2014 Turf and Landscape Field Day a Success

On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 the Purdue Turf Program, the Purdue Green Industry Working Group and the Midwest Regional Turf Foundation successfully hosted the Turf and Landscape Field Day. Jackets were needed at this year’s field day as the high temperature was 69 °F which is the coolest field day on record!
The Turf and Landscape Field Day is Indiana’s largest Green Industry field day. This was the second year with landscape research tours added. Specialists from five different departments in the College of Agriculture shared with Green Industry professionals their research findings, recommendations, as well as advice on troubleshooting problems.

It was a great opportunity for those attending to receive education, research updates, product updates and also a great opportunity to network with their colleagues and exhibitors in the Green Industry. The field day featured 41 exhibitors representing companies from around the region ranging the gamut from equipment, seed, fertilizers, pesticides, landscape plants, hardscape and more. The 513 attendees where mostly from Indiana and all its surrounding states but many national representatives were also there from various companies to learn more about Purdue’s latest green industry research.

Attendees came from a variety of backgrounds including business owners, managers and staff of wholesale and retail nurseries, landscape management firms, greenhouse growers, golf course superintendents and staff, lawn care companies, grounds maintenance departments, landscape design and installation firms, garden centers, consulting firms, educational institutions, suppliers and more! This year’s field day provided three morning research tours and four afternoon tours including a popular weed garden tour, discussion of shop maintenance and organization, and a tour of landscape research plots at the Meigs Farm.

Fourteen different speakers were at the field day including Purdue faculty/staff from Agronomy, Botany and Plant Pathology, Entomology, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, and Forestry and Natural Resources. This year’s field day was once again a success and continues to be a leading provider of information and education among the Midwest turf professionals and the Green Industry. Mark your calendars for next year’s Turf and Landscape Field Day, July 14, 2015.

Thank you all for coming!

Aaron Patton, Turf Extension Specialist
Kyle Daniel. Landscape and Nursery Extension Specialist

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Weed of the month for July 2014 is Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil  

Biology: Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is a perennial broadleaf weed that is often found on drought-prone and low-fertility soils. It germinates from seed primarily in the spring but sometimes in the fall depending on temperatures. The plant quickly spreads into large colonies by developing stolons and rhizomes during the fall months which allow for dieback of the above-ground tissue during the winter and eventual emergence of the plant the following spring. Its perennial growth habit, along with its ability to survive multiple soil types and moisture regimes, make birdsfoot trefoil a common turfgrass weed throughout the United States, especially in low-maintenance sites.

Identification: Birdsfoot trefoil is a low-growing perennial broadleaf weed . It has a prostrate growth pattern, meaning that it spreads throughout the turf canopy via mat-like stolons and rhizomes. Also referred to as cat’s-clover or devil’s-claw, birdsfoot trefoil is primarily identifiable by its unique-shaped leaves that alternate on the main stem, are trifoliate (3 terminal leaflets at the apex), and have two smaller (wing-like) leaves at the base of the leaves. Leaves can be oval- or oblong-shaped with a point at the apex and identifiable by its distinct blue-greenish color. The main stem is flat (partially square) shaped on the top, rounded on the base and can be sparsely hairy or smooth. Large, bright yellow flowers are produced in late June through the fall in open (clover-like) clusters. Eventually, fruit resembling pea pods develop that are arranged in the shape of a bird’s foot, thus explaining its common name. It may be mistaken for black medic or some clovers; however, birdsfoot trefoil has completely/or nearly entire (smooth) leaf margins. Though black medic also has yellow flowers, they are often smaller and more numerous (clusters) than birdsfoot trefoil flowers. 

Cultural control: Proper turf such as adequate mowing heights, irrigation, and fertilization will help to produce a dense, aggressive turf which is the greatest defense against invading weeds. Birdsfoot trefoil often thrives in soils that are drought-prone or have low fertility; thus, fertilizing with nitrogen containing fertilizers will help reduce birdsfoot trefoil. Physical removal, such as hand-pulling or cultivation (e.g. hoeing) may also provide adequate weed management when populations are small. Although it is important to remove as much below-ground tissue as possible to prevent regrowth.

Biological control: None known for control of birdsfoot trefoil.

Chemical control: There are nonselective and selective control options available for birdsfoot trefoil postemergence (POST) control. Selective POST weed control on birdsfoot trefoil can be achieved with applications of herbicides containing 2,4-D + dicamba + MCPP as well as other herbicide mixtures. Herbicides that contain triclopyr (Turflon Ester) or triclopyr in combination with other herbicides can also control birdsfoot trefoil in cool season grasses.

For more information on weed control, search this blog and check out our Turfgrass Weed Control for Professionals Publication.

For archives of past weed of the month postings, visit our Weed of the Month Archive.

