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White grubs / White Grubs
« Last post by admin on May 04, 2011, 04:05:06 PM »
White grubs are the most important insect pests of lawns and turf in our region. There are 11 species of white grubs in the Northeast. Some are limited to small geographic areas and others occur only in certain turf conditions. The most common white grubs are foreign imports such as Oriental beetle, Japanese beetle, Asiatic garden beetle, green June beetle and European chafer.

General Identification
Adults of white grubs are scarab beetles, and they have several characteristics in common: They have hard wing covers, chewing mouthparts and antennae ending in a club made of flat plates held tightly together. They range in size from 1/4-inch (Asiatic garden beetle) to nearly one inch (green June beetles). Specific descriptions of the adults of the more common species are provided below. The adults do not feed on turfgrass, but those of some species, such as Asiatic garden beetle and Japanese beetle, feed on a wide range of other plants and can be significant pests of ornamental plants in the landscape and in fruit and vegetable gardens.

All white grub species have three larval stages. The larval body consists of a brown head capsule with chewing-type mandibles; a thorax with three pairs of short, jointed legs; and the abdomen. Thorax and abdomen are gray-white to cream colored, but the hind part of the abdomen often appears darker because of ingested soil and plant material in the gut. The wrinkled skin is covered with scattered, short brown hairs.

Feeding or resting grubs assume a characteristic C shape. Mature larvae range in length from about 3/4 inch (Asiatic garden beetle) to two inches (green June beetle). White grubs can be identified by examining the pattern of spines, hairs and bare spaces on the underside of the abdomen just in front of the anus. The shape of the anal slit also varies among species. A 10- to 15- power hand lens is adequate for viewing these species-specific features.

Damage Signs and Symptoms
White grubs damage turf by chewing off roots close to the soil surface. The voracious feeding of late second- and third- stage grubs, when combined with hot and dry conditions, can result in quick and extensive loss of turf from late August through mid-October. In spring, damage is less common; it usually occurs only under exceptionally warm and dry conditions. All cool-season and many warm-season grasses are susceptible to white grubs, but tolerance to damage varies.

Being alert to the symptoms of white grub infestations helps avoid extensive damage. First signs of infestation include gradual thinning, yellowing and wilting in spite of adequate soil moisture, and the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. The patches can grow together until large turf areas are affected. Infested turf feels spongy underfoot due to the larval tunneling and can be pulled up like a carpet, exposing the C-shaped larvae. Secondary, often more severe damage can be caused by vertebrate predators (e.g., crows, skunks, raccoons, moles) that tear up or tunnel under the turf to feed on the grubs, sometimes even at grub densities that don’t cause turf damage on their own.

Seasonal History and Habits
Adult beetles emerge between June and August. Adults either don’t feed (masked chafers), feed very little (Oriental beetle, European chafer) or feed extensively on many different plants (Asiatic garden beetle, Japanese beetle) and fruit (green June beetle). After mating, the females return to the soil to lay eggs individually or in small batches (total of 20 to 60) over a period of two to four weeks, typically at a depth of one to four inches.

The egg stage, first larval stage, and second larval stage each last about two to three weeks. At the latitude of New Jersey most of the grubs will molt to the third larval stage during September, but further north many grubs will not reach the third larval stage until October or even spring, and some larvae may take two years to complete development.

When the soil is warm and moist, grubs may be found feeding throughout the root-zone. (Green June beetle larvae feed on dead plant matter, not live roots.) The majority are no more than one or two inches below the thatch. As the soil cools in October, the grubs move to deeper soil layers, where they overwinter in an inactive state. However, European chafer grubs continue feeding later into fall and resume feeding earlier in spring than other species. As the soil warms in spring, the grubs return to the root zone to feed for another four to six weeks in April and May (and into early June in more northern areas) before pupating in the soil at a depth of two to eight inches. After one to two weeks, the new beetles emerge to restart the life cycle.

Monitor for white grub populations in mid-August. Adult beetles generally prefer to lay their eggs in sunny locations on well-managed and well-watered turfgrass, so focus sampling on those areas. In areas of suspected infestation, low tolerance areas or areas with a history of grub infestation, take sod/soil samples with a golf hole cup cutter or a flat blade spade to a depth of three inches and look for grubs. Record the number and species (check raster pattern with a hand lens) found in each sampling spot on a data sheet or map. Place the soil and sod cap back and irrigate, if conditions are dry, to promote turf recovery.

Take several samples in a grid pattern. If no historical records exist, lay out a grid throughout the turf area (six- to 10-foot squares on lawns, 10- to 20- foot squares on sports fields), take a sample at each spot and record the number, species and stage of grubs found. Transform numbers into grubs per square foot values.

Damage thresholds lie in the range of six to 10 (Japanese beetle, Oriental beetle, European chafer, green June beetle) and 15 to 20 (Asiatic garden beetle) grubs per square foot. However, well maintained turf with an extensive root system can tolerate higher grub densities. Only treat areas in which grub densities exceed the damage threshold.

Asiatic Garden Beetle
Adults: 1/4-inch, velvety brown.
  • Voracious nighttime feeder on flowers and leaves of 100 host plants
  • Hides under weeds during the day, flies to lights at night
  • Larvae: Dominant in mossy lawns
  • Crescent raster

European Chafer
     Adults: 1/2-inch, light reddish-brown with slightly darker head and on the segment just behind head and distinct longitudinal grooves on the wing covers.
  • Feeds very little as an adult
  • Active during muggy evenings
  • Gets into houses, particularly through chimneys, during mating flight
  • Larvae: Causes more damage to turf than any other type of white grub
  • Y-shaped raster and anal slit
  • Most difficult to control with nematodes

Oriental Beetle
     Adults: 1/2-inch, straw-colored with variable black markings on the thorax and wing covers
  • Feeds to limited extent on flowers
  • Adults often found floating in swimming pools
  • Larvae: Found in high-organic potting media and in other ornamental and crop plants, in addition to turf
  • Parallel raster

Japanese Beetle
     Adults: 1/2-inch, metallic green head and thorax, copper colored wing covers, tufts of white hairs around abdomen
  • Feeds extensively on foliage and flowers of hundreds of host species
  • Pheromone/floral lures are available, although effectiveness at preventing damage is debatable
  • Larvae: V-shaped raster
  • Larvae are grass specialists - not found eating the roots of the many adult host plants

White Grub Management

Cultural control
Good turf management (proper irrigation, fertilization, mowing) will result in vigorous turf with a deep, extensive root system that can tolerate relatively high grub densities. Turfgrass species that have a deeper root system and higher heat and drought tolerance are generally more tolerant of grub feeding. Among the cool-season grasses, tall fescue is the most grub-tolerant species, followed by Kentucky bluegrass, the fine fescues and perennial ryegrass. Be aware that compost and many organic fertilizers may attract egg-laying females of green June beetle and encourage higher larval densities of this species.

