July and August have brought much warmer temperatures and “higher” humidity to West Texas than we are accustomed to in this region. This combination of environmental conditions have made some disease symptoms start to become evident. On July 17, 2014, I was visiting one of our local golf courses working on some research and noticed symptoms that appeared very similar to anthracnose on these bentgrass greens (Fig. 1.). These areas were thin and had the orange-red appearance commonly associated foliar blight anthracnose common on bentgrass during summer heat stress periods. The superintendent brought over a macroscope, and we checked out the symptoms a little closer looking for visible signs of anthracnose, specifically setae (the black, sterile hairs that look like little spikes through the scope). There were a few characteristics I saw through the macroscope that appeared to be anthracnose to me, but the superintendent was not overly concerned because we did not see any acervuli with setae present. To my knowledge, no fungicides were applied for this problem and environmental conditions did not remain favorable for the disease, and the symptoms subsided and were gone a couple of weeks later.
We have had reports of other disease symptoms at our local golf courses. Around mid- to late-July was when a majority of these reports started coming to my attention. One of our golf courses that is a bit younger (approximately 12 years old) generally has trouble with Take-All Patch. The superintendent started seeing some initial chlorosis and wasted no time spraying with a pre-mixed fungicide with contact and acropetal penetrant. Other golf courses have suggested that symptoms of brown patch and summer patch being present; however, none of these have been confirmed through diagnosticians to my knowledge. We also got our first glimpse of etiolation on bentgrass on July 10, 2014. I am not sure what is causing the etiolation symptoms at this time, but these symptoms were short-lived. I have not been able to find the etiolation symptoms as clearly expressed as they were that first time. We have looked through samples a few times for bacterial streaming, but have not been able to see anything. This is definitely something we will be looking into further if the symptoms become evident again in the future.
Not only are we seeing a slight increase in disease pressure, but turf insect problems are really becoming prominent at this time. I seeded bermudagrass into my home lawn in the spring and started noticing some small necrotic patches that appeared to be drought stressed (Figs. 2 and 3). I am definitely not one to over-water the lawn, so I often allow the grass to show some signs of stress before I give it water. These necrotic areas were not recovering from the drought symptoms as well as I thought they should. With closer inspection of these areas, I did not have very sufficient rooting and the plants were capable of being removed from the ground with ease. As I was inspecting the area more thoroughly (I’m sure neighbors wondering what in the heck I was doing!), I started noticing small insects running in all directions as I parted the turf to look at the soil surface. I have only seen chinch bugs one time, to my knowledge, and that was in Quebec, Canada at an APS Turf Tour. The main thing I remember from seeing them was that they were tiny and ran in all directions when you moved the turf canopy to take a peak. As I continued watching the areas and inspecting them over time, I saw some more mature insects that helped me identify the chinch bug in these areas. I tried to snap a close-up picture of the insects a couple of weeks ago, but my skills are pretty limited to capture an image of a tiny insect moving around. I sprayed bifenthrin last weekend over the entire yard to eliminate this problem and some other insects from the yard.
Lastly, I would like to note that black cutworm symptoms are on the rise in our area. We have been noticing a steady increase in symptoms appearing over the last couple of weeks. These symptoms often appear similar to ball mark scars with a hole in the center (Fig 4). You can also look for an increase in bird activity as they may become more prevalent trying to feed on the caterpillars. Be sure to stay on top of your scouting efforts. Black cutworms and other caterpillar pests are generally most damaging this time of year, so be ready to take care of these issues when they arise.