Well, like the others (Megan, call sign 'Wraith'- see this site, Frank, call sign 'Yankee', Jim, call sign 'Yoda', and John, call sign 'Weasel') conference season has been in full swing. I attended the North Carolina Turfgrass Conference in Show a couple of weeks ago and had a great time sharing information about fungicide programming with the superintendents in NC. The faculty and staff at NCSU were extremely hospitable and I enjoyed my visit there. Last week I was in San Diego like the everyone else to work with our students on the Turf Bowl Challenge, and to work with the cooperators from the various agrochemical companies that conduct research with us. It was a good show, and I am looking forward to spring arriving.
I thought I would also share with you some of the questions that came up during my visit in NC on fungicide programming. The main concern had to do with budgetary restrictions, and that is something we have seen all over these days. Rather than starting with the 'kid @ the concession stand' approach of "how much can I buy for this much?", I would suggest building a fungicide program as if you didn't have a budget. This way will allow you to start with a top program, and then whittle away at the edges of the program and make small changes that can save you dollars, but doesn't impact the integrity of the program. The key to doing this is to make sure you first identify the major priorities that you want the program to cover. For most growing bentgrass, that would be Pythium, dollar spot, and brown patch. If you are managing Poa annua those priorities will shift slightly, and you will be focused on dollar spot, crown rotting anthracnose, and summer patch. Finally, if bermuda is the grass of choice, spring dead spot, Rhizoctonia leaf and sheath blight (a.k.a. mini-ring), and perhaps dollar spot might be issues. The key is for you to identify your priorities and build a top-shelf program that fits. Doing this, it is pretty easy to identify some treatments that you can adjust/remove and save 15-20% of the cost of the top-shelf program. Further cuts should be focused around the times of year where disease isn't a major concern, and cultural controls might have more impact. One of the questions that is popping up more frequently is the "rambo" or pitting dollar spot. I believe that this type of symptom is often seen where N fertility has been drastically reduced either because of greenspeed concerns, or budgetary restrictions. Remember that a healthy plant with adequate N fertility will allow the fungicides you do apply to work better and longer than plants that are N starved.
The last item that I notice with regard to programming, is the doubling up of fungicide applications. This happens particularly frequently with the phosphite class of chemistry. I have had several superintendents describe their programs to me, and frequently there are multiple phosphite products in there for different reasons. Look through your program and make sure you aren't doubling up resources. Use fungicide combinations that make sense to target the diseases that are a priority, and these strategies can help save another 5-10%.
Now- for the second part of my title; Why I choose Houston when flying west in the winter. Wikipedia sums it up best:
"Snow is unusual in Houston, with an event occurring nearly every 4 years. Snow has fallen ap
proximately 30 times since 1895, more recently on December 4, 2009. Freezing rain events, also known as ice storms, can be detrimental to local traffic, and can close schools and businesses. The most recent ice storms occurred in 1997 and 2007."
"An average year sees frost on 36 days; snowfall averages about 2 inches (5 cm) annually. The heaviest single storm brought 10 inches (25 cm) on January 23, 1940. Blizzards are rare but possible; one hit in March 1993. Frequent ice storms can cause more problems than snow; the most severe such storm may have occurred on January 7, 1973."
While I don't do too much betting (I do like blackjack), I like my chances in a place where on average a snow event occurs once every 4 years versus annual snowfall totaling 2 inches. I had little trouble getting back- but there was some excitement on my return trip to Knoxville. Continental had to move a pilot to Knoxville to fly a plane, but our plane was full (b/c of weather, etc.). So, they bumped a paying, ticket-holding customer in favor of their employee. On the surface this seemed to be a poor choice, but as I thought about it, it occurred to me that is was probably better to inconvenience a single person, than to have to cancel another flight due to the lack of a pilot. Travel delays suck, no doubt, but when it happens try to remember that you will get a lot farther with a smile, than by being demanding- one of the bumped passengers buddies was asked to leave after throwing a tirade and being disrespectful to the flight crew...
and as for my call sign- 'Cajun', I think I like that one...
Over and out!