Kansas State University


K-State Turfgrass

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Ice, Ice Baby.

By Dr. Jack Fry

Ice can cause many problems for turf, in various forms.

Ice Inside the Plant

Ice routinely forms inside plants when temperatures drop below freezing. Where the ice forms is important – when it’s outside the plant cells, it’s usually not an issue. This is called extracellular freezing.  However, no plant cell will survive when ice forms inside it.

The most important part of the turfgrass plant regarding survival is the crown, or growing point. Again, ice forming outside cells inside the crown is common and usually not harmful. It can become an issue, primarily in warm-season grasses, like bermudagrass, when temperatures are very cold for extended periods of time. This forces water inside cells to exit toward the ice (a matter of physics), and too much water leaving the cells will cause dehydration, which can cause the crown to die.

Freezing injury on bermuda is caused by ice forming outside cells within the crown of the plant that causes dehydration.

Ice formation inside cells of the crown commonly causes the death of grasses in the northern U.S, and it’s called intracellular freezing or crown hydration injury.  Usually, grasses that succumb to this type of injury become well hydrated in early spring, often growing in low areas that don’t drain well. Hydrated crowns that are then subjected to extremely low temperatures often suffer from ice formation inside cells of the crown;  when this occurs, they don’t survive. This is common in the northern U.S. on annual bluegrass on golf greens. It could also occur here, but would be most likely on warm-season grasses lying in low areas.

Ice Covering the Plant

Fortunately, in the central U.S., we don’t deal with extended periods of ice cover on turf. Ice cover can result from sleet, freezing rain, or snow melting and refreezing. Turf managers in the northern U.S. begin to worry about ice cover when it remains in place for about 60 days. That’s usually the limit for annual bluegrass – being under ice cover more than that can cause issues with lack of oxygen and/or accumulation of toxic gases under the ice

Ice on the Leaf Surface – Frost!

In a humid environment, when the leaf surfaces cool to temperatures below freezing, ice will form as frost on the leaves. Leaves of cool-season grasses tolerate frost on leaves just fine. Leaves of warm-season grasses don’t like frost, and we often see them go dormant shortly after the first hard frost in the fall.

Frost on the leaf surface can damage when foot or vehicle traffic causes the crystals to puncture the leaf cells (photo courtesy of Dr. Hoyle).

Frost is primarily a problem for turf managers in spring and fall on cool-season grasses. Foot or vehicle traffic pushes the ice crystals through the leaf surface and punctures cells, causing them to collapse. The result is that there is often brown turf where traffic was present. Honestly, I don’t think we know enough about the physics of ice that comprises frost, and I suspect that frost differs a lot – some ice forming on leaves may be more damaging than other ice.

Following are a few articles related to frost on turf.

For golfers:


For superintendents managing golf courses:


Apparently, in Japan, golfers play year-round regardless of temperature.  Some courses ignore frost to sustain income and have had less damage than expected:



Green June beetle larvae crawling around

KSU Entomology has been getting reports of Green June beetle larvae being noticed crawling around right now.

You can read more about it here:


June beetles are described in more detail in this publication:


As stated in that publication, “Although Phyllophaga grubs can be recovered from most turf venues, populations rarely are sufficient to cause visible damage.”

KGSCA Legacy Scholarship

The KGCSA Legacy Scholarship offers educational aid to the children and grandchildren of KGCSA members.  A $1,000 scholarship will be awarded. Applications are due August 27, 2019.

1. One or more of the applicant’s parents or grandparents must have been a KGCSA member for five or more consecutive years and must be a currently active.

2. The student must be enrolled full-time at an accredited institution of higher learning, or in the case of high school seniors, must be accepted at such an institution for the next academic year. Graduating high school seniors must attach a letter of acceptance to their application.

3. Past winners are ineligible to apply the following year. They may reapply after a one-year hiatus.

Criteria for Selection
1. Applicants will be evaluated based on academic achievement, extracurricular and community involvement, leadership and outside employment.

2. The student must submit an original essay of up to 500 words.

You can download the application at  www.kgcsa.org

HAGCSA Turfgrass Student Scholarships


The Heart of America GCSA Scholarship Program offers educational aid to deserving students in the turfgrass program at an accredited college or university in Kansas or Missouri.

A total up to $5,000 is allocated each year to deserving students. Applicants will compete based on their overall qualifications determined by the Scholarship and Research Committee.

2019 academic term

(Must carry a 2.75GPA or higher for consideration.)

