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K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Category: Cultural Practices

In the midst of a summer with 100+ F temperatures

In 2016, Dr. Fry wrote a blog post titled “Bentgrass Declining? It’s from Western Europe – You Live in Kansas”. Last year we faced high summer temperatures and this year we are facing the same. Like many across the state and beyond, the bentgrass greens at Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center are stressed.  To address the summer stress on bentgrass greens I think that it is a good idea to revisit this topic.

Below is Dr. Fry’s article. Enjoy!

In the midst of a summer with 100+ F temperatures, it’s worthwhile to consider some of creeping bentgrass’s preferences and management strategies that might be helpful to reduce its stress, and yours.  See, the thing about creeping bentgrass on putting greens is….

  • It came from Western Europe. You live in Kansas.
Average July maximum temperature (°F) Average July minimum temperature (°F)
London, England 72 55
Manhattan, Kansas 90 68

 

  • Its roots die first, then its leaves. Keep the roots happy and you’ll have happy bentgrass and happy golfers.
  • Its roots prefer to grow at 55 to 65 °F; root growth slows even as low as 80 °F. This summer, temperatures near the surface of greens have been over 100 °F.
  • Faults with construction, drainage, management practices may produce a quality turf surface for 10 or 11 months of the year. It’s the one or two other months that cause problems.   If you want to avoid bentgrass decline, then start with a good rootzone.
  • Rootzones that hold water are warmer and also have less oxygen for root growth. If you don’t have an ideal rootzone, work to improve it in the fall and spring with aggressive core aerification and topdressing.
  • The benefits of coring are often seen during summer stress. Why are there green polka dots within the brown turf?  Turf in those spots has roots!

  • Opening the green’s surface with small, solid tines or spikes can help with water infiltration and root growth during midsummer. Don’t overdo it – the turf is under stress.
  • Although superintendents suspect (and often hope) that a disease is causing the problem in mid-summer, over half of the samples that are evaluated in our lab show no disease.
  • In our climate, air movement across the surface of the green is critical for bentgrass health. If your greens are surrounded, let them free!
  • Maximize summer airflow from the south, but also vent to the north (just like opening two windows to get cross flow in your house).
  • Hand watering can be used to address deficiencies in water distribution of the irrigation system, target localized dry spots, and deal with inconsistencies in water retention and drainage in the root zone. It shouldn’t be overdone or underdone- train and use your best help for handwatering.
  • Syringing refers to applying a light mist of water droplets to leaves only, and then relying upon evaporation of that water to help cool the leaf surface. How effective do you think that is on a humid, July day?  Not very, unless you use a fan to encourage evaporation from the leaf!
  • Trees use light for photosynthesis, so does bentgrass. If trees are shading the green, which is getting the light – the tree, or the turf?
  • Cultivars that are more dense get less Poa invasion, and Poa is more likely to die during summer stress than bentgrass. Plant newer, denser cultivars to reduce Poa.( The photo shows Poa checking out in the heat.)

  • Light applications of nitrogen can be beneficial during heat stress (0.10 lb. N/1,000 sq. ft.)
  • Newer cultivars have been shown to be more heat tolerant than Penncross, but even these will experience decline during prolonged heat.
  • Clean up laps are often the first to show symptoms of stress. Why?  Excessive traffic and wear.  Have you considered a dedicated mower with a slightly higher mowing height for the clean up lap?  Do you skip clean up laps on some days?

Rethinking Zoysiagrass for Home Lawns

Kansas State University teamed with Texas A&M to develop a new cultivar of zoysiagrass called Innovation, that’s suitable for lawns and golf courses. Pictured is Ted Wilbur (left), owner of Sod Shop in Wichita, Kansas and Jack Fry, horticulture professor at Kansas State University. Wilbur was the first to grow Innovation commercially in Kansas.

K-State, Texas A&M develop new cold-hardy variety for home landscapes and golf courses

OLATHE, Kan. – Who doesn’t love the look and feel of a soft, green carpet of grass underfoot? Even better if it’s resistant to pests and requires less fertilizer than other grasses. A Kansas State University professor believes that zoysiagrass can fit the bill for home landscapes – even in Kansas and surrounding states.

