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Category: Research

Student Spotlight: Nic Mitchell

By Brooke Garcia

Meet Nic Mitchell! 

Mitchell is currently enrolled at Kansas State University pursing his Master’s degree in Horticulture, with an emphasis in Turfgrass Science and Weed Science. His undergraduate degree is from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Turfgrass and Landscape Management.

So we asked him….why Turfgrass? 

Mitchell highlighted his love for turfgrass began around the time when his parents let him mow the lawn. He grew up on a nine-hole golf course in Aurora, Nebraska, and he became interested in the various mowers and different heights of cut.

Mitchell also shared his passion for playing golf. He had the opportunity to work several summers at his hometown golf course, where his interest in turfgrass continued to grow. Throughout his college studies, he eventually changed majors to pursue Turfgrass Management. This opened the doors to a variety of unique learning opportunities, including an internship in Jackson, Wyoming and a marketing internship with WinField United. These experiences helped Mitchell realize that he wanted to work in the turfgrass industry.

Dr. Jared Hoyle presented Mitchell with the opportunity to attend Kansas State University to work towards his M.S. Mitchell says that he has had a wonderful experience, and he is forever grateful for the opportunity to be apart of the K-State family.

Let’t talk research. 

Mitchell’s research is focused around Herbicide Programs for Seasonal Windmillgrass Control. Here is what Mitchell has to say about his research:

Windmillgrass (Chloris verticillata Nutt.) is a problematic perennial grassy weed commonly found in the mid-west. Currently, there are the only two labeled chemical control options in turfgrass. Tenacity (mesotrione) is labeled for two applications for control while Pylex (topramezone) is labeled for a single application for control. We conducted research to determine if a single application of a common selective perennial grass herbicides would completely control windmillgrass, and to their efficacy when applied at spring, summer, and fall application timings. The next research study that we conducted was to explore the addition of triclopyr to mesotrione, topramezone, and fenoxaprop as well as triclopyr alone. Sequential applications of these herbicides and herbicide combinations were also applied. The last research trial we conducted was to determine the effects of windmillgrass response to glyphosate at different rates with fall applications similar to common recommended perennial weed control options.”

What’s next for Nic Mitchell?

Mitchell will be finishing up his M.S. program this December. His thesis presentation is on December 2nd, 2019 at 12:00pm in Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center. Following his thesis, he will be working for Corteva Agriscience as an Associate Territory Manager with their Turf and Ornamental business. Wish him the best of luck on his future endeavors!

See below for more information on his thesis presentation:

Large Patch Evaluation Study Update

By: Manoj Chhetri

With temperatures cooling down and days being shorter, we are already starting to see warm-season grasses, including zoysiagrass, going to sleep. At the Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center, located in Manhattan, KS, we have shut down the irrigation in warm-season plots.

Our zoysiagrass in the large-patch tolerant breeding plot is not cooperating with us as much as we wanted. We inoculated the field in mid-September with fresh Rhizoctonia pathogen and kept the field pretty wet to encourage fungi to flourish. However, to our dismay, we did not see much of the disease activity, except in a few poor drainage spots. With disease research, it is the type of research where we want disease pathogens to have no mercy on us. We are impatiently waiting for spring, which in fact is a more favorable time of the year for large patch activity.

We are hopeful that we have at least one or two new zoysiagrass progeny that possess greater large patch tolerance. Again, it is hard to make comparison and evaluate when we don’t have disease pressure. So far, we have narrowed down to 10 best progeny out of 60. On the positive note, we have seen more disease pressure on our non-selected progeny than in our top-ten selected progeny. This tells us that we did a good job on choosing those ten-best progeny.

This project is aiming to develop a large patch tolerant zoysiagrass that can significantly reduce cost on fungicides and protect the environment. It is a collaborative project between Texas A & M and K-State University.

Pictured Above: Zoysiagrass progeny evaluated in large patch disease environment.

Pictured Above: One of the zoysiagrass progeny showing large patch in one inoculated half (right side) and fungicide treated cleaner side on other half (left side).

Research in progress: zoysia seedhead suppression

(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)

I was out looking at our zoysiagrass breeding plots the other day and in a couple of plots I saw some seedhead development:

 

This was unusual, as we typically see this in spring, and it’s probably just a unique physiology of these couple of breeding lines. Anyway, this observation prompted me to mention that we are continuing KSU’s work on zoysiagrass seedhead suppression. You may have seen the articles about the prior excellent work by Dr. Hoyle and colleagues which you can view here:

Suppressing Meyer zoysiagrass seedheads

and here (academic peer-reviewed version)

https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/cftm/abstracts/4/1/180012?access=0&view=pdf

We are following up on this work with additional trials to hone in on the biology and management of seedheads, fine-tuning application timings of ethephon. Stay tuned for results in the coming 1-2 years as we collect data. The project team members are PhD student Manoj Chhetri, Jack Fry, Jared Hoyle, me, and Aaron Patton (Purdue). The project is funded by the GCSAA, Heart of America Golf Course Superintendents Association, and Kansas Turfgrass Foundation.

