Q: My turf looks sick. What should I do?
A: If you find leatherjackets in the greens or Fusarium on the courts, you need to react fast to prevent a lower playing experience causing users to find other facilities for their sport. Early control should cause less disruption to play and may also mean less product is required to bring the turf back to health. But before reaching for the sprayer and a pack of chemical, you must work through a decision process.
It is essential that the problem is accurately diagnosed so that you know what you are dealing with. And when it comes to pests and diseases it may not be that easy to find the underlying problem. Some diseases can result in symptoms similar to those brought on by nutritional disorders while damage may be caused by a predator sniffing out insects and grubs. Any doubts about the diagnosis should be referred to an expert either by sending a sample to a laboratory or calling in a consultant.
The extent of the problem should also be assessed so you can consider the implications - both practical and financial - before deciding whether it is necessary to spray. The status of the turf should also be taken into account. Refer back to your records - look at what was involved dealing with previous infestations and how effective it proved.
Finally, it is mandatory to follow instructions on pesticide labels and do not forget that the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994 require employers to carry out a sufficient assessment of health risks before work starts.
Q: Are there any new treatments for Fusarium?
A: Syngenta has gained approval for its new Contact+ turf fungicide Medallion TL. Based on the active fludioxonil, it not only targets disease pathogens on the leaf surface but has the same effect on Fusarium spores in the thatch layer and the soil surface, according to Syngenta technical manager Dr Simon Watson.
"Medallion TL will change the way we think about disease control, not only protecting from infection but also reducing spore numbers and lowering the risk of further infection," he says. "That makes it incredibly effective as an autumn and winter Contact+ treatment but could also have a really valuable effect to prevent disease outbreaks triggered by spring and summer aeration or maintenance activities."
Watson highlights that Medallion TL has an exciting new mode of action for turf that triggers treated disease spores to rapidly absorb water, to the point where they quite literally explode. "This happens so quickly there is no time for the spore to grow and infect the leaf, thus preventing damage to the surface and reducing subsequent threat," he adds. "Since Medallion TL was bio-inspired by a naturally occurring antifungal compound of soil bacteria, it will destroy selected turf disease pathogens but leave soil microbes with different protein structures unaffected. We see this as a really exciting opportunity to develop new disease control strategies."
Medallion TL is approved for use across all areas of the golf course and managed amenity turf and amenity grassland at the recommended rate of three litres per hectare, with up to four applications per year. It will be distributed by Scotts Professional.
See our Turf Pesticides Product table for a listing of products, their active ingredients, target pests/diseases, recommendation notes and manufacturer info.