Kansas State University


K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Month: May 2016

Slime molds!

Thanks to Ron Reese for sending in these great photos of slime molds! I’ve seen the purple-gray type before but I have not seen the orange one.



Slime molds do not damage the turf. They do not invade the plant tissue – they eat bacteria on the surface. If they are a nuisance you can use a rake or broom to dust them away, or blast with a hose. Or, just keep them around as a fun conversation piece in your grass.

Slime molds will also grow in mulch, on tree stumps, and on other areas of the landscape.


“I’m not ready to be thinking about brown patch, Jack”

I was out at Rocky Ford this morning planning some projects with my colleague Dr. Jack Fry and our student Mingying Zhang. I was enjoying the clouds and thinking how lucky I am to be able to work outside at least part of the time… what a lovely morning…

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When, suddenly, Jack said, “I think there’s some brown patch over here.”

Sure enough – there it was!

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A closer inspection revealed the lesions:


Brown patch likes moisture, and we’ve had no shortage of that. Brown patch also likes warm nights (temps about 68 or higher), and we have had a few of those in the past few days. So, there you go. I was not quite ready to be thinking about brown patch, but brown patch does not care what I think! Also, this was a newly-seeded stand (last fall) and it did just get a boost of quick-release N (for a study), so it was juiced up and susceptible. We didn’t see it elsewhere, in less-juicy turf.

Brown patch conditions will be fading, so symptoms in our plot will probably fade too.  The nighttime lows will be cooling off in the next days. For example, those lows will be in the low-mid 60’s (Kansas City area), upper 50s to low 60’s (Manhattan), and upper 50’s-low 60’s (Goodland), depending on which forecasting service you look at. With cooler temps, any brown patch activity should cease, but it may be back again when summer conditions kick in for good.

For more information on brown patch you can check out some information HERE.

Dollar spot management, and resistance reminders

Dollar spot is active during temperatures of  65-85 F, and we definitely have had those conditions lately.

dollar spot

What to do? Rather than reinvent the wheel on describing potential management regimes, below is the dollar spot information from the excellent fungicide guide from University of Kentucky (for the full guide click HERE). (Oh I’m also excited to announce that one of the authors, Paul Vincelli, will be one of our speakers at the Kansas Turf Conference later this year).

But hold on – as an important side note – in a study at KSU a few years ago we found that 63 of the 65 dollar spot isolates (strains) we tested from across Kansas were fully resistant to thiophanate-methyl. (The study by my former M.S. student Jesse Ostrander was published HERE). Resistant isolates will grow through thiophanate-methyl like you didn’t do anything. I don’t think I know anyone relying on that material by itself for dollar spot, but this is just a heads up that resistance is definitely a problem for that product. I did have a conversation a year or two ago with someone using thiophanate-methyl plus a low rate of chlorothalonil and they had a lot of breakthrough. We did not test their isolates, but I’m guessing they had resistance to the thiophanate-methyl, and then the lower rate of the chlorothalonil was not enough to get them through the window they were hoping to cover. (Thiophanate methyl is a good product for some other diseases).

In addition, some of the other materials are at risk so be sure to rotate among mode-of-action groups. Some labels provide information about rotations.

What is YOUR dollar spot plan? Shoot me an email, or pop over to our Facebook account and leave a comment. I’ll share any great tips that you share.

Okay – now here is the guide. You can click the images below to make them bigger.



Aerification, part 2

Jared had a great post last week called Aerification… Some people love it, some think it’s a cuss word

There was a link to a nice USGA article about the benefits of aerification.

As a plant pathologist, I will second everything that is in there. I know, it’s hard to aerify when everything is looking awesome, but promoting drainage, getting organic matter under control, and encouraging root growth now will help prevent problems later (AUGUST!) when everything hits the fan.

Here is what we do NOT want.

Extreme puffiness:

puffy-and-hand-2 puffy-and-hand

Organic matter buildup (leads to poor drainage, heat retention, and roots crashing and burning in the summer):

organic-dark-layers putting-green-too-much-organic-matter-2010

Here are some of those sad roots:

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And, here is where those conditions led to Pythium root rot:



Aerification can be a pain, but it can be a good friend.

aerification-holes-growth-may-2015 layers and aeration hole

Nozzles and water quality, you snooze you lose

Nozzles and water quality? Does that make you yawn?