Scholarship Application – 2019

October 31, 2019

Submit to:

Heart of America GCSA

Scholarship & Research Committee

638 W. 39th Street, Kansas City, MO 64111


Kim Weitzel; kweitzel@westerneda.com


New Turfgrass Research Reports

Research Reports

Southern Blight

By: Judy O’Mara

A little unusual… this past week a fungal disease called southern blight took out a landscape planting of Lamium or dead nettle in south central Kansas. In my years at K-State, I’ve seen southern blight occur on hosta plantings a few times and  have also picked it up on Echinacea, Hibiscus, Liatris, Pasque Flower, Penstemon, Rudbeckia, Solidago, as well as, tomato. Southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii; Athelia rolfsii) is a serious disease, particularly in the south (hence the name). It has a history of being damaging to over 500 plant species including field crops, vegetables, flowers, weeds, and even some woody landscape plants.

Plants infected by the southern blight fungus may wilt quickly and collapse, or they may turn yellow and slowly decline. There are frequently dark stem lesions at the base of the plant, a crown rot and/or a root rot. The most distinctive symptoms of southern blight are the presence of sclerotia and a white matt of fungal mycelium. Sclerotia are small seed-shaped fungal structures that allow the disease to survive in plant debris and soil for several years. They range in color from light tan to reddish-brown becoming somewhat inconspicuous as they age. A fan of white mycelium may grow along the basal stem lesion or in the soil.

While southern blight is a serious disease, it is not that common in Kansas. When it does occur here, it tends to show up during July and August under hot, wet conditions. The limiting factor for Kansas may be that when we have high temps, it also tends to be dry. Southern blight outbreaks in Kansas have been observed in irrigated landscapes (ie hot + wet). Crowded plantings can create a humid environment that can favor the disease.

Once southern blight shows up in the landscape, it can be a challenge to manage. Infected plants (plus the root ball) should be dug up, bagged and sent to the landfill. Do not compost plants from infested locations, as this can spread the disease across the planting area when the compost material is re-incorporated into the landscape. Rotate out of the infested area for 3-4 years, but make sure to control weeds because they can also serve as a host for the disease.

The bulk of the sclerotia will survive in the upper soil, so deep plowing or inverting the soil can help to reduce the amount of disease in the infested area. Another strategy for reducing southern blight severity, is to employ solarization of the target area. This can be done by covering the area with clear plastic for 4-6 weeks. It will be important to clean and disinfect tools, gloves and shoes after working in areas with southern blight. This will help to limit movement of the disease into new areas of the garden or landscape.

An article in the University of Illinois Home Yard and Garden Pest Newsletter indicated that they are also seeing southern blight activity this summer, particularly on Hosta. Another name for the disease is Hosta Petiole Blight. The article has some great photos of the disease on Hosta, which can be seen at http://hyg.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=1087.

Powdery Mildew on Ornamentals

By: Judy O’Mara

Powdery mildew is a common disease on many ornamentals. It is easy to identify because it produces a whitish-gray mold on the surface of the leaf. This fungal disease is favored by high humidity and crowded plantings (i.e. poor air flow). Powdery mildew doesn’t kill the plant but susceptible hosts that have a chronic problem with it can be weakened.  The best management strategy is through the use of resistant varieties.

The Home, Yard & Garden newsletter from the University of Illinois has a nice article on powdery mildew this week: http://hyg.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=1092

***Picture provided through University of Illinois Home, Yard, & Garden newsletter.

Roses in the Garden: Rosette Virus, Mosaic Virus, and Recommendations

Rose Rosette Virus…What does it look like?

By: Judy O’Mara

We’ve had several reports of rose rosette virus in the K-State Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab this spring. It is not hard to identify based on symptoms. Basically, the growth on the plant becomes increasingly deformed. It starts with an individual rose cane that either elongates, or gets bunchy with lots of shoots (witches broom). The foliage can be reddish-purple or green and strappy (see below). Very characteristic for rose rosette virus is the production of excessive thorns along the canes of the deformed shoots. Symptoms on the plant get worse over a few weeks. In an odd way, it can sometimes look like a bridal bouquet.

Left unchecked rose rosette virus will kill the infected plant and continue to spread to nearby roses via its insect vector (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus), an eriophyid mite. This tiny mite is not visible to the eye, resides in new growth and crevices, and is spread by the wind.

