Friday, June 28, 2013


Nick Christians
June 28, 2013

This post is from Marc Davison, superintendent of Green Bay (WI) Country Club, and major Chicago Blackhawk fan.  He has been trying to control Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).  Neither of these weeds can survive mowing for long in maintained turf and there is not a lot work on their control in turf areas.  In no-mow areas, however, they thrive.  Mark has been experimenting with various herbicides and has found that Garlon (triclopyr) from Dow Chemical is doing the job.  He uses 2 oz per gallon of water and spot treats the target weeds.  He is still working on Rough Horsetail (Equisetum  hyemale) a related species and will let us know now it works.  I grew up calling horsetail (puzzle weed) because its stem can be disassembled and put back together like a puzzle.  Some of you may recognize that name.

The picture below shows the horsetail turning white and the leaves of the milkweed turning yellow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Nick Christians
June 26, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a picture of coral fungus from a lawn in Iowa.  That prompted the following pictures from a reader of the blog.  This is a strange organism growing on urea pellets.  I had not anything like this before, so I sent it on to Melissa Irizarry at the Plant Disease lab.  Melissa decided that it is not a coral fungi, but was not sure what it was.  She sent to Leonor Leandro in plant pathology.  Leonor doesn't think that it is a fungi at all, but that it may be a bryophyte or maybe an unusual moss.  She sent it on to Jim Colbert, an expert in these types of organisms.  Jim says the following:

1.  They aren't coral fungi

2.  They could be lichens in the genus Leptogium, some of which look a bit like this (  when they're wet. Were these specimens wet?

3.  The specimen in the center of "fungi 2.jpg" looks very much like an acrocarpous moss.

4.  Fertilizer pellets would be a pretty unusual habitat for either of these types of organisms…

We are getting a sample to study in more detail.

Has anyone else out there seen this type of organism growing on urea (or any type of fertilizer) pellets?

Monday, June 24, 2013


Nick Christians
June 24, 2013

Here is some information from former graduate student, Nick Dunlap, on some work he is doing with bermudagrass control in ryegrass in Virginia. 

From Nick Dunlap:
The images show the effect of topramezone on bermudagrass in bentgrass and ryegrass 4 days after treatment.  Bleaching typical of HPPD inhibitors is easily seen on the bermudagrass.  Topramezone was applied at 0.25 oz/acre and 0.75 oz/acre on bentgrass fairways and ryegrass shortcut, respectively.  Both applications were applied through a carrier volume of 2 gal/acre.

Nick has been having pretty good luck turning the bermudagrass white, he will keep us posted about control. 

I did some checking on this new product labeled as Pylex from BASF.  Here is what I found at
Pylex™ herbicide is the standard for the control of Bermudagrass and goosegrass in cool-season turf, providing unmatched performance on these difficult-to-eliminate weeds. It has also shown excellent control of nimblewill, crabgrass, clover, speedwell, and others. Pylex herbicide should always be used with a crop oil concentrate (COC) to improve herbicide coverage, resulting in improved weed control.
Pylex herbicide has shown it is safe to most cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass.  It has shown varied tolerance on bentgrass (moderate to severe injury) and annual bluegrass (minimal to moderate injury) at labeled use rates. Warm-season turfgrass is sensitive to Pylex herbicide, with the exception of centipedegrass, which is tolerant.

The web indicates that it should be available by mid-June.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Iowa State Goes "Electric" from the Help of Jacobsen and Turfwerks

Every year at the GCSAA and STMA conferences, Jacobsen states how orange is everywhere. Well now orange is everywhere, including the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station. Late last month, Jacobsen and Turfwerks donated an Eclipse II 122 electric walking greens mower to the turfgrass research facility.

The mower has been a great addition to the arsenal here at the farm. This is the first electric mower that the turfgrass research has owned or operated. Within a short month, students have been exposed to the newest technology in turfgrass maintenance. This model, along with many others, has an on-board computer that allows the operator to set the frequency of clip (FOC) within a couple of minutes. This feature has been very useful when changing the height of cut.

I would like to thank Jacobsen and Turfwerks for their very generous donation and their continued help and support to prepare students for the future.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Nick Christians
June 20, 2013

Here is a new one for me.  These pictures are from Melissa Irizarry in the Plant and Insect Diagnostic laboratory at Iowa State University.  It was found in an Iowa Lawn.  She identified it as Coral Fungi.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The clavarioid fungi are a group of fungi in the Basidiomycota typically having erect, simple or branched basidiocarps (fruit bodies) that are formed on the ground, on decaying vegetation, or on dead wood. They are colloquially called club fungi and coral fungi. Originally such fungi were referred to the genus Clavaria ("clavarioid" means Clavaria-like), but it is now known that clavarioid species are not all closely related. Since they are often studied as a group, it is convenient to retain the informal (non-taxonomic) name of "clavarioid fungi" and this term is frequently used in research papers.