Recent Release: Free Soil Moisture Mapping Protocol

Dr. Chase Straw, Turfgrass Scientist at the University of Minnesota, informed us of the recent release of a free soil moisture mapping protocol that can be utilized by golf course superintendents to assist them with fairway irrigation decisions. The protocol explains how to collect GPS soil moisture data with a commercially available device (FieldScout TDR 350), which are then used to generate fairway soil moisture maps with free software. The maps could be used as a tool to program an irrigation system to irrigate based on the soil moisture variability across a golf course, among possibly many other things.

More information about the protocol, in addition to details regarding how the Minnesota Golf Course Superintendents Association of America chapter is utilizing it as a service to their members, can be read from a recent blog post on the UMN turfgrass website.

The protocol can be downloaded here.

The protocol requires a $0 licensing agreement. FREE!!! Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Chase Straw (cstraw@umn.edu) and his team at the University of Minnesota.

 

Zoysia breeding line evaluation work continues

(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)

KSU continues its work with the turf breeding team at Texas A&M and colleagues at Purdue. We recently inoculated some breeding lines with the large patch pathogen. We grow the fungus on sterilized oats then bury it just under the thatch layer. Sometimes we see symptoms in fall, but often we do not see them until spring. Scientific research takes a lot of patience :). In the meantime, we are keeping the plots moist to foster fungal growth.

In the meantime, large patch is active especially in wet areas:

Take note of these areas. It’s too late to fertilize zoysia now, but when spring comes around a bump of slow-release N may prompt recovery. In the meantime there may be actions you can take to improve drainage.

The rain didn’t stop us….Turfgrass Field Day 2019!

A huge thank you to everyone who attended the 2019 Turfgrass Field Day in Olathe, KS. Our morning was filled with rain, but most attendees waited it out to learn more about the Turfgrass research + insect/disease updates from K-State   specialists. The BBQ lunch was a big incentive for waiting it out too… 🙂

We wanted to share a few pictures from the event. There were 8 different stops at the field day. Here are the highlights:

  • Tree Pruning: Principles and Practices— Tim McDonnell taught about the different types, methods and reasons for tree pruning. Specifically, he demonstrated structural, raising and thinning practices, as well as making proper pruning cuts.

  • Ornamental Potpourri — Cheryl Boyer gave updates for ornamentals in Kansas, including the status of the John C. Pair Horticulture Research Center, popular new cultivars from local growers, an Earth-Kind Ninebark trial, and new Facebook marketing research results. She had a beautiful booth, full of luscious plants from KAT Wholesale Nurseries and Loma Vista Nursery.

  • New Tall Fescue Cultivars — Steve Keeley shared insights on a new tall fescue cultivar trial with over 130 entries that were established at Olathe in 2018. He showed the top performers and gave recommedations for tall fescue cultivars in Midwest lawns and sports turf.

  • Turf & Ornamental Insect Update —Raymond Cloyd shared an update on insect and mite pests of ornamentals and turfgrass, including new insecticides and miticidies, common insect and mite pests of 2019, and lots of “bug” samples.

  • Turf and Ornamental Disease Update—Megan Kennelly talked about diseases and stresses and how to identify and manage them. She also showed some tall fescue/zoysia blend plots and demonstrataed how the two species can complement each other.
  • Managing Shaded Turf —Dale Bremer talked about shade stress and how it affects turf performance, along with options to maintain turf quality in shade.

  • Turfgrass Weed Control Update — Jared Hoyle & Dani McFadden covered many aspects of turfrgass weed control advancements, including information about new herbicides, and how they influence your weed control program.

  • Advancements in Zoysiagrasss — Jack Fry showed of his “Innovation’ and ‘Chisholm’ turf plots – the new zoysias K-State has released. There are over 1,000 genetically different zoysias that are being evaluated at the Olathe Center.

 

New Turfgrass Research Reports

Research Reports

Bermudagrass Control Options for Reseeding

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Last week Ward Upham wrote an article on bermudagrass control in the KSU Horticulture Newsletter.  In the article below he explains the difficulty of controlling bermudgrass, the process and the multiple applications of a non-selective herbicide.

