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Disease pops up as pressure rises - Unlock & Play update

Disease Control
Unlock and Play trials area drone shot for 9 Sept report

An ingress of fungal turf diseases on the STRI trials ground has prompted this week’s discussion from the Syngenta Unlock and Play trial - investigating the impacts of integrated turf management techniques on summer stress under simulated traffic (wear).

Anthracnose, typical for this time of year, has manifested on many trial areas this week, along with an early influx of microdochium patch, reports STRI Research Operations Mananger, Dr Christian Spring.

Disease on Unlock and Play trials for 9 Sept report

It will be very interesting to see on the Unlock and Play trial if preventing excessive turf stress will result in less disease activity this autumn. The theory being that a healthier and stronger grass plant will be more resilient and resistant to naturally occurring fungal pathogens.

Turf disease is always a hot topic come September – the traditional start of the autumn disease season.

For a research station like STRI, the influx of fungal turf diseases is usually a welcome sight and allows us to collect valuable data on the efficacy of different products that are designed to promote turf health.

Mark Ferguson video image for 9 Sept post

Watch the latest Unlock and Play trial video report from STRI


The recent warm and wet weather, coupled with heavy dews in the morning have seen the emergence of a few small patches of microdochium on the Unlock and Play trial.

At the moment, disease activity is at low levels. Our advice to greenkeepers at this stage is much like Boris’s advice to the country – stay alert!

Disease inspection on Unlock and Play trials for 9 Sept report

Any outbreaks of fungal turf disease at this time of year could spread, in which case, there’s a need to act and apply a fungicide. However, it is possible that a few days of dry sunny weather will see off any disease activity, for the time being.

As we move further into September and October keep a close eye on turf surfaces. If microdochium is usually a problem in the autumn at your sports facility, then, chances are, it will be a problem again this year.

Prevention is better than cure when controlling outbreaks of turf disease. With changes in the number and types of active ingredients available in fungicides, it pays to be vigilant.

Many of the “get out of jail” products that worked at most temperatures and had a wide window of opportunity for use have disappeared.

Fungicides currently available are highly effective, but the best strategy with products like Medallion TL and Instrata Elite is to use them preventatively to protect the turf from fungal disease. Don’t wait too long before you apply, or the damage may already be done!

Read the previous Unlock and Play trial report on Growing Degree Days

Trial objectives

The Unlock and Play trial, conducted on behalf of Syngenta, with support from ICL, has evolved from the original Lockdown Trial earlier this season. The new trial is examining integrated turf management techniques and their impact on summer stresses such as simulated golf wear, drought, heat, and light stress. The trial is running during summer, when play on golf courses is at its peak.

Overview of Unlock and Play trials for GDD for 9 Sept report

The Primo Maxx II programme used in the lockdown trial continues:

  1. No Primo Maxx II
  2. Primo Maxx II applied @ 0.4 l/ha every 7 days
  3. Primo Maxx II applied @ 0.4 l/ha every 50 GDD
  4. Primo Maxx II applied @ 0.4 l/ha every 100 GDD

In addition to this, a summer stress management programme is being applied to trial plots in combination with standard management and compared to standard management alone.

  • Standard management: Qualibra applied monthly @ 20 l/ha and ICL Greenmaster Liquid 25.0.0 applied at low rates 19 l/ha every fortnight.
  • Summer stress management programme: Syngenta bio-stimulant @10 l/ha, ICL Sportsmaster WSF Seamax @ 1 kg/ha and Ryder @ 0.5 l/ha. Applied every fortnight.

The products in the summer stress management programme have been chosen because they are able to improve turf health and wear tolerance without applying an excess of nutrient to turf.

No irrigation will be applied to the trial area, but it will be left uncovered to the elements. Simulated golf wear will be applied weekly to replicate a busy golf course.

Visual assessments of turf quality, colour, live grass cover and evenness are being made weekly along with measurements of sward height, NDVI and light intensity.

Along with commentary trial and provision of real time results to aid ongoing management decisions, video updates are being produced that focus on the different stresses and approaches to combat each form of stress.

The picture is likely to change over the coming week with the possibility of thunder showers and heavy rain coupled with continued hot weather.

Read more of the Unlock and Play trial stress management topics:

Find out more of the trials results and what it means for managing your turf with Glenn Kirby's GreenCast Advisory Blog

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