LAWN CARE: What turf species do you think is most suitable for lawn use in Missouri?

Tall Fescue

Update (6/18/2013)

And Here, We, Go...

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Mild start to June temperatures

The summer solstice, or first day of astronomical summer, will occur Friday, which will have the longest photoperiod of the year.  This is particularly true for areas north of the Arctic Circle, which will have 24 straight hours of sunlight!  If you need a reason to party, some pagan religions use the summer solstice as one, with a tradition of dancing around a bonfire.  Bonfires make more sense in the cold of winter to me, but to each his own.  Another reason to celebrate is that our photoperiods gradually get shorter through the rest of the year, which may not be much consolation since (despite our early reprieve) the dog days of summer are still ahead of us.    

Last Saturday’s rain dumped quite a bit of rain in many areas of Missouri, with most areas receiving 1-2” with some locally heavy 3” downpours in southwest Missouri.  As alluded to above, hot summer temperatures are forecasted to join the summer solstice.    Dry and seasonal weather is forecasted through Friday, and then above normal temperatures into early next week.  This means lower to middle 90s for highs in much of Missouri, and if the forecast holds the real start of an extended stress period on cool season turfgrasses.  Luckily, little or no chance of rain is forecasted, so constantly saturated soils continued by last weekend’s rain may begin to dry out.   

Soil temps have jumped to near normal levels in the past week.

Quick Hits

Like the Joker line, summer turf diseases are getting ready to go.
  • With the wet conditions and slight uptick in temperatures, several samples came into the lab this past week.  In addition, we’ve seen several diseases pop up at the farm in the last few days. Hence, the “and, here, we, go…” reference to the line delivered by Heath Ledger as the Joker in the movie Dark Knight.  A truly creepy role, and hopefully the foreboding nature is too heavy for the summer ahead.  If you recall the movie, neither ferry explodes; and hopefully summer diseases don’t either.  
Brown patch becoming more prominent in Missouri
  • Brown Patch begins – Brown patch is beginning to show up on untreated areas of our creeping bentgrass greens, meaning it should also be particularly active in tall fescue lawns.  This goes along with a report of brown patch in tall fescue roughs from a golf course in Kansas City.  Most putting greens are treated preventively so it’s rare to see this affecting golf course greens in the region, but it’s a sure sign that scouting efforts should be underway to look for initial lesions in tall fescue.  As a reminder from a nagging turf pathologist, brown patch is the premier disease issue on tall fescue lawns, and can be reduced or eliminated by restricting all nitrogen applications during the summer.
Pythium root rot on creeping bentgrass
  • Pythium Root Rot returns – With the constantly oversaturated soil conditions, it was only a matter of time before some bentgrass greens came into the lab with Pythium root rot issues. Two samples came in the last week exhibiting symptoms from Kansas City and the Springfield area.  One of the affected areas submitted to the clinic was completely submerged in a creek flood on 5/31, and the other was on a poorly draining native soil green.   As I noted last week, this disease is still a bit of an enigma, and all we really know is that it likes a pool to swim in.  Curative control of this disease includes applications of either Koban or Terrazole (ethazole/etridiazole) for a quick knock down, followed by an application of Subdue, Banol, or Segway 3-5 days later.  Preventive applications are Subdue, Banol or Segway.  Remember to water all of these in with at least 1/8” of irrigation. 

    As many of you know, we currently have a research project attempting to elucidate the types of Pythium root diseases we encounter in this region, the species responsible, and effective control measures.  If you have suspected symptoms on bentgrass greens or collars, please contact either me or John Workman ( if you’d like to submit a sample and participate in the research. 
Leaf spot diseases affecting cool season turfgrasses in Missouri
  • The Dark (Spored) Knight – Damage from leaf spot diseases has been observed this week at our turf research farm on creeping bentgrass and also at a sports field on perennial ryegrass in Columbia.  These diseases are most severe in very wet environments (no surprise there) and over-fertilized turf.  Leaf spots can occur on all turfgrass types, but in this area are most damaging on Kentucky bluegrass, as well as perennial ryegrass and creeping bentgrass.  A variety of different pathogen species can cause these diseases depending on the host.  Most preventive programs will cover this disease, with the strobilurins (Heritage, Insignia, etc) and the dicarboximides (26GT and Curalan) providing the most effective control.  .       

One Plot Down/One to Go

One of the two new plots have been planted at the MU turf farm.


Field Day, July 30th – Save the Date.

Attendee registration is now open for the MU Turf & Ornamental Field Day on July 30th.  The full agenda has been set, and it should be a great day.  The third afternoon event I’d like to briefly touch on is the tour of the Mizzou Botanical Gardens led by Pete Millier, Director.  This informative visit will demonstrate the modern landscape plantings established throughout the gardens, and expound upon the history, traditions, and transformation of campus.  Whether you are landscape horticulturist or simply a Mizzou fanatic, the tour should be a great event. 

Vendors/exhibitors - we had a full boat last year, and many commented that it was the best bang for their field day buck during the whole season.  We will have a dedicated demonstration time before lunch (contact me for details on setup), when you can show your wares in a turf setting.  We also have several sponsorships available to support the event.

Links are below to access registration for both attendees and vendors, and the complete field day agenda. Hope to see you there. 

For the full agenda, click here.
For attendee registration, click here.
For exhibitor/vendor registration, click here.

Have a great week.

Lee Miller
Follow on Twitter!  @muturfpath
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Extension Turfgrass Pathologist
University of Missouri 

Field day talks include wetting agents, tree care, lawn care, and disease updates.