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K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Month: April 2017

It’s not how fast you mow, It’s how well you mow fast – PART 2

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Last year in April I posted about the John Deere “Its not how fast you mow, It’s how well you mow fast” and talked about how we mow our lawn.  Well it is that time of year again.


Click the link below for more information on how fast you should actually mow, mowing height, mowing frequency, clippings, mowing pattern and more.


But this year we are introducing updated KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension publications about mowing.  These two updated publications are for homeowners and professional turf managers.  Enjoy!

Homeowners Publication – http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=615

Professional Series – http://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=712


“Hey large patch, quit Mickey Mousing around”

This is just for fun. Check out what my colleague Dr. Jack Fry and our student Mingying Xiang found today. I’ve seen a lot of large patch over the years, but it has never stared back at me quite like this.

(Original photo by Mingying Xiang)

Or, maybe it is Minnie, since the women on the large patch team outnumber Jack two-to-one:

This patch is in Latitude 36 bermudagrass on a sand base, in a sports field location.

On a more serious note, as a reminder, the 2017 Chemical Control of Turfgrass Diseases is now available online, as Jared just posted about.

Just for fun, here are a few more photos from Dr. Fry. It’s like a Rorschach test – what do YOU see?

Butterfly patch?


Mitosis patch? (Telophase)


Valentine patch

Snowman patch?

Pine tip blight – Is it happening in a tree near you?

(by Megan Kennelly, K-State Plant Pathology)

I’m seeing some pine candles just starting to emerge. Are YOU seeing any shoot growth yet? Newly emerging pine shoots are susceptible to tip blight, so here is a yearly reminder of the nuts and bolts of this disease.

The classic symptom of tip blight is stunting and browning of new shoots and needles, as shown in the two photos above.


Pine tip blight is a fungal disease that can affect Austrian, Scots, ponderosa, and mugo pines. The disease is most severe on mature trees (20 years or older). Repeated infections over several years can kill large sections of trees or entire trees. Here are some Frequently-Asked-Questions about tip blight.

1) What is the pathogen?

Tip blight is caused by a fungus that has been called both Sphaeropsis and Diplodia over the years. The current name is Diplodia. Don’t let the name changes trouble you. The most important consideration is to recognize the disease, and to be able to distinguish it from other pine problems such as Dothistroma needle blight or pine wilt. To learn more how to compare/contrast those diseases, you can check out this page: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/l722.pdf


2) When does pine tip blight occur?

Tip blight is a spring disease. The fungus survives the winter in previously-infected tissue. Then, during spring rains, the fungal spores splash around and infect the newly developing pine shoots (candles) just as they start to grow (usually in mid-late April).

pine tip blight spores
Pine tip blight spores in the microscope. Spores are spread during spring rains, and they infect new shoots.


3) What are the symptoms of pine tip blight?

 The symptoms become obvious in late May or early June when the infected shoots and needles are not growing right. The shoots are stunted, and the emerging needles are stunted and brown – see the photos at the top of this post. Small, sticky resin droplets often form on the infected needles. The damage usually starts in the lower branches and works its way up over several years. In trees that have been repeatedly infected for many years, damage is distributed throughout the crown.

In addition to infecting the newest growth, the fungus can invade older tissues when trees are highly stressed or if they are wounded (by hail, storm damage, etc).

Tip blight can affect older wood along with the newest shoot tips. This photo shows both.
In this tree, the tip blight fungus has invaded some older parts of the wood, resulting in major tree damage.


Interestingly, white pines are not susceptible to the tip blight phase, but they are susceptible to this “canker form” of the disease if they are wounded.

In late summer or fall, tiny black spore-producing structures (called pycnidia) are formed on the scales of 2-year-old cones — it looks like black pepper has been shaken onto the undersides of the cones.

tip blight on cones
Tip blight on cones. Click to zoom, and you’ll see black specks. Those are the fungal spore-producing bodies.


