Posted by Damon Smith at 1:27 PM Friday, August 19, 2011 Labels: heat stress , nematodes , Pythium root rot , South Central
So I bet many of you in the south are feeling like Bill Murray in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”. I know I am. Everyday we look at turfgrass samples with the same problem. Heat-related stress and decline and severe nematode populations! Many superintendents that I have spoken to are getting as frustrated as me. This heat is getting old. We are now sitting at 45 days above 100F here in Stillwater. In the Oklahoma City area they are knocking on the all-time record of 50 days! Everyday the same thing…
The OSU Turfgrass Diagnostic Laboratory has churned through a bunch of creeping bentgrass putting green samples in the last couple of weeks. The large bulk of samples have extremely short root systems. The heat has really taken its toll on creeping bentgrass in much of the south central U.S. Throw in some nematodes damaging what roots are left and we have a lot of turfgrass in serious decline. Very high populations of stunt (Tylenchorhynchus spp.) and ring (Criconemella ornata) nematodes have been observed in many of the samples submitted. We have seen populations of stunt nematodes as high as 4,000 individuals in 100 cc of soil. This is about 26 times the threshold we consider the “danger zone” on creeping bentgrass. Ring nematode populations have been coming in as high as 2,000 individuals per 100 cc soil, which is about four times the “danger zone” population level. So as you can see, things are getting tough here at the end of the summer in the south. Many are praying for cooler weather and rain. Although, those that have gotten rain have been struggling with wet greens and hot weather, which makes for a whole different set of hurdles.
Other issues in the diagnostic lab have been few and far between, but we did have one sample with Pythium root rot. This was an odd situation where the greens got dry and severe wilt began. To compensate the newly hired assistant superintendent turned the irrigation system on and severely over-irrigated multiple times. When you have lots of soil moisture and high temperatures in the rooting zone, Pythium root rot can help finish off the already declining plants. So while, not the initial cause of the problem, we did identify something other than nematodes. In our research plots, brown patch has also been active and dollar spot comes and goes pretty much as the humid weather comes and goes.
The long-term forecast is showing cooler temperatures, if we can just get through this weekend. As Dr. Kaminski has said in a previous post “there is light at the end of the tunnel.” So keep your head up and your fingers crossed for cooler temperatures, I think we will be there soon!