Good management techniques can go a long way towards minimising the effect of this disease but historically, the number of control programmes that have been able to guarantee Microdochium-control on greens, has been limited.
Now, with the launch of the Microdochium patch programme from Bayer, full control of this infection is assured for the first time.
And according to Neil Pettican from the Bayer Turf Solutions Team, the programme has been specifically developed to guarantee Microdochium patch control in the high disease risk season, until December. r.
“This programme has been designed to help greenkeepers by giving them a planned approach to disease management and aims to preventatively ‘power-up’ turf so it’s in optimum health and better able to deal with the threat of disease.
“The greenkeepers’ primary goal is getting the course ready for play and this has never been more important in an increasingly competitive environment - where customer expectations are high and turf quality and playability is key to retaining members,” says Neil.
Chemistry shouldn’t be the first port of call and, if combined with cultural and biological controls, as part of an integrated approach, Neil argues that the new Microdochium control programme is the best approach to Microdochium patch prevention.
Disease control guaranteed
“The programme includes four products and appropriate application rates - all products are applied at the full rate - and this is important. If you want the disease to be treated then the full rate has to be employed, it’s no good thinking that the disease ‘isn’t too bad’ - and applying product at half-rate, for instance. This will only encourage resistance,” says Colin Mumford, Bayer technical manager.
The preventative treatment package ensures rotation of three different chemical classes and this makes certain that resistance management is maximised. The package includes three different fungicides that are applied in 28 day intervals: Interface® with StressgardTM Formulation Technology, Dedicate® Chipco® Green and Interface® again at the end.
“The programme doesn’t have the ability to forecast weather, but trials have proven its value under all-weather scenarios and each application complements the previous one also the detailed guidelines are completely compliant with regulation – as you would expect,” says Colin.
September treatment one: the first application is Interface® with StressgardTM Formulation Technology, which is a turf specific formulation that delivers disease control and lasting protection against six key turf diseases, but it also has a dual mode of action and has been proven to enhance plant health. It’s the ideal preventative treatment to apply in September, ensuring that turf is ‘powered-up’ and healthy at the start of the disease outbreak season.
October treatment two: this is followed by a Dedicate® application 28 days later, which has a systemic action and is transferred through the plant tissue while it’s still growing, which is typical during October.
November treatment three: the third treatment utilises the tried and trusted Chipco Green, breaking up the trifloxystrobin applications, as you can only apply four strobilurins per year on turf and can only make two consecutive applications – maintaining the appropriate resistance management protocols.
December treatment four: Interface® is applied again and this is because it has efficacy in even the coldest conditions and when grass is not growing - and it promotes turf health - also key at this time of year.
According to Colin, the programme not only means that applications are in line with resistance management protocols but it has been designed to give greenkeepers peace of mind. The preventative approach will save money and time. “Reactive treatments can have huge ramifications, if, for instance there is a disease outbreak which is accompanied by a lot of rainfall, inhibiting the ability to spray. And if scarring occurs from an outbreak - this can last well into the following season - until grass starts growing again,” he says.
Included in the programme is complete advice and support from the Bayer Turf Solutions Team, who can offer guidance on applications and the employment of cultural and biological controls.
“All golf courses are completely different – and in a perfect world, all golf courses would be ‘links’ style courses where ideal conditions are commonplace. This is good airflow, uninterrupted sunlight, free draining soil, no shade and, finer grass species better able to withstand disease.
“The reality is that most golf courses don’t have these conditions, and in-land courses often have issues such as shade from surrounding trees, and lack of airflow. The key is to try to replicate the ideal conditions as much as possible. This can be achieved with a combined cultural, biological and chemical approach,” says Colin.
Colin Mumford’s top three tips for cultural control measures
1) Ensure adequate moisture and nutrition
The issue: Applying too much water and fertiliser creates a ‘grass factory’ causing grass to grow too fast leading to the formation of excess organic matter, often referred to as thatch. Thatch can have a detrimental effect on surface performance characteristics (soft surfaces) and can create the perfect conditions for disease to thrive.
The advice: Avoid the temptation to apply nitrogen when it’s not required. One way to do this is to monitor the amount of clippings being removed during mowing events - this should give a good visual indication of plant nutrition needs. Employ the use of soil moisture meters to find the correct level of moisture for the environment and plan irrigation accordingly.
2) Thatch reduction
The issue: Thatch at or near the surface, doesn’t break down easily because it contains lignin and cellulose (important structural materials in grass). The accumulation of thatch acts like a sponge and absorbs and holds onto moisture, providing the damp conditions that can enable diseases to flourish.
Advice: Removing thatch by verti-cutting or scarifying i.e. physically removing excess organic matter, as well as top dressing to dilute any thatch build up. Carry out aeration, specifically hollow tining – which also physically removes organic matter – which also improves gaseous exchange (CO2 out, O2 in) amongst other things.
3) Keeping the surface as dry as possible
The issue: The longer dew is left on a surface, the longer the pathogens have to develop in optimum conditions.
Advice: Remove dew as soon as possible, whether the preferred method be switching or brushing. Typically, during the disease risk season mowing will be taking place each day, and generally, removing dew before mowing can also have the added benefit of ensuring a better quality of cut.
The biological approach to pest and disease management is becoming increasingly employed as part of an integrated approach, and Colin has three top tips to consider to complement a disease prevention programme.
Colin’s top three tips for successful biological control:
1) Introducing new grass varieties
Although this may be seen as a cultural control, Colin argues that it’s a living organism, and therefore forms part of the biological approach. Introducing new varieties that are bred to be more tolerant to disease should be considered for over seeding. The Turfgrass Seed 2016 guide includes a number of options that are tailored to specific needs such as shoot density, disease resistance, winter greenness and summer greenness. And for specific advice it’s important to contact your agronomist or seed breeder/supplier.
2) Microbial inoculants
The rootzone will have a microbial community to some extent, depending on the make-up of the rootzone. The ideal rootzone would have more antagonists (good guys) than pathogens (bad guys). Introducing a microbial inoculant can bolster the population of antagonists, and potentially benefit turf health. Microbiological populations and diversity can also aid thatch breakdown and disease mitigation.
3) Biological products
‘Natural enemies’ of insect pests, also known as biological control agents, include predators, parasitoids, and pathogens. Biological control agents of plant diseases are most often referred to as antagonists. It’s Important to keep your ears to the ground on industry developments. In the agricultural and horticultural industries, biologicals are becoming increasingly prevalent.
The Microdochium patch programme has been developed to deliver optimum Microdochium patch control from September 1st 2016 through to December 31st 2016 as part of an integrated approach with full support from the by the Bayer Turf Solutions Team on all cultural, biological and chemical processes.
Get in touch
Contact the Bayer Turf Solutions Team for more information or to discuss your individual requirements via firstname.lastname@example.org or 00800 1214 9451