Tip blight can be confused with winter damage or infestation by the pine tip moth. However, winter damage usually causes shoot or needle death before the new needles emerge in the spring, and it is sometimes restricted to one side of the tree (the side facing the prevailing wind). Unlike tip blight, the tip moth causes a hollowed-out area in the tip/bud area, and the larvae are sometimes present. Plus, tip moth is more common in young trees. The timing and pattern of symptoms, and the age of the tree, can help you with the diagnosis.

In extreme cases tip blight can be confused with pine wilt. To avoid confusion, look carefully at the symptoms and compare them to the descriptions and photos here and in other resources. Pines can be infected with both diseases simultaneously. If there is any doubt, bring a sample to your local K-State Research and Extension office to be forwarded to the K-State diagnostic lab.

Managing tip blight:

4) Does pruning help?

 Removal of dead branches can improve the appearance of diseased trees but will not prevent infection. Many of the spores are produced on cones that remain attached to the tree. In addition, tissues that look healthy can secretly harbor the tip blight fungus. That is, there are “hidden infections” that we can’t even see. Usually, pruning for tip blight means pruning off lower branches first, since they tend to be the first to become infected. Then the pruning task moves up the tree as the disease progresses over the years. If a tree reaches a point where it is no longer pleasing or functional for the site, “one-cut pruning” (ie, tree removal) might be the best possibility.


5) What other tree care should I provide?

Trees should be adequately (not excessively!) watered  to maintain tree vigor. This will help a tree fight off tip blight on its own. When a tree is drought stressed it has less energy and resources to put into defenses against pathogens.

 6) Will a fungicide be effective?

 This is a tricky question. The trouble is, unlike smaller plants like wheat, tomatoes, or soybeans, there aren’t many studies out there to tell us about tip blight “thresholds.” As a general rule, if a tree has at least 30-50% of branches infected, the fungus is pretty well entrenched and it will be difficult for fungicides to reduce disease, even if used over multiple years.   And, if there is a lot of “canker” type infection in older wood, it is hard for fungicides to work. If a smaller portion of the canopy is affected, and it is mostly the “tip-blight” phase, fungicides are more likely to be successful over time. Finally, consider the aesthetics and site-enhancing value of the tree. In trees where the disease is caught early, and fungicides are used at the right time each year for multiple years, the disease can be reduced over time.


7) Okay, so what is the right time for fungicides?

If you opt to use fungicides, the critical time for fungicides is when the new shoots are expanding in the spring. If fungicides are applied at this time, new disease can be prevented. It is not a one-shot-deal, however, and not even a two-shot-deal. Fungicides will likely be needed each year to protect new annual growth. Each year, the first application should be made when new shoots start to elongate, which is usually around the third week of April. The tree should be sprayed again 10 to 14 days later, and possibly again 10 to 14 days after that if it is a wet year and the site has a history of disease. The timing should be adjusted slightly depending on host development in the spring, since every year is different. Spraying after this critical time will not be effective, because infection has already occurred and cannot be “cured.” Once you see symptoms it is too late. Every year I get a question or two from someone wanting to spray in later summer or fall, and that is not going to work.

8) What should I spray, and how should I spray it?

 Several fungicides are labeled for pine tip blight. Thorough coverage is essential. A high-pressure sprayer may be needed to deliver the fungicide to the tops of tall trees. Homeowners should consider using a professional tree care service, especially for large trees where getting good coverage is difficult. Some fungicides (active ingredients) are listed on the last page here:


The user must read and follow all label instructions.

9) What about injections?

Fungicide injections have been studied, but so far results have been inconsistent/ineffective and injections are not recommended at this time.

Got more questions? Feel free to email me at kennelly@ksu.edu


2017 Chemical Control for Turfgrass Diseases

(by Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)
Dr. Kennelly posted a couple days ago about large patch and some other diseases that we have or will be seeing soon.  Well to stay ahead of the game the University of Kentucky and Rutgers University have updated the Chemical Weed Control for Turfgrass Diseases Publication.  This is a great resource.  I would recommend printing it off and keeping it around. Click the link below for your free copy.


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

Turfgrass management by the numbers!

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

One of the most common question I am asked is…

“What do you think about this product?  Would you apply it?”

