After a difficult winter for turf disease control many golf greens, tees and surrounds may be suffering the effects of scarring and patches of weak growth, according to Dr Simon Watson, Syngenta Technical Manager. The slow start to spring and periods of prolonged cold weather with icy winds has delayed recovery and opportunities for remedial action, he added.
Focus is now on management techniques to get greens back in top condition and with improved playing surface quality.
Dr Watson reported that well-timed applications of Medallion TL had proven extremely effective in preventing infections and maintaining turf health over the harsh winter months. However, over the course of the winter, the number of infective disease spores would have inevitably built up. “Turf plants now need to be protected from early spring disease infection, to give them the best chance of recovery,” he advised.
In the spring, when surface conditions are often wet, disease infection can hit turf plants that have been weakened over the winter, he warned. With limited reserves and growing conditions still restricted by cool nights and short days, the effects of Microdochium (Fusarium) Patch can be severe. Disease infection can be especially damaging for establishing new seedlings.
When soil temperatures reach 7°C or more and with turf beginning to grow Dr Watson advocated the cool-weather systemic, Banner Maxx, was the best option to get fast uptake into the leaf and rapid movement within the plant. “The aim is to target and kill any disease pathogen in the leaf that has germinated with the beginnings of mycelia growth, but before it has chance to develop and result in visible damage to the leaf surface and playing quality.
Dr Watson reiterated that systemic activity is essential once turf is actively growing, since any contact protection will quickly grow up the leaf and be cut off, leaving newly emerging growth at the base of the plant unprotected and especially vulnerable to infection from spores in the thatch.
“The systemic active in Banner Maxx continues to move up with new growth, replenishing protection through the early weeks of recovery.”
Feed for spring growth
To further enhance this recovery and get turf plants growing strongly, Everris Technical Manager, Henry Bechelet, added it is essential to provide appropriate nutrition that can be readily taken and utilised in promoting tillering and improved turf cover.
“There are various fertilizers specifically designed to initiate strong early season growth when conditions allow,” he said. “Everris Greenmaster Pro-Lite Invigorator 4-0-8+2MgO+4Fe and SierraformGT K-Step 6-0-27+2MgO+TE are both popular choices at this time of year to provide a quick response. The new Greenmaster Pro-Lite Cold Start 11-5-5+8Fe formulation is also aimed at initiating growth at lower temperatures.”
Mr Bechelet advised liquid fertilizers can also be used to help generate recovery in the spring, with the Greenmaster Liquid Spring & Summer 12-4-6+TE appropriate for use at this time. “Ultimately the choice of product should depend on the individual site conditions,” he said.
Dr Watson added that greenkeepers and turf mangers can use a simple digital soil thermometer, costing around £25, to keep a track of temperatures, or view a five-day forecast of predicted local soil temperatures available free to all registered users of the GreenCast website.
Key tips for spring turf recovery
- Keep surfaces as dry as possible and encourage air-flow
- Reduce cutting height gradually as turf growth increases
- Use cool weather systemic Banner Maxx to protect from disease
- Feed with a fast uptake fertiliser programme
- Encourage tillering to fill gaps and create a dense surface
Syngenta turf products are distributed in the UK by Everris. www.everris.co.uk