Aaron Patton, Turfgrass Extension Specialist
Leslie Beck, Postdoctoral Research Associate
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Weed Management Next to Sidewalks and Driveways

Weed management next to sidewalks is difficult for several reasons outlined below. These “hot spots” for weed invasion become quite evident during summer as weeds encroach and turf quality declines. The below section outlines some of the causes for hot spots and how to best manage weeds in these areas.
  1. Soils are shallow in these spots. During construction of sidewalks, patios, streets, and driveways extra gravel, concrete, and an occasional 2 by 4 get left in areas adjacent to concrete and asphalt and as a result often only 2-3 inches of soil is present in the 6-12 inches adjacent to pavement. This makes a poor growing environment for turf and a good one for many summer annual weeds.
  2. Soils are warm in these areas. Shallow soils warm more quickly and soils adjacent to asphalt and concrete are subjection to additional radiant heating. Warmer soils are ideal for the germination of summer annual weeds.
  3. Soils are compacted next to sidewalks and drives. Compaction from vehicle and foot traffic compacts soils next to paved areas and when soils are compacted, turf quality is reduced and weeds are increased.
  4. Turf is stressed in these areas. Because of shallow, compacted soils unable to hold moisture and allow for deep rooting and because of increased soil temperatures, cool-season turfgrasses struggle to grow well immediately adjacent to sidewalks, patios, streets, and driveways.
  5. Edging of sidewalks increases risk for weed invasion. While edging your drive and sidewalk makes your lawn and property look sharp, it also exposes some soil on the edges and provides a nice environment for germinating weeds (some of which need sunlight to germinate – and you just removed the turf that was shading the sidewalk edge). Edging your sidewalks in the fall when most weeds aren’t germinating will help reduce weed problems in these areas.
  6. Weeds grow well in these areas for the above four reasons. Yellow nutsedge, prostrate knotweed, prostrate spurge, purslane, crabgrass, goosegrass and more are common weeds in these areas.
Manage weeds in these areas by spot treating with the appropriate herbicides based on the weed population. Additionally, edging sidewalks in the fall (September-November) or in late winter (March) when most weeds aren’t germinating will help reduce weed problems in these areas. Lastly, careful attention during construction and traffic management following establishment will help prevent future problems in these hot spots.

Large crabgrass growing next to a sidewalk

Purslane and yellow nutsedge next to a sidewalk

Prostrate spurge next to a sidewalk

Newly edged sidewalks with exposed soil.

For more information on weed control, search this blog and check out our Turfgrass Weed Control for Professionals Publication.

Aaron Patton, Turf and Weed Science
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The Purdue Turf and Landscape Field Day is Tomorrow

The Purdue Turf and Landscape Field Day is tomorrow, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. This annual one-day event with the objective of providing professional turf and landscape managers exposure and educational opportunities with the latest research and technical resources. Over 500 have pre-registered for the event. The Field Day features turf and landscape research tours, afternoon workshops on current topics, and a tradeshow with 41 exhibitors displaying equipment and turf and landscape products.

The weather forecast looks great! Come join us!

Register On-site
Event Details PDF

July 15, 2014
Daniel Turf Center
1340 Cherry Lane
West Lafayette, IN 47907

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2014 Clean Sweep Dates Now Available

WHAT: An Indiana Pesticide Clean Sweep Project designed to collect and dispose of suspended, canceled, banned, unusable, opened, unopened or just unwanted pesticides (weed killers, insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, miticides, etc.) is being sponsored by the Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC). This disposal service is free of charge up to 250 pounds per participant. Over 250 pounds there will be a $2.00 per pound charge. This is a great opportunity for you to legally dispose of unwanted products at little or no cost.

WHO: All public and private schools, golf courses, nurseries, farmers, ag dealers, cities, towns, municipalities and county units of government or others receiving this notice are eligible to participate.

WHEN: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Local Time

Download the 2014 Clean Sweep Planning Form (pdf)
  • August 12, 2014:  Clay County Fairgrounds, Brazil, IN
  • August 13, 2014:  Dubois County Fairgrounds, Huntingburg, IN
  • August 19, 2014:  Lake County Fairgrounds, Crown Point, IN
  • August 20, 2014:  Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, Lafayette, IN
  • August 21, 2014:  Hendricks County Fairgrounds, Danville, IN

HOW: Complete the 2014 Clean Sweep Planning Form to the best of your ability. Mail, fax or e-mail the completed form to Kevin Neal at 765-494-4331 or nealk@purdue.edu no later than Mon., July 28, 2014. Then bring your labeled, leak free and safe to transport containers to the collection site. DO NOT mix materials. In case of an emergency, you should bring with you a list of products you are carrying and a contact
phone number.

