Friday, March 29, 2013


Nick Christians
March 29, 2013

Now that the snow is mostly gone, we are seeing some common early spring problems in lawns.  Here are a couple of things that I observed in my own lawn yesterday.

The first is Gray Snow Mold, caused by fungal organism (Typhula incarnata).  This is a common problems that develops in lawns at this time of year.

 Here is how I know what it is.  The brown fruiting bodies on the tissue are "sclerotia", which are commonly associated with this disease on turf.

 The second problem is a feeding trail of voles that were active under the snow.

 Here is the culprit (Picture from Timothy Christians)

There will likely be several turf problems showing up in the next few weeks.   I would appreciate any picture that you have for the blog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Nick Christians
March 28, 2013

 Here is a common question at this time of year.  It comes from the answer line at ISU.

The question is, "I have a patch of grass in my lawn that turned brown early last fall and is not greening up this spring.  What is it?"

It is Zoysiagrass, a warm-season species that is becoming an increasing problem in Iowa lawns.  It is very hard to kill.  Roundup will set it back, but it always seems to survive, even after multiple applications.  I have seen people treat it with Roundup, then remove the sod and sod Kentucky bluegrass over the spot.  It still comes back.

Good luck if you have this one in your lawn and want to get rid of it.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Nick Christians
March 25, 2013

Here is an interesting picture from golf course superintendent Ken Siems from the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club near Moscow, Russia.  Notice that the picture is from March 21, 2013.  I thought some of you that feel like we have had a tough winter would enjoy seeing what a really heavy, late snow looks like.  Ken moved to Moscow last year from Beijing, China where his old golf course had been under 6 ft of flood water.

There is a green under the snow in the foreground and the fairway is in the background.  Ken was wondering about snow removal. 

I have had a lot of experience with snow and/or ice removal from golf courses over the years.  We have done studies on it here at ISU and have had a chance to observe the effects of snow removal on many golf courses here in the region.  My observations have been that we generally find that we do more harm than good when it comes to removal and that it is generally best to just leave snow and ice in place and have it melt naturally. 

This is an unusually heavy snow fall, however and it would be unlikely to melt off until well into April.  Ken is going to leave some areas and remove part of the snow from others.  He will keep us posted on the recovery this spring.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Nick Christians
March 20, 2013

It's time to get the blog going again for the spring.  If anyone out there would like to submit something, let me know.

The following blog post is from Tim Christians, Superintendent of Makray Memorial Golf Club,in Barrington, Il.

From Tim Christians:

Diagnosing Tree Defects

Today while removing trees that had been affected by Imprelis Herbicide, I came upon an Ash tree that showed significant internal defects. I was able to determine this by the presence of fruiting bodies on the tree.
This image shows fungus on the crotch of the tree. Fungus present on any tree is usually a sign of internal decay
There are many reasons for a tree to begin to decay. In the situation of the tree found today it was due to poor trimming techniques that left the tree prone to attack by insects and other pathogens.
This image shows a trimming cut that has failed to properly heal. Inspection of the tree showed numerous trimming cuts of this nature

The fruiting bodies present on the tree are only a sign of what truly is happening inside the tree however. Inspection of the wood of the tree showed soft rot affecting much of the structure of the canopy. The removal of areas affected by soft rot however will not save this tree. The wounds to remove these areas were so large that the tree would not be able to properly heal.
The above images are of the internal decay that was affecting the tree. You can see distinct patterns of the rot and see how the soft rot has compromised the heartwood of the tree.
At Makray Memorial Golf Club, we strongly believe that trees serve a significant purpose in the environment of the club grounds. Many of these trees have been alive long before the golf course ever existed. However we can not save all the trees from disease, failure or decay. We diagnose all trees with defects to determine if saving them is within the realm of possibility. Any tree that poses immediate risk to any employee or patron is immediately removed. If you have any questions in regard to tree safety and failure, you can contact me at

Thanks, and hopefully we will be out on the course soon

Timothy Christians
Head Golf Course Superintendent
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