Bermudagrass Control by Ward Upham

Bermudagrass can make a nice lawn if you don’t mind its
invasiveness and short growing season. But many people dislike both
these characteristics. Warm-season grasses, such as bermudagrass,
zoysiagrass and buffalograss, green up later than cool-season grasses
such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. They also go dormant earlier
in the fall, which can make a lawn unattractive. Bermuda that invades a cool-season lawn will be brown during much of the spring and fall while the tall fescue portion of the lawn is green. Bermuda is much more drought and heat resistant than cool-season grasses, so it will take over a cool-season lawn during the summer months if it is in full sun.

So, how do you control bermudagrass that has invaded a cool-season
lawn? Research conducted in 1996 showed that glyphosate is the best herbicide for the job. Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide and will kill everything—
including tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass. Therefore, you will need to
reseed treated areas. In our study, we applied a 2% solution of
glyphosate on July 15 and again on August 15 on a bermudagrass plot that
was more than 15 years old. More than one year later, we saw no
regrowth. Glyphosate works best if bermuda is growing well. The better
the bermudagrass is growing, the more chemical is taken up and pushed
into the roots. Water and fertilize if needed to get it going.
Spray about the middle of July (or when the bermuda is growing
well). Use glyphosate (2% solution). Wait two weeks and scalp the lawn
(mow as low as possible and remove clippings.) This will prevent dead
grass from covering any bermuda that starts to recover. Wait another two
weeks and spray again with glyphosate if there is any green. Wait two
more weeks and reseed. (Ward Upham)

(For the KSU Horticulture Newsletter click here – https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/newsletters/index.html)

But during this time areas are dead, may not be acceptable and re-seeding must be done in the fall.  What if you are wanting to seed in the spring (Especially if you ware wanting to convert to buffalograss)? This process might not work due to the timeline. Therefore, a couple years ago we looked into some other options and combinations for bermudagrass control. Here is a brief overview of the project.

Multiple summer applications of glyphosate are commonly recommended for bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.) control. However, this regime results in an extended period of displeasing and nonfunctional turfgrass, and is not ideal for spring establishment. An autumn glyphosate application prior to winter dormancy can control bermudagrass and may benefit spring  establishment projects. However, research is needed to more precisely define the parameters of efficacious late-season herbicide applications for bermudagrass control as it transitions into dormancy. Therefore, our objective was to examine late-season bermudagrass removal using combinations of glyphosate, fluazifop, and mesotrione. Experiments were initiated in October 2013 at the Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center in Manhattan, KS, on mature ‘Midlawn’ hybrid bermudagrass, and at Stagg Hill Golf Course in Manhattan, KS, on mature common bermudagrass. Seven herbicide treatments containing combinations of glyphosate, fluazifop, and mesotrione were evaluated. Green bermudagrass cover (0–100%) was visually estimated when treatments were applied and every 14 d after application. Only treatments containing glyphosate reduced the green cover of bermudagrass at each site the following year. Across all ratings dates and locations, adding mesotrione, fluazifop, or both to glyphosate did not further reduce green bermudagrass cover. Overall, results indicate that a single autumn application of glyphosate prior to bermudagrass dormancy reduces bermudagrass cover the following spring. The significant reduction at spring green-up may allow turf managers to make additional applications in the spring for increased control before spring establishment.

For the full article;

Hoyle, J.A.,C. Braun, C.S. Thompson and J.A. Reeves. 2018. Late-Season Bermudagrass Control with Glyphosate, Fluazifop, and Mesotrione Combinations. Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environ. 1:180014 (2018) doi:10.2134/age2018.06.0014

https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/age/pdfs/1/1/180014

***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.***

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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/

Why is that Redbud tree blooming along the trunk?

Cauliflory on Redbuds

by: Judy O’Mara

It was a beautiful year for flowering redbud trees this spring. The pink flowers seemed to go on and on. As in past years, the question arises as to why redbud trees flower on the trunk or on large branches. The question just popped into my email inbox this morning: Is it a disease? Like everyone else, I’ve always meant to look up this interesting phenomena.

 

According to Michael Dirr (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants) and the Virginia Native Plant Society (https://vnps.org/wildflowers-of-the-year/2013-woty-redbud/), it turns out that flowering on the trunk or limbs aka ‘cauliflory’ is a normal growth characteristic for redbud trees. Flowers are produced in pink nodal clusters that can develop on any part of the tree, from twigs to branches, as well as the main trunk (particularly on old trees).

So now we know.