Let’s start with nozzles


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 (unless it’s a hand-sprayer, in which case I guess you count the cost of the donuts to feed that person walking around). 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.

(Gee… I really need a donut!)

megan donut

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.

Okay – now onto water quality.

Water quality? Snooze?

I just said that nozzles are the last thing to touch the materials before it goes soaring through the air and smacks into the plant. Water? That’s the stuff that cozies up with the product as soon as it hits the tank and stays with it the whole way.

Pop quiz – Which of these can affect pesticide performance?

  • Water pH
  • Water hardness
  • Dissolved minerals
  • Suspended solids

Or – you guessed it – all of the above.

Do you know what the pH of your water is? When is the last time you tested it?

There is an excellent publication on The Impacts of Water Quality on Pesticide Performance from Purdue. It is an easy read that discusses these factors with some pointers about testing. For example, pH can be testing using easy at-home test strips.

Be sure to follow all label instructions about water quality. Some pesticides are very sensitive to high pH, for example.

Don’t forget about some of those basic nuts and bolts, like nozzles, calibration, and water. If you don’t test them out now and then, there could be problems lurking that you don’t know about.


Spring fertilizer won’t make large patch worse

Can I fertilize my zoysiagrass now? I’m seeing large patch.



Large patch is caused by Rhizoctonia solani AG 2-2LP. Brown patch of cool season turf is caused by closely related strains of R. solani. We know that fertilizer during brown patch season will enhance disease.

So – does spring fertilization increase the severity of large patch?

KSU collaborated with Dr. Lee Miller at University of Missouri to answer this exact question. The paper was just published in Crop, Forage, & Turfgrass Management and the abstract appears HERE. One of the authors, Ross Braun, worked on this project as part of his M.S. project.

At both sites, we applied fertilizer (calcium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, or urea) when the 5-day 2-inch soil temperatures reached 60 or 70ᵒF in spring or fell to 70ᵒF in fall. On those dates, the turf received 0.75 lb N/1,000 sq feet. Those treatments also received some summer nitrogen, too, with 0.25 lb N/1,000 in each of June, July, and August. So, all treatments received a total of 1.5 pounds N/1,000 sq feet/year. These early spring, late spring, and fall treatments were compared to summer-only controls which also received a total of 1.5 lb N/1,000 sq ft applied as 0.5 pounds in each of June, July, and August. We measured percent green cover using digital image analysis. Both studies were done in the cultivar ‘Meyer’ at fairway height.

Image of plot, and digital image with green pixels captured:

example example-reverse

The grand summary is that the spring fertilizer applications at either 60 or 70ᵒF did not lead to higher large patch severity compared to the standard summer-only treatment. This builds on and confirms prior KSU work by PhD student Ken Obasa  (click HERE for the abstract of the publication) where we also found that spring applications did not enhance disease, though in that study we did not use defined soil temperature thresholds. In that study we found that spring and fall fertility sometimes had greater green color than summer fertility treatments.

Right now in Manhattan, our 2-inch average soil temps are in the low to mid-60’s, so we are in the range where those spring fertilizer applications were shown to be “safe.” We did not look at fertility at temperatures lower than that. So, you should be in the clear, and a little N may boost green color and help you grow out of the disease symtoms.

What about nitrogen source? On some of the rating dates at both sites, disease severity was higher in plots treated with ammonium sulfate compared to other sources. The effect was not huge, but was significant, so you might want to shy away from ammonium sulfate if you have some large patch at your site.

Dr. Miller’s program is following up with even more studies to hone in on large patch and cultural practices, so we will stay tuned to see how those turn out.

Turfgrass Selfie Series #2 [VIDEO] – Wild Violet Control

(By Jared Hoyle; KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

“We have hit the mother load!”  Behind Throckmorton Hall I ran into the largest patch of Wild Violet I have ever seen so we decided that would be a good Turfgrass Selfie Series Video. Enjoy!

IMG_0750Also, we tried to work out some of the kinks from the first episode but still have a ways to go to get all the kinks out. The goal of this video series is to use our phones and to make short videos without too much editing and taking too much time but to deliver insightful information. With that being said we can’t cover everything in the short video but at least it gets the basic information out there.

So for the second Turfgrass Selfie Series we bring you wild violet control… “We have hit the mother load!”

For more information go to www.ksu.edu/turf