Watering during adult beetle activity in summer attracts egg-laying females (especially when the soil in surrounding areas is dry), and increases survival of eggs and young larvae. However, later in the summer and in fall, irrigation makes the grass more tolerant of the increasing feeding activity of the larger (and more drought-resistant) grubs.

Mechanical control
No effective mechanical grub controls are available at this time. Aeration with spikes or tines to alleviate soil compaction will kill any grubs that sustain a direct hit, but normal aeration activity will kill only a small proportion of the grubs. However, any control agents that are applied at the same time will more easily penetrate through the thatch layer, if present, and may improve the control agent’s efficacy.

Removal of adult beetles with traps has not proven to be very feasible. Japanese beetle traps attract large numbers of male and female beetles from long distances, thus increasing beetle populations in the vicinity of the traps. But only around 50 percent of the attracted beetles end up in the traps, while the remainder may start feeding on surrounding woody ornamental plants and perennials and eventually lay eggs close by. Thus the traps can actually increase problems with Japanese beetle grubs. Only if high densities of traps are used throughout a large area (e.g., a neighborhood) can this method be effective.

The same traps, but with a different lure, are available for oriental beetles. However, the traps only attract male oriental beetles (the lure contains only the sex pheromone), while the females continue to lay eggs with impunity. No data exist (yet) on reducing oriental beetle grub populations through mass-trapping of males. It appears rather unlikely that enough males (probably more than 90 percent) could be trapped out of a given area to significantly reduce the mating success of female oriental beetles.

Natural enemies
In addition to the various vertebrate natural enemies (crows, skunks, etc.) that unfortunately tend to cause turf damage when preying on white grubs, there are numerous more subtle invertebrate natural enemies. Ground beetles, rove beetles, ants and other beneficial insects prey on eggs and young grubs. Ants are probably the most effective predators of white grub eggs, as has been shown in several studies. Various parasitic wasps  and flies parasitize the older grubs or the adults was introduced for Japanese beetle control). Providing nectar sources (various flowering plants) for the adult wasps near areas with a history of white grub infestation should encourage their parasitic activity. Various naturally occurring pathogens (insect parasitic nematodes, fungi, bacteria, protozoa) kill or weaken white grubs. In the absence of regular applications of broad-spectrum insecticides, practitioners of organic lawn care should strive to preserve these beneficials and thereby decrease the number and severity of white grub outbreaks.

Milky disease
Since the commercially available strain of milky disease (Milky Spore) is ineffective against white grubs other than those of the Japanese beetle, applicators who are interested in using milky disease products should first make sure that their grubs are actually Japanese beetle grubs. (There are other, naturally present strains that infect other grub species, which explains why you may observe milky disease in grubs other than Japanese beetle grubs when sampling white grubs in the field.)

The infection process begins when spores are ingested along with soil as a white grub feeds on plant roots. The spores germinate in the grub’s midgut, and the bacteria penetrate through the midgut wall into the grub’s body cavity, where they multiply and eventually sporulate. The high concentration of spores during the final stages of infection gives the grub’s body fluid the distinctively milky-white color. When the infected grub dies, typically after several weeks or even months, several billion spores may be released into the soil from the disintegrating cadaver.

Milky Spore® is applied in a four-foot grid pattern and leaches into the root zone with irrigation and rainwater. Japanese beetle grubs feeding under those spots may become infected with the disease. When they die several weeks later, billions of new spores are released.

Under the right conditions (soil temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit for several months of the year and high larval densities), milky disease slowly spreads through an entire lawn and can suppress Japanese beetle grubs for many years.

Insect Parasitic Nematodes
The information provided here pertains specifically to the use of insect parasitic nematodes against white grubs. See the information on insect parasitic nematodes presented earlier in this chapter for general recommendations on application of nematodes (rates, adaptation of sprayers, irrigation, etc.).

Susceptibility of White Grubs to Nematodes
The efficacy of different nematode species varies with white grub species. Among the common white grub species that damage turfgrass in the Northeast, the Japanese beetle is the most susceptible to the most nematode species. Among the nematodes that are presently commercially available, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora has generally provided the best control of Japanese beetle grubs, with around 70 percent control at a rate of one billion infective juveniles per acre applied around September.

Other white grub species such as Oriental beetle, European chafer and masked chafers appear to be less susceptible to Heterorhabditis species and to Steinernema glaseri. For example, mid- September applications of H. bacteriophora against the oriental beetle have provided 0 to 50 percent control. Heterorhabditis zealandica, a species already commercially available in Australia and recently isolated in Florida, could be very effective against masked chafer and somewhat more effective than H. bacteriophora against Oriental beetle, should it become available. Another species that is not presently available, Steinernema scarabaei (discussed in more detail below), has shown exceptionally high activity against all white grub species except masked chafers.

Larval Stage and Nematode Efficacy
Laboratory studies have shown that the efficacy of H. bacteriophora declines against Japanese beetle and oriental beetle larvae as larval development proceeds. Second instars may be somewhat less susceptible than first instars, but third instars are clearly less susceptible than second instars. It has also been observed that young third instars of Oriental beetle are significantly more susceptible than older third instars. Based on larval stage alone, this would mean that H. bacteriophora should be applied while the larvae are still mostly second instars and early third instars (mid-August through early September at the latitude of New Jersey) to increase efficacy. The effectiveness of nematodes on the different larval stages, however, seems to vary with nematode species and white grub species. For example, susceptibility of Oriental beetle second instars vs. third instars was similar for both S. scarabaei and S. glaseri.

Optimal Timing for Nematode Applications
Based on optimal soil temperatures and white grub larval stage susceptibility, the best time to apply most nematode species against white grubs should be from mid-August into early September. Application after mid-September or in spring will generally be ineffective. Late summer applications will not only provide better soil temperatures and, at least for H. bacteriophora vs. Japanese beetle and Oriental beetle, more susceptible targets, but also a longer period of time for the nematodes to be active. Because nematodes are susceptible to UV radiation and extreme temperatures, it is generally recommended that they be applied either early or late in the day. Time of day is less critical on cloudy days or with high spray volumes, if treatments are quickly followed by sufficient irrigation.

Soil Type
Insect parasitic nematodes can move better through coarse
(sandy) soils than they can through fine (higher clay content) soils.  
However, in the field many other factors affect soil type, including soil compaction, organic matter, roots, tunnels of soil organisms, etc. In addition, finer soils hold soil moisture better. In a summary of dozens of field trials using Heterorhabditis bacteriophora against Japanese beetle grubs, the nematode tended to perform better in the heavier, loamy soils. Insect parasitic nematodes work best in moderately moist soil.