Zoysiagrass is well known as a warm-season grass commonly grown across southern tier states for its dense, weed-resistant and slow-growing nature (think less mowing), plus it requires about half the water needed for cool-season grasses typically grown in the nation’s midsection.

Those who choose to grow zoysia should be aware, however, that as a warm-season grass, it goes dormant and turns brown in mid-October and may not green up again until late April.

“The determining factor for whether any warm-season grass that can be used here is winter survival,” said Kansas State University horticulture professor Jack Fry.

Kansas and other states across the middle of the country are in what’s called a transition zone, where both warm- and cool-season grasses can grow but weather extremes can prove challenging and sometimes injure or kill the grass. In order to improve on a longtime favorite zoysia called Meyer, Fry and his K-State colleagues teamed with Texas A&M Agrilife researchers to develop a new zoysia cultivar.

Their aim was to develop a cultivar that is as cold-tolerant as Meyer for areas in the transition zone, but also to offer improved characteristics, such as finer leaf blades and even better density which blocks out weeds.

The K-State team worked with Ambika Chandra, associate professor at Texas A&M, to develop a new hybrid that was ultimately named Innovation. The new hybrid can withstand the cold that can sometimes blanket the central U.S. as well as Meyer does, but also exhibits better quality, meaning it has a darker green color, finer leaf blades, better density and good uniformity.

Zoysiagrass is already widely used on golf course tees and fairways in Kansas and across the transition zone, but less so on home lawns, Fry said. When drought water restrictions come about, however, it’s a good choice for home lawns.

Zoysia, and especially newer cultivars like Innovation, also require less fertilizer or pest treatments to stay healthy than typical cool-season grasses such as tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass.

To develop the new cultivar, the researchers used traditional plant breeding, crossing cold-hardy types with other southern-adapted types that offered high density and finer-textured leaf blades.

That density results in almost no herbicides being needed during the growing season, Fry said.

To get from initial crosses – about 1,500 in all – to the final product took about 13 years, Fry said. Along the way from those initial crosses, 35 looked promising, so were planted in 5-foot by 5-foot plots in Kansas and Texas and evaluated by the researchers, who then narrowed the list to seven.

Those top seven hybrids were tested at additional sites across the transition zone in Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The result is Innovation, which was released for commercial growth and sales in 2015. It is currently available via licensed distributors through a company called Sod Solutions, which has sub-licensed production to 15 sod producers in eight states.

What’s next? A new phase of the K-State-Texas A&M research is under way which aims to identify grasses that have superior resistance to a disease called Large Patch, and there may even be types that are promising for use on golf greens, too, Fry said.

Post featured by: https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/stories/2019/05/zoysia-for-home-lawns.html

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More information about zoysiagrass is available at

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf683.pdf

or in a Clemson University fact sheet, https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/zoysiagrass/

Warm-season Turfgrass Lawn Care Reminders

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Now that the summer weather is finally here it is time to start thinking about maintenance on warm-season turfgrass.  Below are some monthly reminders for everyone that has warm-season turf.


Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass

May – August 15
Fertilize with 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application. Follow the recommendations on the bag. More applications will give a deeper green color, but will increase mowing and may lead to thatch buildup with zoysiagrass. Bermudagrass can also have problems with thatch buildup but thatch is less likely with Bermuda than zoysia. Bermudagrass – Use two to four applications. Zoysiagrass – Use one to two applications. Too much nitrogen leads to thatch buildup.

One Application: Apply in June.
Two Applications: Apply May and July.
Three Applications: Apply May, June, and early August.
Four Applications: Apply May, June, July, and early August.

Remember to look and see if you are using a quick release nitrogen source or a slow release nitrogen source.  If you use a quick release source then it is immediately available but only lasts a couple weeks.  Thats why you would have to make a couple of applications like it is listed above.  If you are going to use a slow release source it will tell you on the bag how long the product will last.  Therefore, you might not have to make as many applications.

So generally you want to use a total of 2 to 4lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year for bermudagrass and 1 to 2 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year for zoysiagrass.