I have never seen it before.  I am wondering if anyone else out there is running into it.  Let me know by e-mail

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Nick Christians
June 19, 2013

Here is some additional information on the bermudagrass on the Dowling High School baseball field in West Des Moines, Iowa.  The pictures are from Eric Van Ginkel of the Iowa Cubs, who is involved in the care of the field.  It shows the problem of bermudagrass stolons encroaching on the infield.  This is not a problem with the Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass, because neither has a spreading rhizome.  If any of you involved in sports turf management have noticed this on your fields recently, it is likely either bermudagrass of Zoysiagrass.  While Zoysia is more common in Iowa turf, the bermudagrass is increasing in the region and has the most aggressive stolon growth of the two species.  We are also seeing more of it in Iowa lawns.  Watch for stolon growth over the sidewalks and drive ways.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Nick Christians
June 17, 2013

On September 18, 2012 I put up a post from Eric Van Ginkel showing a large amount of bermudagrass (Cynadon dactylon) on the Dowling high school ball field in West Des Moines.  The picture below is from last fall.  The bermudagrass is the lighter colored grass.

I stopped out at the field on June 7 to see how the bermuda had overwintered.  Here is a picture of  the field from June 7.  The bermuda has overwinetered well and is blending in well with the Kentucky bluegrass.  I'll try to get a picture again this fall to see if the bermudagrass has increased or decreased over the summer.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Nick Christians
June 10, 2013

Conditions have been very wet in the Midwest this spring, which has resulted in a very fast growth rate of turf.  Most of us are having a hard time keeping up with mowing.  These wet conditions in spring are often followed by a leaf spot breakout in turf.  The picture below is from the Chicago area.  It shows the typical leaf spot symptoms on fairway bent.

Symptoms generally include blighting from the tip down on bent, rather than the standard leaf spot lesions seen on other species.  The turf on the area may also look like it is dry, even if the soil is wet.  The grass also takes on a brown "haze" when you look at it from a distance.

The fungi that causes this is usually attributed to Bipolaris or Dreschslera (formerly Helminthosporium), depending on the author.  I will let the pathologist sort that one out.

Chlorthalonil (Daconil and other commercial names) is the standard answer for this problem, although there are several fungicides labeled for this disease.

This disease can also hit greens, but most golf courses are treating greens and it is not as common as it once was.  Because of the cost, fewer superintendents are treating fairways and that is where we are seeing most of the problem this spring.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Nick Christians
June 4, 2013

The wet weather has resulted in an increase in slime mold showing up on lawns.  This problem is caused by primitive fungi that exist primarily as saprophytes (organisms that live on dead organic material) and use living grass plants for support.  Fungi in the genera Muctlaga and Physarium are usually the causal agents.  They can take on a wide variety forms.  Sometimes people describe it as something that looks like the dog threw up on the lawn.  Other times it looks like gray slime on the leaves.  Then, it can take on some truly strange appearances that you would not associate with a fungi.

The fungi can be washed off with a hose.  It will usually go away after the wet dreary weather changes.   We generally do not recommend fungicides for this problem.

Larry Ginger of American Lawn Care sent in the first picture earlier this week.  This is typical of the way slime molds generally appear in wet weather.

 Here is a close up of some slime mold from the research station.

Here is one from my own lawn that looks like the dog threw up.

Here is the most unusual one that I have seen.  This came from a lawn in Iowa.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Van Wall Helping Iowa State "Go Green"

Early last month, Van Wall delivered a new John Deere 2500-E Hybrid greens mower for the ISU Horticulture Research Station to use for the upcoming season. So far, we have seen up to 30% in fuel savings while never having the risk of having a hydraulic leak.  The hybrid model can be operated at lower RPM's allowing for a more quiet and comfortable operation.

The new mower will be used to maintain turf plots as well as a teaching aid for students. This allows Iowa State to educate students on the newest technology in turfgrass equipment.

The turfgrass research at the ISU Horticulture Research Station is grateful for this generous donation from John Deere and Van Wall and a special thanks to Joe Blaker at Van Wall for making all of the arrangements.