Soil Temperature
While optimum temperature ranges vary somewhat by species, nematodes generally work better at soil temperatures of 60 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit, with the optimum being 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. For the presently available nematode species that attack white grubs, particularly Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, that means that optimum activity against grubs can be expected from August into late September (depending on local conditions). After September and in spring, these nematodes will not be effective.

Organic Control Options Under Development As mentioned above, the nematode species Heterorhabditis zealandica, which is already commercially available in Australia, could be very effective against masked chafer and somewhat more effective than H. bacteriophora against Oriental beetle, should it become available in the United States.

The recently discovered species Steinernema scarabaei has exceptionally high activity against most white grub species (except masked chafers) and may provide several years of grub control, but it cannot be mass-produced at this time.

Mating disruption using sex pheromones deployed from waxed disks to disrupt communication between males and females has already been shown to be highly effective for Oriental beetle control in blueberries and ornamental nurseries. However, in turfgrass more persistent formulations need to be developed.
General / General Tools for Insect Management
« Last post by admin on April 29, 2011, 10:12:11 AM »
Endophyte-Enhanced Grasses
Endophytes are seed-borne fungi present in tall fescue, fine-leaf fescue and perennial ryegrass that supply defensive compounds, known as alkaloids. Alkaloids are toxic to many insects and other animals. They kill insects that ingest them, or discourage further feeding. To reduce damage from chinch bugs, bluegrass billbugs and webworms, overseed with endophyte-enhanced grasses (25 to 30 percent of the mix).

A note of caution about endoyphytic grasses: Do not use these grasses in areas that will be grazed by animals you care about, including domestic animals such as sheep, cows, goats and pet rabbits, and also wild animals such as deer, rabbits, geese and ducks. The seeds also contain the toxic alkaloids, so seed eaters such as birds, mice and voles are also strongly affected.

If more than 60 percent of a seed lot contains endophytes, the seed is classified as high-endophyte turfgrass seed. Be certain the seeds you purchase are fresh. The endophytes lying dormant within the seed cannot endure more than 15 months of storage. Each bag should be marked with a date.

Excessive thatch provides good habitat for insect pests. When there is a thatch layer greater than 1/2-inch deep, insect pests that feed aboveground, such as chinch bugs, sod webworms, armyworms, cutworms and billbugs, become a much larger problem.

Remove thatch by raking, vertical mowing or topdressing with compost or compost tea to help soil organisms break down thatch naturally. Excessive thatch points to a problem in fertility management and usually means a lawn is being given an excess of nitrogen. (See the section on cultural practices for more about removing thatch.)

Conservation of Predators
Natural predators are one of your biggest allies in controlling insect pests. Spiders, ants, ground beetles, rove beetles and big-eyed bugs are all carnivorous and eat harmful insects, keeping their populations in check.

Avoid applying broad-spectrum insecticides (organic or conventional), which will wipe out the predators as well as the pests. Wherever possible, choose insecticides that are specifically targeted at the pest of concern. For example, products based on Bacillus thuringiensis are a good choice to control caterpillar pests because they are essentially non-toxic to beneficial insects. Conserve® (spinosad) is also relatively low in toxicity to beneficial insects. Use of pyrethrum is illegal on Massachusetts school grounds and synthetic pyrethroids are not acceptable in organic land care.

To encourage natural predators, mow high; at least three inches. Taller grass offers better habitat for predators than a closely cropped lawn.

Insect Parasitic Nematodes
Insect parasitic nematodes, are microscopic worms that live in the soil and attack insect larvae. They occur naturally in soils around the world, with about 50 known species belonging to the genera Heterorhabditis and Steinernema, and many more awaiting description and isolation. Under the right conditions, nematodes not only infect and kill hosts after an application but will also reproduce in these hosts to produce new generations that can kill additional hosts.

All known insect parasitic nematode species have a similar life cycle. The only stage that can survive outside of an insect is the infective juvenile stage. These free-living, non-feeding infective juveniles seek out a host and penetrate it through natural openings or thin parts of the cuticle. Once inside the host?s body, the juvenile nematodes release the symbiotic bacterium that they carry around in their intestines, and bacteria and nematodes cooperate to overcome the host?s immune response and kill the host, typically in one to four days. The bacteria propagate and protect the cadaver from colonization by other microorganisms. The host cadaver assumes a characteristic coloration (often yellow or red, depending on the species of nematode and symbiotic bacterium). The nematodes develop through one to three stages, feeding on the bacteria and host tissues metabolized by the bacteria. Depletion of food resources in the host cadaver leads to the development of infective juveniles that emerge from the host cadaver in search of a new host.

A few species of insect parasitic nematodes are commercially available as biological control agents. They are exempt from EPA registration because they are unlikely to harm people, pets or wildlife. Because they are living organisms, nematodes require careful handling and storage under cool and dry conditions (or refrigeration), and their effectiveness is considerably improved by selecting the most appropriate species for the target pest.

The commercially available nematode species Steinernema carpocapsae is most effective against aboveground feeders in turf, such as sod webworms, cutworms, armyworms and the early stages of billbugs. Other species, including Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, are more effective against white grubs. More specific information on the use of nematodes against white grubs is given on Page 59. A list of suppliers of insect parasitic nematodes is available online at:

Here are general guidelines for applying insect parasitic nematodes. Apply the nematodes on a warm sunny day, either early in the morning or at dusk, at a rate of 1 billion per acre (23 million per 1,000 square feet). Nematodes should not be applied to hot, dry soil. Irrigate before application if needed. If you are applying nematodes as a spray, use two to five gallons of water per 1,000 square feet of area to be treated. Keep the mixture agitated in the spray tank and remove sprayer screens to prevent clogging (and damage to the nematodes). Immediately after spraying, wash the nematodes into the root zone with 1/4- to one inch of irrigation, and keep the soil moderately moist for at least one week, two to three weeks would be better.

Microbial Products
There are several types of microbial insecticides.  
The most widely used are products derived from strains of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The active ingredients in these insecticides are proteins produced by the bacteria, and they act by interfering with the insect?s digestion, so the insecticide must be eaten by the target insect to be effective. The strains of Bt that affect caterpillars (Bt kurstaki and Bt aizawai) are very effective against sod webworms, cutworms and armyworms. (There are other strains used against other groups of insect pests.) Bt breaks down very quickly in sunlight and has very little effect on non-target organisms, with the exception of other species of moths and butterflies.

Another microbial product that has been used for many decades is derived from the bacterium Paenibacillus popilliae. This is the bacterium that causes milky disease in white grubs, and is better known by the trade name of Milky Spore® (St. Gabriel Laboratories).

