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February 2009

January 2009

Nematode Damage

Nematode 021 Nematode damage can cause severe problems on highly-maintained turfgrass. I have recently received a number of inquiries about nematode control, and I wanted to share some information on this topic for those who may be interested.

Nematodes are very small worms; there are many different species of nematodes, some of which are harmless or even beneficial, and others that damage turfgrass plants which are termed plant pathogenic or plant parasitic nematodes. In short, the problem associated with high populations of plant pathogenic nematodes is a stunted root system. When the root system is restricted, the turfgrass will be particularly susceptible to drought, nutrient deficiencies, and other stresses.

This is an excellent reference on nematodes by Dr. William Crow: Nematode Management for Golf Courses in Florida.

For a summary of the problems nematodes may cause, what control measures are available, and how to minimize nematode damage, I recommend this article from Australian Turfgrass Management, Managing Nematode Pests on Turfgrass by Dr. Graham Stirling. 

Nematode 022

I would summarize the turfgrass nematode problem by noting three crucial points:

  1. There are very few chemicals that can be used to control nematodes, these products tend to be extremely toxic, and their use should be minimized
  2. By the time you can see turfgrass damage from nematodes, it is too late; the damage is done, it will take careful management to allow the grass to recover, and pesticide applications at this point may allow the turf to recover faster, but there is already significant damge.
  3. This is the crucial point - MINIMIZE turfgrass stresses so that nematode damage does not cause unplayable turfgrass conditions. Create a rootzone environment that is amenable to turfgrass root growth, avoid drought stress, eliminate any nutrient deficiencies, don't cause undue stress on the turf by cutting with dull blades or smothering the leaves in topdressing sand. If we can reduce the stress that the turf is under, nematode damage will be minimized. As Dr. Stirling wrote in his article:
In situations where stress factors are apparent, turf managers should attempt to minimise these stresses before considering other options

Nematodes can cause severe damage to turfgrass stands, but the damage is not a given; by implementing a turfgrass management program that minimizes stress on the turfgrass, turfgrass problems associated with nematodes can be avoided.

Sustainable Turfgrass Management Seminars - March 2009

A series of turfgrass seminars will be held from 9 March to 16 March in Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia. These seminars are organized by the national golf organizations in each country and are supported by The R&A. For a full schedule, list of topics, and registration information, please check the seminar website.

In short, these seminars will provide a framework for sustainable management of golf course turfgrass in Southeast Asia. The R&A's Golf Course Committee define sustainability as optimising the playing quality of the golf course in harmony with the conservation of its natural environment under economically sound and socially responsible management. These seminars have been designed to provide this information, and will be a great opportunity to learn more about turfgrass management.

Asian turf seminar-1

First Mow of ATC Green

We started building this green at the start of November, planted fifteen different grasses by 20 November, and have been fertilizing, topdressing, and watering the grass until today, when we mowed it (at 10 mm) for the first time.

2009-01-06 at 14-24-09

It is quite interesting to see how the different grasses grow-in when they are planted side-by-side. The Zoysia matrella varieties that we have planted grow very slow and I did not mow them today. All of the bermudagrass varieties have grown in well, with the Tifgreen 328 variety growing especially rapidly.

Come to visit the ATC research area anytime to see these grasses for yourself. As the cutting height is lowered and the grass quality becomes more like a green, we will start collecting ball roll data to see how the speed differs among different grass varieties maintained with the same equipment.

See additional photos of the green construction project and grow-in here.

Excellent Grass Selection

This week I visited a new golf course (The Banyan Golf Club) at Hua Hin in Thailand. The course sits in a beautiful valley just a few minutes drive from the beach at Hua Hin. The Banyan Golf Club has Tifeagle bermudagrass greens, native zoysiagrass fairways and rough, and seashore paspalum tees.

This grass selection is not typical for new courses in Thailand; most new courses built here in the last decade have used hybrid bermudagrass or seashore paspalum on the fairways and rough. The choice of zoysiagrass was an excellent one because zoysia grows vigorously in Thailand throughout the year, provides a superb playing surface and produces good aesthetics, all while being more resistant to weed invasion and diseases than either bermudagrass or seashore paspalum.


With this choice of grasses, I expect the maintenance of the course to be easier and to cost less money than if other grasses had been chosen. Seashore paspalum has great color and provides an excellent playing surface, but it requires a lot of careful attention. Specifically, in the climate of Southeast Asia, seashore paspalum is more susceptible to diseases than is zoysia, and paspalum also requires more supplemental water than zoysia. By placing seashore paspalum on the tees, the high quality playing surface that is possible with this grass can be obtained on the areas that golfers see on each hole. Because the tees are flat, it is easy to supply the necessary amount of water to the paspalum. And then the bulk of the course area is planted to the native zoysia which is a tougher grass - it can withstand the droughty conditions of Thailand's dry season (November to April) better than seashore paspalum.

The course accessories are also distinctive. The land where the golf course sits was formerly a pineapple plantation, and bits of the agricultural land have been left in some native areas of the course. The tee markers (on the immaculate seashore paspalum tees) are a unique design that matches the property - to a tee.