has granted its request for the extension of the end-use date for fenamiphos (Nemacur/Bayer). Golf course superintendents will now have until Oct. 6, 2017, to use existing stocks of Nemacur, an organophosphate-class chemical, which is used to control root-knot, root-lesion, sting, lance and ring nematodes. The extension amounts to a three-year reprieve for turfgrass managers, who were previously staring down an Oct. 6, 2014, cutoff for using exsisting stocks of Nemacur. Watch the government relations page at www.gcsaa.org for additional information.”