*NOTE: OISC reserves the right to cancel this Pesticide Clean Sweep Project if there is
not adequate demand. Participants submitting the planning form by July 28, 2014 will
be contacted immediately if cancellation is necessary.

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Billbugs Are Here!

Here we are in the second week of July – a time when conditions start to become difficult for cool-season grasses. Heat, drought and wear during this time of the season may all contribute to declining turfgrass quality. However, one of the most commonly overlooked reasons for declining turfgrass quality during this difficult time of the season is damage caused by a group of insects known as billbugs.

These stem boring weevils (Figure 1) become active in the spring when soil temperatures rise into the mid 50’s. Adult billbugs migrate into turfgrass lawns during April and May by walking in from nearby overwintering sites. Adults begin feeding and mating, and eggs are deposited into the stems or tillers of turfgrass plants. This feeding and egg-laying activity does not pose much of a problem for cool-season turfgrass plants which are easily able to outgrow such minor damage during this cool, wet time of the year. After the eggs hatch, the tiny larvae feed inside turfgrass stems, eventually moving to the crown of the plant where feeding continues. Feeding on the crowns and roots eventually kills the plant causing small dead spots in the turf. This damage resembles that of dollar spot disease and can easily be misdiagnosed. As feeding continues and damage accumulates, the small dead spots coalesce into larger patches of dead turf as seen in figure 2. Again, because of other physiological stresses experienced by cool-season grasses during this hot, dry time of year, damage from billbugs is often misdiagnosed as disease, drought stress, heat stress or soil compaction.

The best way to positively diagnose billbug damage is by using a simple method called the tug-test. To perform the test, grasp several of the damaged tillers and pull straight upward. Turfgrass damaged by billbugs will break-off easily just at or below the soil surface. Examination of the bottom ends of the broken tillers will often reveal tattered or shredded ends and small amounts of fine, powdery sawdust-like material left behind by the larvae (Figure 3). These symptoms are diagnostic for billbug damage and no other insect or disease will cause these particular symptoms.

During July, billbug larvae can often be found in the soil beneath damaged turf.
Digging or coring the soil and carefully breaking it apart will usually reveal the larvae which may be accompanied by pupae and teneral adults that can be recognized by their unique, brick red color (Figure 4).

After the adults emerge from the soil, their exoskeletons harden and take-on the typical black, brown or gray coloration. Throughout the Midwest, these new adults will typically feed for a short period before they begin moving to overwintering sights where they will remain until the following spring. Under some circumstances, a partial second generation may occur. The larvae resulting from these eggs can sometimes be found in September, but they do not survive the winter in this part of the country.

Doug Richmond, Turfgrass Entomology

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Bermudagrass Cultivar Winter Survival Update

As we exit the end of the first full week of July 2014 in the aftermath of the “PolarVortex” many winter-survival questions still remain. Here is what we do know… spring green-up was extremely slow and regional weather conditions continue to be suboptimal for aggressive warm-season grass growth. While individual cultural practices for a particular site combined with late-season traffic and macro and micro-environments certainly play a role, one of the overriding major factors affecting survival, however, is plain and simple superior genetics. At this point, we have a pretty good sense for what is persistent in our climate following a severe winter.

The natural question the specialists in our program have often received this spring is: “I lost a significant amount of turf from this past winter. If I replant to bermudagrass, what should I plant that will better survive winter than what we had before?” To help answer that question in 2013 we planted 42 different bermudagrass cultivars as part of the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program trial. Each cultivar was planted in early June of 2013 in a full-sun site and replicated 3 times in our study. By the middle of June 2014 a final “% green bermudagrass” was rated and there were 9 cultivars that had 40% or more green cover (averaged across the three replications). Of these nine cultivars, five are “named”/commercial cultivars (not experimental numbers). These five cultivars were (in no particular order): Yukon, Latitude 36, Patriot, Astro and Quickstand. The remaining four cultivars were “experimental” and are still under long-term evaluation. There is one additional newer cold-hardy cultivar, Northbridge, which has received some attention because of it’s winter tolerance, but was not in our version of the 2013 test. We have since replanted the cultivars that were lost in the 2013 test and this time included Northbridge. In summary… stay tuned for more updates!

For those of you still struggling with your warm-season turf and wondering if you should stick with this grass, please realize the winter of 2013-2014 was one of the most severe in the last 38 years… and is unlikely to happen again this year. Keep in mind, however, that there may be better and improved cultivar “technologies” compared to what you have been managing for decades. Give them a look, even if they are in some small test areas at your facility. And don’t forget… First, THERE IS NO PERFECT GRASS! Second, although the summer of 2012 when we endured severe drought and heat may be a distant memory, summer heat and extended drought will continue to be a chronic concern for decades to come.

Cale A. Bigelow and Aaron Patton – Purdue Turf Science
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