2016 vs. Normal
Looking back on this season in comparison to others really puts it into perspective. Overall, 2016 was very warm - from a warm winter that didn’t test cold tolerance traits of warm season turfgrass, to a warm summer/early fall which gave cool season turfgrasses all they could handle. Feel like you’re managing grass longer these last two years? It’s not your imagination. Using the Columbia airport as a barometer, the growing season (from last spring frost to first fall frost, 32 F to 32 F) reached 217 days from April 9 – Nov 13... the average is 195. Last year was actually the longest season on record with a span of 229 days from April 4 – Nov 20, 2015. Last year also holds the record for latest fall frost, whereas 2016’s Nov 13 only made it into a 3-way tie for second all-time. Adding fire to our lack of frost, the fall of 2016 was the warmest in the last 85 years!
Rainfall for the year was down about an inch in 2016, with a very sluggish start lasting well into June. This had me, the state climatologist, and several extension colleagues warning of impending drought doom akin to 2012. July quelled the notion quickly, and started another problem with extreme rainfall events causing widespread disease epidemics (i.e brown patch, Pythium) throughout the region. More recently, October and November returned dry again leading to an unusual amount of rust. Along with the warmth, this also prompted some to hold off blowing out the irrigation system until an appropriate return of precipitation and cooler temperatures arrived in late November/early December.
Forecasts indicate the chill has arrived to stay in MO and yesterday’s 0.25-0.5 inch of rain/sleet/snow should have primed the soil enough to shut down irrigation for the season. Six to fourteen day forecasts indicate a broad dose of Arctic air falling our way, which should shut the season down for good. Most extended range forecasts don’t indicate any bitter or particularly snowy conditions slated for the region this winter, but we’ll see…
6-10 Day Outlook: Arctic Plunge
Although snow needs to be cleared, most turfgrass managers welcome the respite, and tranquility, it brings. In the 2016 rearview are the stresses of heat, too much water, too little water and shade, disease pressures such as Pythium root rot and "the patches of plenty", insect damage from chinch bugs and cutworms, and weed encroachment of crabgrass, sedges, and the like. While comforting to block those worries, and sleep in heavenly peace this winter, the conference education (and EOP) season is in full swing to help prepare your operation for 2017. I've highlighted several of these events below (most I’ll be presenting at), and hope to see you at one or more of them to talk turf and thoughts of next spring.
1. December 7: Missouri Green Industry Conference - Missouri's key conference occurs at St. Charles Convention Center this Wednesday. An impressive list of speakers includes Dr. Nick Christians from Iowa State speaking about biostimulants and Poa control, Dr. Gregg Munshaw from Kentucky on sports turf and lawn weeds, and John Daniels from the USGA on sustainable strategies for golf. The Missouri pesticide recertification course will also be offered if your three years is up. For more information on this can't miss event, go to http://mogic.org.
2. December 6-8: Kansas Turfgrass Conference - If I wasn't traveling east, I would be heading to Topeka for this great conference presented by our western neighbors. Along with my great colleagues from Kansas State, several great speakers including Dr. Paul Vincelli from Kentucky and Dr. Jim Brosnan from Tennessee will be discussing disease and weed management strategies, respectively. For more information, click here.
3. December 12-13: Common Ground Conference - The show to the West that I don't miss is this one held in Olathe, KS. I get to catch up with my Kansas State friends, and also hear Dr. Bill Kreuser and Dr. Cole Thompson from Nebraska talk moss and PGRs. More information about the conference can be found by clicking here.
4. December 12: MVGCSA Shop Tour - Open only to MVGCSA members, this education event at Bellerive Country Club features a rich lineup including updates on MU research and Dr. Doug Soldat from Wisconsin discussing soil testing and the iron oxide layer in golf greens. Click here for more information.
5. December 14: North Carolina State Turf Research Symposium - Along with the research team at NC State, this great event features a number of great guest speakers, such as Dana Lonn from Toro, Jose Milan from Bayer, Dr. Paul Raymer from Georgia, and Dr. Scott McElroy from Auburn. The event is all day and you can stream it for free. Watch it in your pajamas you’d like… To register, go to https://events.reporter.ncsu.edu/turf/.
6. January 5, 2017: 2017 Midwest Turf/Redexim Winter Seminar - I’ll be traveling down south to the Top of the Rock in Ridgedale, MO to discuss the many disease problems of 2016 and highlight new research regarding large patch and spring dead spot control. Contact David Hunter at email@example.com or Ryan Lock at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat.
7. January 10, 2017: Illinois Turf Conference - From there I’ll be headed up to Chicagoland at the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club in Hoffman Estates to present information on soilborne disease control, fungicide application strategies and diseases on cool season sports turf. A great slate of speakers join me including Dr. Jim Murphy from Rutgers discussing water quality and anthracnose management and Dr. Bruce Branham from Illinois presenting Poa management strategies. For more information, see http://www.illinoisturfgrassfoundation.org.
8. Missouri Commercial Pesticide Applicator Training: If you are in need of pesticide recertification or have an employee who needs to be certified, the winter PAT tour is coming and I’ll see you there. The recertification team (of white walkers) will be visiting Springfield (Jan 4-6), Kansas City (Jan 11-13), Columbia (Jan 17-20), Cape Girardeau (Jan 30-31), and St. Louis (Feb 1-3) for both certification training and recertification education. For more information, go to http://pat.missouri.edu/training.htm.
9. February 7, 2017: GIS Getting to the Root of Managing Soilborne Turfgrass Diseases Last, but certainly not least, Dr. Jim Kerns from North Carolina State and I present a half day seminar on Tuesday afternoon at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando, FL. In this course, we delve deep into the biology of soilborne diseases, and discuss in depth the best methods in dealing with these especially difficult maladies. Way too many villains and dark, necrotic roots for Disney, but hopefully we can present some solutions to help the heroes save the day. For more information, click here.
On many, many counts 2016 has been wild and woolly. I hope you can take advantage of some of the above education gifts to help with the myriad of problems we experienced this year. If not in the next few weeks, I look forward to seeing you in 2017.
Have a great holiday season.
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Extension Turfgrass Pathologist
University of Missouri