June
If grubs have been a problem in the past, apply a product containing imidacloprid by mid July. Imidacloprid can be applied as early as mid May if there are problems with billbugs or May beetle grubs. These products kill the grubs before they cause damage. They are effective and safe but must be watered in before they become active. June is a good time to core aerate a warm-season lawn. Core aeration will help alleviate compaction, increase the rate of water infiltration, improve soil air exchange and help control thatch.

Late-July through August
If you see grub damage, apply a grub killer. If Imidacloprid has been applied, this should not be necessary. Grub killers must be watered in immediately.

For more information check out the Zoyisagrass Lawns Publication at the KSRE Bookstore – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=1451

For more information check out the Bermudagrass Lawns Publication at the KSRE Bookstore – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=586


Buffalograss

June

Fertilize with 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet during June. More applications will give a deeper green color, but can encourage weeds. If it is felt that a second application is needed, apply in July.

If grubs have been a problem in the past, apply a product containing imidacloprid by mid July. Imidacloprid can be applied as early as mid May if there are problems with billbugs or May beetle grubs. These products kill the grubs before they cause damage. They are effective and safe but must be watered in before they become active. Again, I would only treat if grubs have been a problem in the past. Note that the whole area may not need to be treated. The beetles that lay the eggs for the grubs are attracted to lights and moist soil and those areas are most likely to be infested.

Late-July through August

If you see grub damage, apply a grub killer. If imidacloprid has been applied or if grubs have not been a problem in the past, this should not be necessary. Grub killers must be watered in immediately.

For more information check out the Buffalograss Lawns Publication at the KSRE Bookstore – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=1447


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

Bentgrass Putting Green Fertility – Helping or hurting silvery-thread moss?

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

At Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center in Manhattan, KS we have two bentgrass putting greens.  On one of them we “try” to maintain as a common putting green with typical disease, weed and fertility programs.  On the other one we don’t apply any fungicides at all to see what disease we can grow.  On that same putting green we are growing a nice crop of silvery-thread moss as we aren’t doing anything to help suppress or control it.

When I came on board here at KSU in 2013, the KSU Turfgrass Faculty and graduate students were really diving into figuring out programs to help control or suppress silvery-thread moss in bentgrass putting greens.  Quick to find out, controlling moss is not just an application but a program and part of that program is fertility.

I quickly went through some of the past research reports on the KSU Turfgrass Website (https://www.k-state.edu/turf/research/index.html) and came across a short report on the influence of nitrogen source and spray volume on the establishment of silvery-thread moss.  Establishment! Establishment!  Why are we studying the establishment?  Well, knowing what helps establishment also tells you what is going to promote growth of silvery-thread moss.

As Drs. Raudenbush and Keeley explain in the research report, “the practice of spraying small quantities of soluble nitrogen at a relatively high frequency my promote silvery-thread moss growth because the moss lacks a vascular system of removing water and nutrients from the soil.”  Apply small quantities of soluble nitrogen at relative high frequencies is a common practice for managing bentgrass putting greens, so we maybe making the problem worse.

To summarize the project that was conducted in the greenhouse, spraying soluble nitrogen increased moss cover compared with the untreated control and ammonium sulfate has the highest moss cover at all the ratings dates.  Comparing ammonium sulfate to urea, ammonium sulfate caused more than a threefold increase in moss dry weight (At 7 weeks after the initial treatment the moss was harvested, dried and weighed.) and there was no difference between urea and the water only control.

There are many other factors to consider when looking at suppressing or controlling silvery-thread moss including but not limited to; watering, herbicide applications, topdressing and promoting healthy bentgrass. But remember fertility, as it does play a roll in silvery-thread moss management.

For the full report check out Page 12 of the 2014 Kansas State University Turfgrass Research Report – https://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2097/20427/Turfgrass2014.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Got Thatch?

By: Ward Upham

Thatch Control in Warm-Season Lawns

Thatch control for cool-season lawn grasses such as bluegrass and tall fescue is usually done in the fall but now is the time we should perform this operation for warm-season turfgrasses such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass. Because these operations thin the lawn, they should be performed when the lawn is in the best position to recover. For warm-season grasses that time is June through July. Buffalograss, our other common warm-season grass, normally does not need to be dethatched.

