It’s that time of year, when growth slows, temperatures drop and we start to get consistent and persistent dewy mornings. The main event is here – peak turfgrass disease season.
On golf greens, anthracnose and microdochium patch are chomping at the bit to start infecting new turf, to kick start their reproductive cycle. On winter sports pitches across the country, rusts (smooth-stalked meadow-grass) and leaf spot (perennial ryegrass) are rearing their heads.
However, this is also when grass plant activity and growth are slowing, so recovering from damage is much more problematic.
Cultural control programme
It is now that we find out whether the programme of cultural controls we have implemented, as part of an integrated turf management approach, have been effective at keeping turf disease in check.
The proverb “prevention is better than cure” are words of wisdom when it comes to managing both the infection and consequences of turf diseases. Solid preventative cultural practices, in combination with a preventative fungicide programme is vital.
What do we mean by preventative?
It certainly isn’t spraying fungicide on a fixed timetable irrespective of whether there is a risk of disease or not.
Preventative programmes take into account past disease history and current and future environmental conditions to assess the risk of disease developing.
There are numerous online tools and apps to help predict when conditions are conducive to disease. These, coupled with common sense and a turf manager’s experience of how disease develops on their site, are the building blocks of success when it comes to preventative disease management.
How does a preventative approach deviate from curing disease when it is already infecting turf?
With a curative approach, we are treating visible symptoms of disease, which might make it easier to justify the cost and resource needed to make an application of fungicide.
However, because we are seeing symptoms, it means the pathogen is already at work, infecting plant tissue and damaging the turf surface. Not ideal when there is little growth potential for turf recovery.
This is why preventative strategies are likely to be most effective, especially when we consider the mode of action and optimum usage window of most fungicides currently available. Prevention is definitely better than cure!
Time for some training?
To help turf managers understand the best way to combat diseases, using pesticides effectively whilst understanding the environmental impacts and fundamentals of integrated turf management, STRI is running a BASIS Foundation Award in Amenity Horticulture course on 11-13 December at our UK headquarters in Bingley.
This course is aimed at turf managers, groundsmen, greenkeepers and those who want a grounding in integrated turf management and optimising plant protection product use.
There are still some places available on this course, so if you would like to attend please call 01274 565131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org