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Update (9/1/2011)

Turf Recovery + Football: It's About Time!

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Chutes and Ladders

Although we endured one of the hottest days early in August, we turned out to be right about average (+ 1.3F) for our overall temperatures for the month. Temperatures are also ending with a bang, with hopefully a last salty sting from summer over the next few days. The long-term forecast looks fantastic, though, and we seem to be entitled to the sweet first taste of fall (and free fungicide!) next week.

There is not much rain in the forecast for much of the state over the next week. For the middle section of the state, and those near KC this won't matter too much as these areas had well above normal precipitation over the last 30 days. The rain could help outer margins of the state where much less rain has fallen, and some moderate drought situations exist.

Quick Hits:

Summer Patch on Creeping Bentgrass

Summer Patch: As one last slap in the face, I had a sample of summer patch on creeping bentgrass greens come in from the St. Louis area this past week. I had seen some summer patch infection on bentgrass greens in upper Arkansas and SW Missouri in middle July. Early symptoms are patches of chlorotic yellow leaves that turn reddish orange and collapse. The pathogen can start infecting roots when soil temperatures get above 65F, so areas that have a history of the disease should think about late spring preventive applications. Heritage, Headway, Honor, Disarm, or the DMIs work well against this disease, but must be watered-in and work best preventively. Interestingly, I have not had a lot of reports of summer patch on Kentucky bluegrass this year, which should be much more susceptible to this disease.

Dollar Spot: With the switch in temperatures, dollar spot has been on the rise at the turf farm, as mentioned in the last newsletter.

Fall Turf Maintenance: If you’re warm stay cool, if you’re cool get hot

Warm Season Turf

Stop the presses!!!  If you have zoysia or bermudagrass turf, fertilization should cease.  Nitrogen fertilization of zoysia during these cooler periods will greatly promote large patch of zoysia not only this fall but again next spring.  Spring dead spot of bermudagrass is also more intense in areas (particularly football fields) that are aggressively aerified late in the season.  The only exception to doing something to warm season turf now is if you have a soil test that is low in potassium levels.  If this is the case, potash applied next month can greatly increase the winter hardiness of warm season turf.  So if you’re warm stay cool …

Cool Season Turf

As opposed to warm season turf, (which you want to go softly into that winter goodnight) it is about time to rough up the fescues and bluegrasses in your life.  For putting greens that have been beaten down over the summer, a bit of nurturing may be in order over the next few weeks. Even tender bentgrass should have an aerifier in its future by mid to late September.  For fescue and bluegrass lawns, I anticipate next weekend being the time for renovation or establishment.  Aerify or aggressively cultivate bad areas first with power equipment, and then reseed.  For a full article on establishment or renovation tips, click here to read Dr.  Brad Fresenburg’s extension publication.       

When the mild temperatures of next week hit, it may be a good idea on embattled, drought stricken tall fescue lawns to turn on a little water.  This will hopefully perk some of these plants out of their drought dormant, and let it be known exactly how much recovery or reseeding will be necessary.  Water early in the morning to minimize the period of leaf wetness, although with lows in the 50’s or upper 60’s brown patch and other warm temperature diseases should not be as much of a concern. 

While your watering, you might as well be watering in some fertilizer.  Next week is also a good time to get your ducks in a row for fall fertilization and recovery practices.  If the extended forecast continues to look promising, fertilizer can be applied at decent rates (0.5 – 1.0 lbs N/1000 sq ft) to cool season turf to get a jump on fall recovery.  Plan on at least one more fall fertilization in early to mid October.  So if you’re cool, get hot… 

Have a good weekend, and GO TIGERS!

Lee Miller
Extension Turfgrass Pathologist
University of Missouri