When thatch is less than one-half inch thick, there is little cause for concern; on the contrary, it may provide some protection to the crown (growing point) of the turfgrass. However, when thatch exceeds one-half inch in thickness, the lawn may start to deteriorate. Thatch is best kept in check by power-raking and/or core-aerating. If thatch is more than 3/4 inch thick, the lawn should be power-raked. Set the blades just deep enough to pull out the thatch. The lawn can be severely damaged by power-raking too deeply. In some cases, it may be easier to use a sod cutter to remove the existing sod and start over with seed, sprigs or plugs.

If thatch is between one-half and a 3/4- inch, thick, core-aeration is a better choice. The soil-moisture level is important to do a good job of core-aerating. It should be neither too wet nor too dry, and the soil should crumble fairly easily when worked between your fingers. Go over the lawn enough times so that the aeration holes are about 2 inches apart.

Excessive thatch accumulation can be prevented by not over-fertilizing with nitrogen. Frequent, light watering also encourages thatch. Water only when needed, and attempt to wet the entire root zone of the turf with each irrigation.

Finally, where thatch is excessive, control should be viewed as a long-term, integrated process (i.e., to include proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing) rather than a one-shot cure. One power-raking or core-aeration will seldom solve the problem.

K-State Radio Network “Plantorama” – Oversoaked Homelawn Management

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Home lawns have been soaked to the point of oversaturation.  Even if it’s not outright flooding, K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says these conditions can be detrimental to that lawn grass, so a little extra care in lawn management may be in order.

Click the link below for K-State Research and Extension Agriculture Today Radio Program “Plantorama” hosted by Eric Atkinson.

Check out the KSRE bookstore more more information on all things turf! – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Category.aspx?id=528&catId=545

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 Zoysia News

By: Dr. Jack Fry

Meyer Winter Injury

Significant winter injury has occurred on Meyer zoysia throughout the Kansas City area on golf courses – some have suffered more than others. The injury is most pronounced in the following areas:

  • Turf exposed to tree shade (even moderate levels from trees casting shadows from the rough)
  • High traffic areas
  • Areas that don’t drain well

We often try to compare differences among courses and determine why one course had better winter zoysia survival than other.  Ultimately, it seems that cultural practices have less of an impact on the freezing injury observed than the environment in which the zoysia is growing.   The above stresses can be matched directly with plant metabolism:

1) Shade – more light allows higher levels of photosynthesis and carbohydrate production, which is critical to winter survival;

2) Traffic – less compaction allows more oxygen in the soil and more root respiration and growth – high traffic reduces soil oxygen;

3) Drainage – areas that collect water also have lower soil oxygen levels and poor root growth.  In addition, plants growing in saturated areas are subject to crown hydration freezing injury – crowns fully hydrated don’t tolerate low temperatures well. Methods for correcting the above are straight forward, but implementing the changes can be difficult – politically and financially:  removing or thinning trees, redirecting traffic, correcting drainage issues.  If nothing else, the zoysia injury is indicating to turf managers where the problem areas are on the golf course.

 

Pictured above: Zoysia grown in high traffic areas in more prone to winter injury, such as this area surrounding a putting green where golfers enter and exit.

 

Innovation Zoysia is on the Market

Innovation zoysia, the new cultivar developed cooperatively by K-State and Texas A&M is on the market. Ted Wilbur, owner of Sod Shop in Wichita, recently cut and sold the first Innovation sod in the U.S..  He currently has about 25 acres in production – some is available now, some will be available later this summer.

Compared to Meyer zoysia, Innovation has:

  • Darker green color
  • Higher density
  • Finer texture
  • Fewer and smaller seedheads
  • Better billbug resistance
  • Freezing tolerance that is equivalent

Find more about Innovation here: https://sodsolutions.com/industry/innovation-zoysia/

Interested in ‘Innovation’?  Reach out to Sod Shop in Wichita: (316) 838-5888

 

Pictured above on left: Ted Wilbur (left) and Travis Achilles (right) with Sod Shops in Wichita, KS have cooperated with K-State in the production of  ‘Innovation’ zoysiagrass. Pictured above on right: The first ‘Innovation’ sod was cut and delivered to Hesston, KS for use at a local water park.

