Previous month:
April 2012
Next month:
June 2012

May 2012

Turfgrass Mystery: what insect caused this damage?

insect damage

I'd heard of this problem from golf course superintendents in India and the Philippines, but hadn't seen it myself until last month. The grass is bermudagrass, the location is Sri Lanka, and when we dug into the soil and broke the soil apart, we saw these insects, in the video below, scurrying about. Can you identify what caused the bare spots on this green?

When we took a cup cutter plug from the green, we found it full of these active insects. 


These are termites. And they can be a recurring problem on some golf courses in tropical Asia. In fact, on some courses, termites are the major insect pest of putting greens.

Climate Chart for 94 World Cities: another view


Just a quick update about the Latin America climate chart – the map above shows the worldwide cities that are included in the dataset for the chart, all 94 of them, and the map below gives a closer look at the locations included for the Americas. See the interactive climate chart with annual climatological data for these cities here. If you would like to reproduce this world map, you can open it in your browser here, but note that it takes a while to load. 


Interactive Climate Chart: Latin America

This chart shows climatological normals data for 94 world cities with a focus on South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The full-size chart and information on the data sources and a guide to using the chart are available at
Data: sa • Chart ID: ATC_climate_chart_94 R version 2.15.0 (2012-03-30) • googleVis-0.2.15Google Terms of UseData Policy

Five More Articles Every Greenkeeper Should Read

As a follow-up to my previous post with five articles that I find quite useful and that every greenkeeper should be familiar with, here are five more articles that are sure to contain useful information.

Grass_know_costDoes the Grass Know the Cost?, by S. Zontek, D. Oatis, D. Bevard, K. Happ, J. Skorulski, B. Vavrek, and A. Moeller of the USGA Green Section and published in the Green Section Record, this article discusses the unit cost of nitrogen and the turfgrass requirment for nitrogen along with phosphorus, potassium, base cations, and micronutrients. Studying this article will help turf managers meet this goal: supplying the grass with what it needs as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Selecting the Right Grass, by John Foy, this article is relevant to warm-season areas, and Foy starts by telling us that with so many "warm-season turfgrass options available, determining the most appropriate is a daunting task." This article provides a comprehensive overview of warm-season grass selection, with particular reference to the southern United States. Used in conjunction with the climatological information presented here, one will have almost all the information necessary to find (or at least get close to choosing) the optimum grass for a particular warm-season area.

The Park Grass Experiment and the Fight Against Dogma, by Micah Woods and Frank Rossi, discusses what we consider to be one of the most interesting and overlooked experiments in the world of turfgrass ecology, yet one that has long been recognized as carrying "lessons of high importance in the growing of golf turf." Begun in 1856, and continuing to this day, the Park Grass experiment at Rothamsted Research shows us that complete fertilizers and calcium carbonate actually increase the amount of weeds, while nitrogen fertilizer alone, in moderate amounts, leads to a sward composed only of fine turfgrasses.

Low carb diet huang gsr 2006.pdf (page 2 of 3)Low-Carb Diet, by Bingru Huang with X. Liu and Q Xu, explains just what it is in that combination of high temperatures and low mowing height that causes creeping bentgrass turf to decline during the summer. Specifically, it is the negative carbohydrate balance that occurs when high temperatures are combined with low mowing heights, that negative balance being when the respiration rate exceeds the photosynthetic rate. The article described what happens, first root death, a decline in cytokinin, and eventually a decline in turf quality. This article explains what the problem is, and understanding that, a turf manager can come up with a number of solutions.

Off-Types in Ultradwarf Putting Greens, by Todd Lowe and John Foy, discusses one of the major problems with bermudagrass putting greens, why this happens, how it can be prevented, and what to do about this problem if it becomes unmanageable. I'm often asked about this, and I am glad to have this excellent article to refer people to with a full explanation.

You'll have noticed that these articles are all from the Green Section Record. This publication, since its introduction in 1921, has served as an invaluable source of information for golf course maintenance around the world. Here's one more article you might like to read, one that I wrote myself, about the first chairman of the USGA Green Section, Charles Vancouver Piper.

Asian Turfgrass Roadshow 2012 Reports


Have you seen the reports about the Asian Turfgrass Roadshow 2012 seminars? Seven reports have been posted now, at the TurfDiseases site, giving information about what Drs. Kaminski and Woods saw as they traveled through Asia for these seminars from Singapore to Beijing. Read the reports to learn about algae control, why certain grasses perform well, and others struggle, and see below for how we made our way down from the Great Wall of China.

Cartoon: Our Report on the Asian Turfgrass Roadshow 2012

Turfgrass Seminars at Singapore and Bangkok (Woods)

Singapore and Thailand from my Perspective (Kaminski)

Saigon, San Miguel, and Shade (Woods)

Two-Wheeled Vehicles and Zoysia Putting Greens (Kaminski)

Hong Kong Clouds and Beijing Botanizing (Woods)

Awesome Graphs and Cool Season Grasses! (Kaminski)

We had a great time at these seminars and would like to thank the Thailand Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Philippine Turfgrass Association, the South China Turf Managers Association, and northern China's GreenCare Association, along with The Toro Co. and their distributor Jebsen & Jessen at Singapore and Vietnam for all the help in organizing these seminars.

We recorded a video about the Roadshow too, discussing our impressions a few weeks after the seminars.

And finally, this incredible video of how we made our perilous descent from the Great Wall.

Climate in Motion: new video about grass and weather

This video, on what could be a rather dry subject – climatological normals data – is surprisingly compelling. Larry Stowell and I spoke a couple weeks ago about moving charts that show the data and how that relates to turfgrass performance and turfgrass species selection. He was at San Diego, and I was at Bangkok. We recorded the conversation and present it here in this video which includes a description of the moving charts, more laughter than one might expect from such a topic, and plenty of practical information; it is now edited and available for your viewing pleasure.

For more information about these data and an assortment of static and moving charts, including a tutorial on how to make similar charts yourself, please visit Asian Turfgrass Climate Charts.

Climate Chart for Cool Season Areas, With Tutorial

I've made a new moving bubble chart, this one focusing not exclusively on warm-season areas, but also including a wide range of cities where cool-season grasses are grown: Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Budapest, Chicago ... Madison, Minneapolis, Moscow ... Topeka, Vancouver, Washington, D.C.. In total, 52 cities, including a few of my favorite warm-season and transition-zone cities such as Atlanta, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Singapore, and Tokyo.

I've also written this short document that explains, perhaps in excruciating detail, exactly how I've gathered the data and produced this particular chart. I've included links to the data sources and software I use and provided formatted data files and the few lines of R code necessary to make the chart yourself. You may find it interesting to create charts in this format but with different data that changes with time. Perhaps it would be data from your on-site weather station? Perhaps soil test data that change with time, or labor hours to do different jobs on the course at different times of the year, or budget amounts over time, for different line items? 

Click here to go to the page to see the chart at a large size, or adjust the chart at a small size here. Almost every aspect of the chart can be adjusted to find the view of the data that is most useful for you.

Data: climate.52 • Chart ID: ATC_climate_chart_52
R version 2.14.2 (2012-02-29) • googleVis-0.2.15Google Terms of UseData Policy