Many different species of white grubs are affected by milky disease; however, each is susceptible to a different strain of the bacterium that is more or less specific to that grub species. The milky disease spores naturalize in the soil, where they remain viable for many years. Milky Spore® (the only strain that is still commercially available) is effective only against Japanese beetle grubs. Unlike commercial formulations of Bt, Milky Spore® contains viable spores of a bacterium that can infect the target host, causing disease and potentially spreading and persisting in the area. (More details about using Milky Spore® against Japanese beetle grubs are given on page 59).

Spinosad, a product containing soil microbes called actinomycetes, is commercially available for lawns and ornamental plants under the name Conserve®. Spinosad is very effective against caterpillar pests, and also has activity against some species of thrips, flies and beetles (but not beetles that damage turf, such as white grubs and billbugs). It acts as a neurotoxin in insects that have eaten the toxin or come into direct contact with the insecticide before it dries. Spinosad is a broader spectrum insecticide than Bt. Direct spraying of beneficial insects should be avoided, but Spinosad has little effect on beneficial insects once the spray has dried. It has low toxicity to most vertebrate wildlife and to humans, but is toxic to aquatic invertebrates.

Other microbial insecticides are based on the fungi Beauveria bassiana (commercially available as Naturalis® or Mycotrol®). These products contain live fungal spores that attach to the insect and infect it. Because these insecticides are living organisms, the specific conditions of storage, handling and application, and the environment at the time of application can have an impact on the effectiveness of the insecticide. Research is needed to firmly establish how effective these materials are on specific insect hosts.

Insecticidal Soaps
Soap that is specially formulated to kill insects can be effective against soft-bodied insects such as aphids and caterpillars. It works by smothering insects and breaking down the protective layer on the outside of their bodies, so it must make physical contact with the target insect in order to be effective.

Insecticidal soap works best when applied in water that is not hard. In hard water, calcium, magnesium and iron precipitate the fatty acids and render them useless against the insects. It is also important to use the purest water possible. Conduct a “jar test” to determine if your water is compatible with the soap. Mix the soap concentrate with water in a glass jar and allow to stand 15 minutes. If the mix remains uniform and milky, then your water quality is adequate. If a scum develops on the surface of the water, then conditioning of the water will be necessary. The water can be conditioned with a commercially available non-ionic buffering and conditioning agent. You can use rain water, distilled water or clean dehumidifier water.  Insecticidal soap is also more effective when it dries slowly, so it is best to apply it at dusk, particularly on hot, dry days.

Botanical Insecticides
There are several classes of botanical insecticides. The botanical insecticides with the fewest negative effects are those based on neem (using the seeds of a tropical tree). The active ingredients in these insecticides are azadirachtin and/or neem oil, and they work by interfering with insect molting and oviposition, and also by deterring feeding. Because of their effect on molting, neem insecticides are most effective when used against the immature stages of insect pests. Neem has very low toxicity to humans and wildlife (neem extracts are even used in soap and toothpaste for human use), but can harm beneficial insects, particularly in the immature stages.

The effectiveness of neem products varies among different products due to differences in extraction and formulation. A recent survey of tests of neem in agricultural systems (Caldwell et al, 2005) found that the products Agroneem®, Ecozin® and Bioneem® had little effect on pests, while other products such as Align®, Amvac Aza®, AZA-Direct®, Azatin®, Fortune Aza®, Meem Azal® and Neemix® were effective against such pests as armyworms and aphids.

Pyrethrum is another botanical insecticide. It is made using the flower heads of certain species of daisies grown in Africa and Australia. Pyrethrum is a broad-spectrum insect neurotoxin that paralyzes insects on contact. It kills a wide variety of insects but is allergenic and neurotoxic to humans, especially when inhaled, and is toxic to wildlife, particularly fish. Pyrethrum is not allowed on Massachusetts school grounds because it is a carcinogen and should not be used on Connecticut school grounds.

Cultural control / Introduction to Cultural Control
« Last post by admin on April 28, 2011, 05:20:27 PM »
Proper watering prevents weed germination and slows weed growth. Lawns and turf need one inch of water per week, and rainfall often meets that need. Use a rain gauge, a small bucket or a coffee can to measure rainfall. If watering is necessary, check the client?s irrigation system to make sure automatic sprinklers are set to water heavily once a week, not lightly every day. Light watering promotes shallow root growth and weak turf.

Mow high, 3 to 3-1/2 inches if possible. Taller grass shades out weeds and keeps moisture in the soil. To reduce grass stress, remove no more than one-third of the grass blade when mowing. Keep the mower blade sharp. Clean the mower blade between jobs to avoid transferring weed seeds to other properties. For athletic fields, try to find periods of time between games or in the off season when the grass can be allowed to grow to 3 inches.

Soil Adjustments
The chapter on soil health, fertility and amendments extensively covers methods to optimize soil for growing turfgrass.  
Healthy soil enables turfgrass to out-compete weeds so that, over time, grass replaces weeds.

Weed Lifecycles
Another key to weed control is timing. Careful observation of weed populations and weed seedling emergence patterns will help the lawn care professional develop an appropriate weed control program.

Corn gluten can be used as a pre-emergent. It is applied to a lawn in the spring between forsythia and lilac bloom to help prevent germination of crabgrass and other annual weeds. It also prevents turfgrass from germinating, so do not seed on top of corn gluten. If necessary, you can apply two inches of compost over corn gluten and then seed.

Corn gluten is high in protein and contains about 10 percent nitrogen. Because corn gluten is high in nitrogen, be sure to reduce subsequent fertilizer applications accordingly. High nitrogen conditions can harm some grasses such as fine fescues, promote certain fungal diseases and increase insect and herbivore damage.

Careful mechanical cultivation (for dense weed infestations) or hand pulling (for minor weed problems) during periods of active growth also prevents the formation of large weed populations. Regularly inspect a lawn or field to determine what weeds are growing where and when they appear.

Annual weeds grow, flower and produce seed in a single season and will die at the end of the season. For this reason, it is easier to start a new lawn in the fall, when the weather is cool, annual weeds are dying and the cool season turf grasses can start with little or no competition.

Spot Control
For lawns or turf with weed issues, use organic methods that fit the problem. Hand-pick or selectively remove weeds for sparse or small infestations. For larger areas, weeding can be accomplished using a liquid organic herbicide (they typically contain acetic acid, clove oil and/or citric acid), a hot foam sprayer or a weed burner. These methods work by immediately killing the aboveground portion of the weed; they will also kill any grass or other plant they come in contact with. Mechanical cultivation (rake, hoe or rototiller) is also an option. Seed immediately following spot control so turf grass can fill the space left by the weeds. Often, certain types of weeds will take over a particular area of a lawn or turf and can be managed once or twice a year with soil amendments to correct the soil imbalance found in that particular area.
Soil conditions and weeds / Soil Conditions and the Weeds They Favor
« Last post by admin on April 28, 2011, 05:09:28 PM »
Different plants thrive in different soil conditions, and in fact, the presence of a plant in a given location can tell you about the soil conditions there. Here are some general soil conditions and the plants that thrive in them.

The following information is excerpted and reprinted in part from
Turfgrass by Timothy M. Abbey, published by the University of Connecticut, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2001.

Wet, Poorly Drained Soil
   Algae, annual bluegrass, nutsedge, plantains, rushes, sedges, smartweeds

Droughty, Extremely Dry Soil
   Birdsfoot trefoil, cinquefoils, crabgrass, quackgrass, rabbit foot clover, yarrow

Low Soil pH
   Moss, rabbit foot clover, red sorrel, wild strawberry

Low Soil Fertility
   Cinquefoils, common mullein, mallow, moss, wild carrot

Low Nitrogen
   Chickweed, clovers, trefoil, vetches

Compacted Soil
   Ajuga, annual bluegrass, broadleaf plantain, moss, chickweeds, crabgrass, ground ivy, pineapple weed, prostrate knotweed

Mowing Height Too Low
   Annual bluegrass, chickweeds, common purslane, crabgrass, creeping bentgrass, dandelion, ground ivy, moss

   Chickweeds, moss, violets, ground ivy
Common weeds / Introduction to Common Weeds
« Last post by admin on April 27, 2011, 06:14:15 PM »

Color photographs of the weeds described here can be found in Weeds of the Northeast by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph N. 
DiTomaso, Cornell University Press, 1997.

Ajuga or Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) Description: Perennial; glossy green leaves arranged in tight rosettes; bluish-violet flowers in spring; spreads quickly by runners. Where it grows/what it likes: 
Shady areas. Beneficial uses: Great groundcover; attracts bumblebees; showy flowers and colorful leaves can be assets in an informal lawn. Control methods: Aerate soil to reduce compaction; add organic matter to soil; mow flower heads.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) Description: Annual; seeds germinate in early spring and late summer; slender, tender prostrate stems with numerous branches; leaves are opposite and about 1/2-inch long; small white flowers with five deeply notched petals; shallow fibrous root system. Where it grows/what it likes: Acidic, compacted, tight soil; prefers shade. Beneficial uses: Helps soil retain nitrogen; many varieties of birds like to eat it; high in vitamins; can be used to treat internal inflammation. Control methods: Boost organic matter in soil; maintain a thick, vigorous lawn; when weeding, remove plants from site completely as they tend to re-root themselves.

Clover (Trifolium repens) Description: Perennial; creeps to form patches in lawns; fibrous root system; dark green ovalshaped leaves with white crescent-shaped markings. Where it grows/what it likes: Sunny spots that are low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus; moist, low fertility soils. Beneficial uses: Helps fix nitrogen and make it available to other plants. Control methods: Add nitrogen to the soil and decrease phosphorus; mow high; mow flower heads.

Crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) Description: Annual; germinates in late spring and becomes a pest in mid- to late summer; reproduces by seed; leaf blades are flat and 1/4- to 1/2- inch wide with sheaths that have long stiff hairs. Where it grows/what it likes: Compacted soil; thrives in hot weather when cool-season turf grasses are dormant; often found along driveways, sidewalks or in pavement cracks; usually means soil is low in calcium. Beneficial uses: Common heat-loving grass used as a lawn grass in warm climates like Florida; good forage food for ruminant livestock (such as cows). Control methods: In early spring, aerate bare patches to reduce compaction, topdress with compost and liberally apply grass seed; use corn gluten meal in early spring when forsythias bloom; you can reduce crabgrass by 50 percent just by cutting the lawn at 3-1/2 to four inches during the month of peak crabgrass germination (for six to eight weeks beginning when forsythias start dropping their blooms).

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Description: Broadleaf perennial; seedlings have oval cotyledons with smooth surfaces; leaves exude a milky juice when cut; yellow ray flowers form dense heads; each head produces many plumed seeds that are readily dispersed by wind. Where it grows/what it likes: Moist weather and acidic soil; usually means the lawn is being mowed too low; can be a symptom of lack of calcium in the soil. Beneficial uses: Edible; sheep and cattle like to eat it; attracts beneficial ladybugs; the long roots aerate the soil and enable the plant to accumulate minerals, which enhance the soil when the plant dies. Control methods: Mow high, avoid overwatering and hand weed beginning in spring and continuing until new growth stops (when temperatures drop to 42 degrees Fahrenheit); raising calcium levels will help turfgrasses better compete with dandelions.

Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) Description: Creeping perennial; round to kidney- shaped leaves with toothed, rounded edges; spreads quickly by long, creeping shoots called runners. Where it grows/what it likes: Moist soil, thrives in shady, compacted areas. Beneficial uses: Historically used as a curative tea. Control methods: Fertilize in fall, regularly overseed, mow high and add organic matter to the soil; aerate to reduce compaction. The University of Minnesota suggests using borax to control creeping Charlie because the weed is more sensitive to boron than grass is. Dissolve 10 ounces of Twenty Mule Team Borax in 1/2-cup of warm water (or in enough water so it actually dissolves). Dilute this solution with enough water to total 2- 1/2 gallons. Spray the mixture evenly over 1,000 square feet of lawn. (Test a small patch of lawn first.)

Moss (many species) Description: Soft, ground-hugging plants lacking water-conducting tissues and roots. Where it grows/what it likes: Shady areas where the soil is acidic, moist, heavily compacted and infertile; can grow in areas heavily treated with limestone if there is deep shade and the soil is very moist. Beneficial uses: Beautiful groundcover. If grass won?t grow where moss is, let it flourish and enjoy it. Control methods: Test soil to determine acidity and nutrient levels, add proper amendments, reduce compaction, fertilize properly and aerate soil; provide enough sunlight for turf grasses to outgrow moss, perhaps by pruning trees or other vegetation that shades the soil where moss flourishes; rake moss away with an iron rake, and reseed; do not overwater.

Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major) Description: Perennial; smooth, oval leaf blades two to six inches in length; leaf veins converge at the base into a broad leaf stem; fibrous root system; germination increases as temperature increases. Where it grows/what it likes compacted soil, moist areas. Beneficial uses: Helps to maintain lawn fertility; leaves are commonly used as medicinal poultice to treat poison ivy and insect bites. Control methods: Aerate soil to alleviate compaction; avoid overwatering; hand weed young plants; pop off seed heads in summer; add organic matter to the soil to enhance soil health.

Wild Violets (Viola papilionacea) Description: Perennial; heart-shaped, waxy leaves; fibrous root system; spreads aggressively by branching rhizomes and seed. Where it grows/what it likes: Shady spots and moist, fertile soils; often spreads from woody areas into newly established lawns. Beneficial uses: Flowers edible; pretty purple and/or white flowers add color to a lawn in spring. Control methods: Hand pull small clumps, being sure to remove roots; reduce shade; allow soil to dry out.
Environmental considerations / Introduction to Environmental Considerations
« Last post by admin on April 27, 2011, 02:07:20 PM »
Nitrogen and phosphorus are both major water pollutants. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that is highly soluble and can leach readily into water. Regardless of the form of nitrogen applied, it will be converted to nitrate by soil bacteria unless the soil is fairly acid. Nitrate is the form of nitrogen used most by plants, except those that thrive in acid soil. We must be careful to avoid excess nitrate levels because nitrate can contaminate drinking water and it is a health hazard. The best way to avoid such problems is to use nitrogen moderately. High levels of soil organic matter and/or nitrogen-containing fertilizers pose a threat to water quality. If the soil organic matter is above five percent there is an increased risk of leaching. Nitrate levels are normally at their highest during midsummer, when bacteria are rapidly decomposing soil organic matter. Nitrate levels can be checked by having the soil tested during midsummer. Levels above 30 to 40 ppm are generally not beneficial to plants and increase the threat to water. High nitrogen run-off is particularly harmful near salt water such as oceans or bays, where it can cause excess algae and seaweed growth.

Phosphorus in soil and in natural organic fertilizers is highly insoluble, and does not normally leach. However, it can move from lawns to water bodies as a result of erosion or misapplication. High phosphorous in fresh water bodies can lead to excess algae and aquatic plant growth, which can harm aquatic life, infest ponds and lead to the application of aquatic herbicides.

Be careful to have appropriate buffer zones adjacent to streams and other bodies of water, with appropriate vegetation to prevent erosion and to filter out pollutants before they reach the water. Also be careful to clean up any fertilizer from pavement or other impervious surfaces to keep it from washing down storm drains and into waterways.
Minerals / Introduction to Minerals
« Last post by admin on April 27, 2011, 02:01:24 PM »

Lime and Gypsum: pH, calcium and magnesium Lime is used to raise the soil pH (reduce acidity). It also supplies calcium (Ca). Gypsum (calcium sulfate dihydrate) is used to raise Ca levels.

There are two types of readily available limestone for raising soil
pH: calcitic (high-calcium) limestone and dolomitic limestone. 
Dolomitic limestone contains approximately 28 percent magnesium carbonate and approximately 35 percent calcium carbonate. Calcitic limestone contains no magnesium (Mg). Both of these products will elevate soil pH; however, they will affect the percent base saturation in the soil very differently. If dolomitic limestone is used continually, magnesium can accumulate to the point where it suppresses calcium levels in the soil.

Classic symptoms of calcium deficiency include necrosis around the base of the leaves and soft dead necrotic tissue at rapidly growing areas. Plants under chronic calcium deficiency have a much greater tendency to wilt than non-stressed plants.

If calcium or potassium is oversupplied and magnesium is deficient, turf can become chlorotic and appear yellowish green because it is unable to produce chlorophyll.

When using lime, it is important to know the calcium/magnesium ratio in the soil in order to choose the correct liming agent. This ratio can be calculated by dividing the exchangeable value (the amount that is free to move in the soil; the value returned by a soil test) of calcium by the exchangeable value of magnesium. For example, if the exchangeable value of calcium is 1,500 ppm and the exchangeable value of magnesium is 200 ppm, the calcium/magnesium ratio is 1,500/200 = 7.5. If the calcium/magnesium ratio is lower than 6, then calcitic lime (calcium carbonate) should be used. If the ratio is between 7 and 10 and magnesium is ranked lower than calcium on the soil test, dolomitic lime (calcium/magnesium carbonate) is preferred.

Many soil tests report the percent base saturation, which makes calculating the ratio of calcium to magnesium unnecessary. If percent base saturation is provided, the magnesium should be between 5 and 15 percent, and the calcium should be between 60 and 85 percent. If calcium is below this range, use calcitic lime, and if magnesium is needed, use dolomite. If they are both in the proper range, use either type and alternate with the other in succession. Ca and Mg do not need to be precisely within these ranges, but you should try to move toward the proper levels when using lime. If calcitic lime is not available, gypsum can be used to increase Ca levels. Gypsum does not affect soil pH and is more expensive than ground limestone.

Many people use pelletized lime on lawns. Pelletized lime consists of very finely ground limestone that is formed into pellets using a binder. Upon contact with moisture in the soil, the pellets disintegrate and the fine lime particles dissolve readily and provide for a rapid rise in pH. The pH increase is shorter lived than that produced by regular ground lime, which contains some larger particles that last longer. Pelletized lime is more expensive than ground limestone but is easier to apply and does not create a lot of dust.

Do not apply more than 50 pounds of ground limestone per 1000 square feet at one time, even if more than 50 pounds per 1000 square feet is called for. Apply pelletized lime at about half the rate of ground limestone, but apply it more often. Do not apply during hot or dry times of the season. Measure the pH a month or two after the first application to get an idea of its effect. Additional applications can be made in spring and fall until the desired pH is achieved. Keep in mind that lime does not move rapidly down into the soil, so the pH near the surface will be higher than it is a few inches below. Over time, the lime will move lower. If large applications are made, the difference between surface and sub-surface pH will be magnified. 
Therefore, small but frequent applications are suggested.

Nitrogen Nitrogen (N) is used in large amounts by plants and is especially important in keeping a lawn green. There are several forms of N in the soil. As organic materials decompose, N is released in the form of ammonium (NH3). Unless the soil is quite acid, bacteria convert ammonium to nitrite and then to nitrate (NO3). Nitrate-N is the form primarily used by most plants, including grass. However, it is also very soluble and subject to leaching (see ?Environmental Considerations? on the next page).

Soil tests taken in late fall, winter or early spring usually show a low N level. As the soil warms in late spring and summer, microbes break down organic matter and release N. For this reason, a standard soil test is not a reliable indicator of N availability in the soil, and many soil labs do not measure N in a standard test. Under most conditions, if a soil contains around 5 percent organic matter, there should be enough N. Many soil labs will perform a special nitrate-N test in the summer. This is a good way to determine if indeed there is enough N being released from organic matter.

Compost is an excellent source of slow release N. Blood meal (dried blood from animal processing) and some plant meals are also good sources. White clover can be seeded into the lawn or included when establishing a new one. The clover is a legume, a plant that uses bacteria in its root nodules to take N from the atmosphere and make it available to plants. Be sure to inoculate the seed with the proper bacteria. Some people like clover in a lawn; others do not.