May Weekend Warrior Reminders

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

This time of year we can be caught of guard when it comes to maintaining our lawn.  Today we have some reminders about maintaining cool-season turfgrass for all you weekend warriors out there!

  • Reminder – Avoid frequent watering to reduce weeds germination and disease.
  • May is time for fertilizing cool-season turfgrass that is going to be irrigated. (See information below from Ward Upham.)
  • Mowing Tip – Only remove 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time and make sure you mow your lawn at the recommended mowing height. For more information on mowing your lawn – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF1155.pdf 
  • Mowing Tip #2 – Retuning your clippings to the lawn can return up to 25% of fertilizer nutrients that would be lost if clippings were to be removed. – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2110.pdf

Fertilize Irrigated Cool-season Lawns in May By Ward Upham

May is an excellent time to fertilize cool-season lawns such as
tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass if they will be irrigated throughout
the summer. Non-irrigated lawns often go through a period of summer
dormancy because of drought and do not need this fertilization.
May is a good time to fertilize because the springtime flush of
growth characteristic of these grasses has tapered off, so the
fertilizer you apply will be less likely to cause excessive shoot growth
than if you fertilized at a full rate in April. Slow-release nitrogen
sources are ideal. These nitrogen sources promote controlled growth,
which is desirable as the stressful summer weather approaches.
Relatively few fertilizers available to the homeowner supply ALL of the
nitrogen in the slowly available form. But one such product that is
widely available is Milorganite. Other such products available in the
retail market include cottonseed meal, alfalfa-based fertilizers, and
any other products derived from plants or animals. (Bloodmeal is an
exception, and contrary to popular belief, the nitrogen it supplies is
quickly available.) These products are all examples of natural organic
fertilizers. They typically contain less than 10 percent nitrogen by
weight, so compared to most synthetic fertilizers, more product must be
applied to get the same amount of nitrogen. Translation: they are more
expensive! Apply enough to give the lawn one pound of nitrogen per 1,000
square feet. For example, if the fertilizer is 6 percent nitrogen by
weight, you will need to apply almost 17 pounds of fertilizer product
per 1,000 square feet. Summer lawn fertilizers that contain at least a
portion of the nitrogen as slow-release are fine to use as well. Be sure
to follow label directions. If cost is prohibitive, you can use the less
expensive quick-release (i.e., soluble) sources, but split the
application into two doses as follows: apply enough to give the lawn 0.5
lb nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in May and again in early June.

***** Reminder –  These are recommendations for cool-season turfgrass species!*****

For more information on tall fescue lawns – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=1460

For more information on Kentucky bluegrass lawns – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Item.aspx?catId=545&pubId=816 

Weekend Warrior Turfgrass Lawn Care

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Finally I think we have turned the corner into Spring.  With that, I see more and more of my neighbors, and myself, working in the yard.  I get excited when the turf starts to turn green.  But before I get too carried away I want to get out on the right foot and planning is everything.  To help help you plan out your lawncare program below are monthly calendars for tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, buffalograss, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass.

Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass Lawns

https://blogs.k-state.edu/turf/a-homeowner-step-by-step-guide-to-bermudagrass-and-zoysiagrass-lawns/

Buffalograss Lawns

https://blogs.k-state.edu/turf/a-homeowner-step-by-step-buffalograss-lawn-guide/

Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass Lawns

https://blogs.k-state.edu/turf/a-homeowner-step-by-step-tall-fescue-and-kentucky-bluegrass-lawn-guide/

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

K-State Radio Network “Plantorama” – Home Lawn Winterkill

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

HOME LAWN WINTERKILL– It was a fairly harsh winter in this region.  And that has homeowners wondering if their lawn grasses were adversely affected by the extended cold and wet conditions. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says while the likelihood of outright turfgrass winterkill is relatively low, some limited damage may have occurred.

Click the link below for K-State Research and Extension Agriculture Today Radio Program “Plantorama” hosted by Eric Atkinson.

Check out the KSRE bookstore more more information on all things turf! – https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/Category.aspx?id=528&catId=545

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