Well sometimes I have had experience with that product and sometimes I have not.  If not I go look for the research and look at the numbers and then respond to the question with the best information that I have. It is then up to the superintendent to apply that product or not.

You can look at the numbers as well.  You can run your own test trials and see the results with your own eyes.  In the article below titled “I used product X and my greens have never looked so good!” hits on some great points.

  • If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
  • Ask for data to backup claims of that product.
  • Make test plots at your location. (If you have a check remember if you don’t do anything at all to that area it will not look as good as the surrounding turf.  You have to keep everything the same except what you are testing.)
  • Record numbers!
  • Did a product actually work or was it just a better year for growing turfgrass.  (Well in KS it is never easy growing turfgrass.)

Click here for the entire article – https://dcsturf.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/i-used-product-x-and-my-greens-have-never-looked-so-good/ 

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

Spring cool-season turfgrass seedings – Why they fail

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

When we talk about cool-season turfgrass seeding timing I always think the fall.  Well all around town I keep seeing more and more people seeding their lawn this spring.  I don’t want to say you are wasting your time because there are a couple reasons that you might need or have to seed in the spring but most success is achieved if seeding cool-season turfgrass in the fall.

There are several reasons Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue lawns are better seeded in the fall than in the spring.

These include:

  • Some of the most serious lawn weeds such as crabgrass and foxtail emerge in the spring. Since they are warm-season weeds, they will compete and often crowd out young, tender cool-season grasses during the heat of summer.
  • The most stressful time of year for cool-season grasses is summer, not winter. Poorly established lawns may die out during the summer due to heat and drought stress.
  • A lawn often gets more use during the summer, leading to increased compaction and traffic stress. Young plants have a hard time surviving the high traffic during the summer.
Weed competition when establishing cool-season from seed in the spring.

If an area needs to be established in the spring, sodding is much more likely to be successful than seeding. Sodding provides stronger, more mature plants that are better able to withstand stress and prevent weed invasion.

Every homeowner needs to know the difference between Roundup & Roundup for Lawns.

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

The other day after eating dinner I was watching TV trying to finally relax.  A commercial came on about Roundup for lawns….  I thought to myself “Oh man, This is going to cause a lot of confusion!”

There is a huge difference in the active ingredients in Roundup compared to Roundup for Lawns.  That is why it is so important to know what you are applying.

Dr. Kevin Frank at Michigan State University just posted a great article about the difference between Roundup and Roundup for Lawns.  Check it out here.


Every homeowner needs to know the difference!

I will make a prediction.  Due to the confusion with the names of these products.  I will get at least one phone call this year where someone has killed their entire lawn with glyphosate because they thought they could use Roundup on their lawn and they put out the wrong product.

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

April showers bring May flowers, and ramps up disease pressure

(Megan Kennelly)

Coming soon to a zoysiagrass fairway near you…

We have had a crazy spring so far, with temperatures up and down. We started with widespread drought, and now many parts of the state are soggy.

I was about to share a big list of information about some spring turfgrass diseases when I realized that our most excellent neighbor to the east, Dr. Lee Miller, laid out some very helpful details just a few days ago.

I personally have not seen large patch yet, but I’m sure it is coming. Large patch LOVES cool, soggy, spring weather.

For some great pointers on dollar spot, large patch, cool season brown patch, summer patch, and more, just roll on over to Lee’s report here at the Missouri Turf Pathology Report.

We have a brief podcast to describe large patch symptoms and biology here:


Congrats to Ross Braun for KSU student award

The KSU Turf Team is always proud of our students.

Horticulture Graduate Student Awarded First Place at K-State Graduate Research Forum

K-State HNR graduate student, Ross Braun competed in the poster competition against other K-State graduate students at the 2017 Kansas State Graduate Research, Arts, and Discovery Forum in Manhattan, KS. Ross placed 1st in the Agricultural Sciences poster session and was awarded a $500 scholarship prize, the title of his poster was “Nitrous Oxide Emissions in a Turfgrass Environment.” Congrats Ross!

For a photo of Ross, check out the HNR Facebook page: