Alberta Turfgrass Research Foundation: Quarterly Update 10/15/2021

By Jason Pick

The ATRF begins its third quarter pleased to announce our newest board member; David Misfeldt, from the City of Calgary.

David Misfeld presented at the 2020 WCTA Conference in Richmond, BC

David's expertise focuses on progressive landscape management and integrating environmental education into this sector. A graduate of University of Calgary and Olds College in Horticulture and Business Marketing, he is inspired by conservation, having built the Bee and pollinator friendly corridor in Calgary.  In 2018,  he identified an endangered bee which received commendation by the Director General of Environment and Climate Change Canada.  David has also performed extensive Saltgrass projects throughout the greater Calgary area, contributing his expertise in the area of landscape sustainability.  

Lab update: Pythium is king in 2021:
This summer the diagnostic lab was flooded with turf samples for disease testing. The hot, dry, and smoky summer saw an unprecedented spike in Pythium Root dysfunction.   We believe contributing to this spike (1700% increase year over year) were extended heat and daytime highs, a lack of rainfall, and heavy smoke from wildfires. The associated wildfire emissions are known to affect solar radiation, clouds, and climate on regional scales. The necessity of repeated watering and hand watering to offset extreme heat, we believe, were the key contributors in 2021 disease pressures. Of interest, and potentially further research, we found a strong correlation of 100% foliar fertility programs to these high pythium incidents. It may prompt further research - food for thought in the realm of resource allocation, as the saying goes “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, perhaps this applies to our roots too.   If you wish to send a disease sample to the ATRF lab, our 24hr turnaround can help settle your mind.  LINK to disease submission form

 It’s Microdochium Season! 

Its high time to apply your 1st (or second) preventative fungicide application for Fusarium, AKA  Microdochium spp. As temperatures fall between 10-15’C, you may find the tell tale copper spot (right) of microdochium.  Typically around 2cm but rarely beyond 20cm,  patches may coalesce on infected greens. 

The sporulating hyphae will develop into a mat of mycelium easily identified with the naked eye.  Transferred by traffic, water, equipment, etc., we can expect microdochium during those cool, humid and/or wet conditions with low oxygen/compacted rootzones.  Infected samples can be confirmed in the lab by presence of conidia.  (right bottom).  

Unlike typhula, the pink fluffy mycelium is visible due to spore production/stimulation by sunlight - typhula requires a cover of darkness.  Until we find a way to destroy resting stage conidia,  recommendations remain preventative.  

The long interval systemic control products are best applied while temperatures remain conducive to translocation 10-15’C.  Below an average daily high of 10’C), we should assume very little is getting into the plant, therefore contact formulations may prove more effective for late season. Reminder - never mow after your last app! 

Carbohydrate production in Fall
In case you missed it, ATRF research in 2020/21 proved that fall fertility, specifically N & K at minimum target ratio of 1/0/.5 will better your chances at overwintering by storing sufficient carbs. The foliar fall fertility protect report can be found here: LINK to ATRF

Prairie Turfgrass Research Center: Update
As you know the ATRF has been in transition since Olds College’s center of innovation has divested itself in order to focus 

on its Smart Ag. directives.  After that decision, the ATRF and Olds College  formulated a new agreement which will retain the “Prairie Turfgrass Research Center” within Olds College’s School of Business and Life Sciences.  The new agreement formally recognizes the research center as mutually beneficial to the school, its students, and industry.  With aligned purpose, Olds College will continue to support ATRF operations, and will fortify its connection to industry, program faculty, and Turf/golf program students.  A generous support of in-kind sharing of infrastructure and administration, the new agreement secures a future for applied turfgrass research at Olds College indefinitely.  Special thanks to Ike Ideogu, Joy Agnew of OCCI, and College Dean Dalin Bullock, who have been instrumental in generating this solution.