Pruning out deformed portions of the plant is not an effective control strategy as the disease can overwinter in the roots. Upon seeing symptoms, infected plants should be dug up (including the root ball) bagged, and removed from the site.

For more information on this disease see the K-State fact sheet on rose rosette virus.

Rose Mosaic Virus…How do you spot it?

By: Chandler Day

Have you seen yellow oak leaf or netted patterns on your rose bush leaves? If so, you most likely have a disease called Rose Mosaic Virus. This rose disease is relatively common in Kansas landscapes and symptoms can vary from wavy yellow lines or ring spots to mottled oak leaf and mosaic patterns. Rose Mosaic Virus spreads through vegetative propagation and does NOT move around via insects or mites. Another rose disease, rose rosette virus, will kill the infected rose plants, while rose mosaic virus disease will not. Plants infected with rose mosaic virus will produce symptoms on the rose plant every year for the remainder of its life.

The best ways to prevent viral diseases on your rose bushes are to start by buying non-symptomatic plants that have leafed out, or certified disease-free roses. Symptomatic plants in the landscape should be dug up (with the root ball), bagged and discarded.

Photos by Megan Kennelly/KSU

Rose Garden Observations and Recommendations (Coming Soon)

By: Brooke Garcia

Following an extremely wet spring, I’ve noticed several roses to be impacted by Black Leaf Spot. With continuous rainfall and high humidity, this fungal disease thrives. As this fungal disease develops, you can begin to notice black spots on the leaves. The leaves often times will turn yellow, eventually dropping from the plant. An easy way to spot this on plants (despite seeing the dark black spots and yellowing leaves) is to look at the bottom of the plant. The bottom portion of the rose shrub will most likely look bare, without leaves.

Despite having all of our recent rains, I’ve noticed some roses appear to be performing well given the circumstances. My recommendations are purely coming from an observational standpoint. On the other hand, many of these roses in particular were surrounded by other rose plantings that were impacted by both Black Leaf Spot and Rose Rosette Virus.

Here are the following rose recommendations:

  • ‘Honey Perfume’
  • ‘Princess Charlene De Monaco’ Hybrid Tea Rose
  • ‘Coral Drift’
  • ‘Lemon Drift’
  • ‘Top Gun’



Extreme Heat Precautions and Safety Tips

By: Michael Bear

Heat is one the leading causes of weather-related deaths and injuries in the United States. Excessive heat causes hundreds of deaths every year. Heat can affect people in a variety of settings and while dangerous heat is associated with the summer season, it can occur in the spring and fall as well.

The risk

When exposed to high temperatures your body sweats, which evaporates to cool your body. Hot and humid weather challenges your body’s ability to cool itself because your body sweats a great deal to try to maintain your body temperature. Over time this increased sweating leads to dehydration and your body temperature becomes elevated. Increased levels of humidity make this worse as the high water content of the air hampers the evaporation of sweat on your skin. This can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Those most at risk for heat illness include infants, children, the elderly, overweight people and those who are ill or have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a mild form of heat illness that may develop after days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid intake. If not treated, heat exhaustion may become heat stroke. A person suffering from heat exhaustion may have cool moist skin. Their pulse rate will be fast and weak and their breathing will be fast and shallow. Additional warning signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

Heat exhaustion first aid

  • Drink cool beverages without alcohol or caffeine.
  • Move to an air-conditioned environment.
  • Take a cool shower, bath or apply cold compresses.
  • Rest

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related illnesses. It occurs when the body is unable to cool itself because the ability to sweat fails. A victim’s body temperature will rapidly rise within a few minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent injury if it is not treated quickly. Warning signs of heat stroke vary but can include:

  • An extremely high body temperature — above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Red, hot and dry skin without sweating.
  • Rapid, strong pulse.
  • Throbbing headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Confusion.
  • Unconsciousness

Heat stroke first aid

  • Call 911 immediately. Untreated heat stroke may result in death or disability.
  • Move the victim to a shady and/or air-conditioned area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly using whatever means available such as a cool shower or bath, garden hose, or sponging with cool water.


Like many hazards, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of heat illnesses:

  • Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Limit strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Wear light colored, light weight clothing.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Take breaks in the shade as often as possible.
  • If working in the heat, increase workloads gradually. Allow new employees and workers who have been off for more than a week more frequent breaks.
  • Change your schedule so outdoor work is performed early or very late in the day.
  • NEVER leave kids or pets in vehicles.
  • Check on the elderly, sick and those without air conditioning.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of heat illness and take action if you see someone at risk.