As the golf season in the northeastern quadrant of the US winds down, it is a reasonable time to review the 2014 season, evaluate your approach to disease control, and begin planning for 2015. In the Midwest, the season was extraordinary in that dollar spot pressure was unrelenting. In so many cases, the “wait-until-you-see-it” approach resulted in damage that has yet to recover (Figure 1). It is possible that expected “coverage” resulted in a false sense of security, because normally-effective compounds can be over-whelmed by infectious disease if pathogen populations are not continuously held in check.
I think an effective fungicide application “program” offers the best chance for healthy turf, and is almost always the most efficient—(an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure). However, because of changing management practices, newly introduced active ingredients and formulations, restrictions on traditional compounds, and the threat of fungicide resistance, building your program can be a very time consuming task—so much so, that it is nearly impossible to consider all possible options for greens, fairways, and tees. “Canned programs” are out there, but since golf courses differ in so many ways (grass type, management, budget, location, disease history, etc.), there really is no single program that is best for all courses (one size does NOT fit all). The tendency is to rely on familiar products and hesitate in trying new ones unless they are accompanied by trusted unbiased recommendations or experience.
Disease control with chemicals is complicated. There are nearly 150 fungicide products representing more than 35 active ingredients—each of which is defined by spectrum of activity, mode of action, mobility in the plant, resistance concerns and regulatory issues. New products and label changes occur every year. Lots of anecdotal information is available, but in reality, very few people really understand how and why fungicides work.
A tailored approach –
The Turfmetrics program-building application (www.turfmetrics.com) helps superintendents create an effective, comprehensive program for their course—in a fraction of the time they normally spend. It provides the ability to consider virtually all-possible fungicide options and combinations, and includes changes in efficacy with adjustments to application rates. The Turfmetrics domain is unbiased (they do not sell fungicides) and based on the latest research and years of practical experience.
- A “Course Profile” component helps tailor a solution for each golf course.
- A “Fungicide Selection Tool” is used to schedule sprays throughout the season. Seasonal disease activity charts display disease threats based on environmental conditions as you select products and application rates. Each programmed spray is positioned on a calendar for easy, common sense access.
- A “Report Center” allows superintendents to display the program in a variety of formats, and even includes an “analytics” feature to compare “treatment efficacy” with “disease threats” for any site on the course. It is an excellent resource for communicating disease control issues with course owners and/or administrators.
- An “In-Season Dashboard” allows superintendents to view 5-day threat forecasts for dollar spot, brown patch and Pythium blight that are specific to each course location. This provides supporting information should a user need to adjust their program on-the-fly as weather extremes approach.
The Turfmetrics application (fungicide programming, reporting, and in-season threat forecasts) can benefit all golf courses. There is even a limited free trial and is definitely worth your consideration.