Phosphorous Phosphorous (P) is essential for many plant functions and is noted for its importance in root growth and development. It is needed in fairly high amounts, although in smaller amounts than nitrogen and potassium. Most of the P in soils exists in chemical compounds that are rather insoluble. Only a small portion is soluble and readily available to plants. If the soil is acid, less P is available because even more of it is insoluble. Even if relatively soluble forms of P are added, most becomes insoluble. Because of its insolubility, P does not move readily down from the surface. Thus, it can take quite a while to increase P levels in the root zone of established turf. When establishing a new lawn, P should be added according to soil test and incorporated into the top few inches of the soil.

There are a few materials that can supply P. Rock phosphate is a ground up mineral that is mined. It has a fairly low amount of available P and what there is is made available slowly. It can be useful when constructing a new lawn and should be thought of as part of a long-term plan. Bone meal provides P fairly rapidly. In this respect it is similar to synthetic P fertilizers. The down side of bone meal is that it is relatively expensive. Compost is a good source of P. It releases P more slowly than bone meal, but considerably faster than rock phosphate. Leaving grass clippings on the lawn recycles phosphorus and can eliminate the need for specific phosphorus supplements.

Potassium Potassium (K) is required in large amounts by plants. It is important in regulating water movement within the plant. If K is in good supply, turf will have an improved ability to withstand drought. 
K is moderately resistant to leaching, unless the soil is sandy and contains little organic matter.

K can be supplied using potassium sulfate. This is an allowed product for organic lawn and turf care if it is mined and not synthesized. Potassium sulfate supplies K rapidly and is moderate in price. It also supplies sulfur. Sul-po-mag is a product that contains sulfur, potassium and magnesium and is useful if magnesium is also needed. 
Compost will also supply K, as will grass clippings. When K is applied to the soil surface, it will move down into the root zone at a reasonable pace, provided there is adequate water.

Micronutrients It is not usually necessary to apply micronutrients. 
Amendments such as compost should contain a reasonable supply. If soil pH is above 7.0, there is an increased chance of a micronutrient deficiency because most micronutrients are increasingly unavailable at high pH?s. Sandy soils with little organic matter may show certain micronutrient deficiencies. In such cases, it may be wise to keep the soil pH in the low sixes, at least until soil organic matter is in the desirable range. Excessive P can combine with iron or zinc, making them less available. This is another reason to avoid excess P.
Plant Nutrients / Introduction to Plant Nutrients
« Last post by admin on April 27, 2011, 01:53:09 PM »

Plant Nutrients Macronutrients are essential elements required in large quantities by all higher plants and include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Micronutrients, including elements such as iron, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum and boron, are also called trace elements, because a plant only needs these nutrients in small quantities. Micronutrients are found in numerous plant hormones and enzymes and in compost, and are vital to plant health.

Nitrogen All grass requires nitrogen to build plant proteins (such as chlorophyll) and to grow. Nitrogen is available in two forms: quick-release water soluble  and slow-release water insoluble.

Water-soluble nitrogen is immediately available to the plant and causes a rapid growth spurt. It can be taken up directly by the plant, bypassing the natural digestive process of the plant/soil system, which provides nitrogen through the action of soil organisms. It is also used up quickly and is easily washed into ground and surface water, causing nitrogen contamination as well as excessive aquatic plant growth and algae blooms. Soluble nitrogen sources include urea, ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate and ammonium phosphate as well as some organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion. They tend to be less expensive per pound than slow-release fertilizers.

Slow-release fertilizers include natural organics, as well as synthetic or coated nitrogen materials. The release of nitrogen in organic materials is due to the activity of soil biology, such as microbial decomposition. Since the activity of microorganisms is dependent on soil temperature and moisture, nitrogen availability in slow-release fertilizers will vary with the time of the year and weather, but can continue for up to a year.

NOFA organic standards for nitrogen amendments prefer slow-release organic compounds such as compost, organic fertilizers, compost teas and lawn clippings. The standards prohibit synthetically derived nitrogen sources such as nitrates, urea and ammonia, as well as Chilean nitrate, leather meal and sewage sludge.

Under organic soil management, much of the nitrogen is provided in the form of complex organic compounds that soil organisms break down and deliver to the plant. If soluble inorganic nitrogen fertilizer (such as sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate or ammonium
phosphate) is used exclusively, it will suppress the soil?s natural biological activity and sacrifice the benefits of a healthy soil foodweb. When you use soluble nitrogen fertilizers, the grass experiences both feast and famine. When nitrogen is plentiful, leaf growth increases and root growth decreases. When nitrogen is depleted, leaf growth decreases and root growth increases. When the next round of soluble nitrogen fertilizer is applied, there is a sudden burst of leaf growth. Leaf blades will be more succulent and contain a higher concentration of free amino acids, which attract grass-eating insects and make the grass more susceptible to disease organisms. Water use also increases and the grass wilts more easily under hot, dry conditions.

With soluble nitrogen fertilizers, it is difficult to regulate the amount of nitrogen delivered to the plant. By contrast, when organic fertilizer is added to an intact soil foodweb, nitrogen is released in a more uniform, naturally regulated way. An additional benefit of organic fertilizer is that little of its nitrogen is lost through leaching, volatilization or denitrification.

Organic lawn and turf care applies organic fertilizers to an intact, healthy soil foodweb to deliver a sustained and regulated supply of nitrogen.

Phosphorus Phosphorus is an essential part of a plant?s genetic material and a large component of its energy transport mechanism. 
Through the overuse of fertilizers, it is also the cause of degraded water quality in most of our inland rural and suburban communities. If clippings are left on a lawn, very little (if any) phosphorus is required on an annual basis.

Most soils contain adequate levels of phosphorus; however, if the soil pH is lower than 6 or greater than 8, phosphorus will be tightly bound to soil particles, making it all but inaccessible to plants. 
Furthermore, when soluble phosphate is applied to biologically degraded soil, what the plant cannot use immediately is quickly fixed to soil particles and becomes unavailable. On the other hand, when a less soluble form of phosphate (such as phosphate rock) is applied to biologically active soil, the soil organisms slowly release the phosphate over a long period of time. As a result, phosphate need only be applied every five years, or even less frequently for optimum grass growth. Follow soil test recommendations for phosphorus fertilization.

Compost also contains a small amount of organically bound phosphorus (less than one percent), but the rate of application usually makes up for the low concentration. This phosphorus is released slowly in synchrony with the growth of the grass. Unless phosphorus tests at ?medium? or below, use organic fertilizers that contain less phosphorus than nitrogen. Depending on the starting materials, many composts are also high in phosphorus, so be aware of the nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium test results for your compost.

Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium Potassium is found in a plant?s fluids and is primarily involved in maintenance of its turgidity, or hydraulic pressure, and in the transport of materials throughout its vascular system. Adequate potassium levels make the grass more resistant to wilting and also increases winter hardiness.

The form of potassium available to plants occurs in nature as a positively charged element, or cation (designated K+). Mineral soil may contain large amounts of potassium, but it is usually in an insoluble and unavailable form. Available K+ is highly soluble and is easily leached out of welldrained soils unless the soil contains negatively charged particles that hold cations. Stable humus created by soil organisms is an ideal carrier of potassium. Humus has many negatively charged sites that hold available potassium for plant use. 
Building stable humus in the soil requires regular application of organic matter.

The availability of potassium and the pH of the soil are closely linked. Humus found in a soil with a neutral pH, which is optimum for turf, can hold large amounts of potassium. Biological activity around the roots lowers the pH, which releases the potassium and makes it available to the plant. Calcium is an essential component of cell membranes; it helps to maintain the structure of cell walls. It is also a component of messenger molecules that allow the plant to respond appropriately to environmental cues and challenges.

Magnesium is the core element in chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants. In chlorophyll, the central magnesium ion is bonded to a large organic molecule composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. 
This molecule is responsible for converting the energy of sunlight into chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, the energy absorbed by chlorophyll transforms carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen. This is one of the most important molecules for life on earth.

Like potassium, calcium and magnesium are cations, and their accessible form is dissolved in the water found in the pore spaces in soil. Calcium and magnesium compete with potassium for binding sites on negatively charged particles in the soil. Excess potassium will displace magnesium and may cause a magnesium deficiency. A good ratio of calcium, magnesium and potassium is 70:11:3, but some deviation is not harmful. An excess of magnesium may reduce stress tolerance, increase disease susceptibility and attract insect pests.

It is important to determine what the ratio of potassium, calcium and magnesium is with a soil test so that the correct kind and amount of soil amendment can be applied. There are many forms of calcium and magnesium amendments: calcium sulfate (gypsum), calcium oxide (burned or quick lime), calcium carbonate (crushed limestone), tricalcium phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, calcium nitrate (nitric acid), calcium/magnesium carbonate (dolomitic lime), magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), potassium/magnesium sulfate and magnesium oxide. The kind and amount of amendment will depend on the results of the soil test, including the pH. If the pH does not have to be adjusted, a neutral amendment like calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate or potassium/magnesium sulfate can be used.

The release of calcium and magnesium after liming is more effective and better regulated when applied to a biologically active soil. Regular applications of organic material will also increase the ability of the soil to retain and exchange cations.
Equipment / Introduction to Equipment
« Last post by admin on April 27, 2011, 12:13:07 PM »

This forum is a great opportunity for you to share your experiences and tips about equipment with your colleagues.

Equipment Listed here are several pieces of equipment that our organic land care professionals have found useful. This list is neither complete nor an endorsement of any product or company.

Aerators Mechanical aeration can be accomplished by several different methods and pieces of equipment. They include a core aerator, which pulls plugs and deposits them on the surface; a slice (or slit) seeder, which cuts slits in the soil as it deposits seed; a Seed-a-Vator, which shatters the soil while seeding; and an air spade, which creates holes in the soil.

Aerator; Slice Seeder Makes: Lesco,; Ryan,; Z-PLUG, L.T. Rich,

Air Spade Makes: Kaeser,; Concept Engineering, Seed-a-Vator Makes: First Products,

Blowers Makes: Finn,

Compost spreaders Manure spreaders Makes: Dakota Peat & Equipment, Walk behind, rotary, with large holes Makes:  
Spyker,; Big Foot, PSB Company, Compost spreader Makes: Agresource,

Compost tea sprayers Compost tea sprayers are modified agricultural sprayers. Makes: C&S Turf Care Equipment,; Precision Turf Technologies,; Fimco,; Newton Crouch,; Spraying Systems, Co.,

Topdresser Makes: Toro,

Weed Killers, hot oil/foam Makes: Waipuna,

Turf equipment in general (Spreaders, rollers, power rakes, aerators, sod cutters, seeders, mowers, dethatchers, sod lifters, vacuums, tillers, landscape rakes, mini-skids, skid steers, slice seeders, renovators, etc.) Makes: Ryan,; Jacobsen,; First Products

Other General Equipment Suppliers Oesco, Inc, A.M. Leonard, Forestry Suppliers, L.T. Rich, Co., Turf Champs,
Athletic turf / Introduction to Athletic Turf
« Last post by admin on April 27, 2011, 12:08:04 PM »
Introduction to Athletic Turf

When it comes to selecting seed for athletic turf there are advantages and disadvantages to each seed type. As a general rule for athletic turf, use a blend of perennial ryes and bluegrasses in your overseeding mix. There are two basic blends that you can use, depending on the condition of each field, the season of the year, and budget concerns. You must take into account the growth characteristics and performance of the grass, as well as seasonal temperatures and available moisture. Let’s look briefly at the two grasses and what they have to offer.

Bluegrass spreads by means of rhizomes, which is an advantage to us because it competes with weeds as it thickens. It has excellent recuperative potential, which is the ability to rebound from damage or normal wear and tear. It has average wear tolerance, but that is offset by its rhizomatous nature. Bluegrass mixes well with other grasses and exhibits good drought, heat and cold tolerance. It can be successfully mown at three inches, the optimum pH is 6.5 to 7.0, it requires two to six pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, and it has a germination time of roughly 21 days.

Perennial ryegrass increases in size by means of tillers and is more of a clump-forming grass. It has excellent wear tolerance and fair to good recuperative potential. It also mixes well with other grasses and has good drought and heat tolerance, but it can sometimes suffer winter damage due to its poor tolerance of heavy icing conditions. 
Perennial ryegrass can be mown at three inches, the optimum pH is 6.5 to 7.0, and its nutritional needs are similar to those of bluegrass (two to five pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet).

One distinct advantage of perennial ryegrass is that most of the newer cultivars have naturally occurring fungi growing within them (endophytes). The grass plant and fungi live in a symbiotic relationship. The turfgrass supplies carbohydrates to the fungi, which in return give the grass alkaloids and other chemicals that have a beneficial and protective effect on the grass. These alkaloids have been shown to act as an insecticide, controlling several surface-grazing insects. (The fungi live in the veins of the sheath and are not found in the root.)

Recent studies have shown that the grass with endophytes may receive other benefits such as some disease resistance, drought resistance and a growth retarding effect on surrounding plants. This growth retarding effect may be a valuable tool for the turf manager to consider in the future. Note that the alkaloids in endophytic grasses are toxic to grazing animals such as horses and cows.
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