Sygenta business manager for turf, vegetation and pest management, Daniel Lightfoot told meeting of greenkeepers and groundsmen at Purdis Heath Golf Club near Ipswich last week, that protecting turf from infection going into the winter will be key to maintaining consistent surface quality through the season.
He recommended a proactive fungicide strategy, alongside effective cultural controls, highlighting the potential pathogen risk from infection sources in thatch, as time left for recovery from any disease damage before the winter now limited as autumn soil temperatures cool.
"Reducing the infection pressure from disease spores cuts the risk of attack, and gives any fungicide application the best chance of delivering longer lasting results," he said.
"Treatment timing and application techniques have huge influence in helping turf resist infection through periods of weather conditions favourable to disease," he said.
Lightfoot reported new trials results from STRI that had demonstrated Syngenta product Medallion TL application starting at the onset of periods of increased disease risk, but before serious effects were seen, maintained the best turf quality scores through the winter.
"Using a proactive three-spray trial programme, at 28 day intervals, Medallion TL plots still had zero infection at the end of January – over 50 days since the final application," he said. "Untreated plots had reached 16% surface infection over the course of the winter.
"With the turf protected, any initial infection cleared up, and then stayed clean right through the winter. It further reinforced the advice to use fungicides preventatively at the very first signs of disease, and to maintain protection through risk periods over the winter."
He said that the contact+ activity of Medallion TL was especially well suited to the seasonal timing, to both target disease pathogens in the thatch that would reduce infection pressure, and to protect the leaf from attack.
In the longer term, Lightfoot said integrated turf management (ITM) practices would help to get the best performance from fungicide applications. Keeping surfaces dry, by physically switching off dew and improving air flow and light, for example, created conditions less conducive for disease. Removing thatch had a double benefit of reducing the host of disease pathogens and also enhancing surface firmness. Appropriate nutrition to maintain plant health would also reduce susceptibility.
"All the ITM practices help to enhance turf health and make plants better able to resist the effects of disease infection. Then, during periods of stress or high risk, the application of fungicides will give longer lasting and more effective results.
"ITM is an essential component of the disease control strategy, and a key part of the Syngenta fungicide philosophy that can be tailored to the needs of each individual situation, to use as little as possible, but as much as necessary," he added.
Lightfoot was named a master greenkeeper by BIGGA, during his 10-year-tenure managing the 18-hole Bearwood Lakes Golf Club in Berkshire, before joining Syngenta.