What’s the one key thing golf course superintendents need to remember when making a fungicide application?

EDITOR’S NOTE: In February and March, Superintendent magazine features a two-part question-and-answer series on fungicide technology. In each segment, representatives from the industry’s vast number of chemical companies will be asked one question in regard to fungicide technology. The representatives’ answers are listed along with their photos. Later in the year, we’ll feature Q&A’s about herbicide and insecticide technology.

Adam Manwarren | Fungicide Brand Manager, FMC Professional Solutions

The fungicide market is getting more difficult to manage because of the number of new products, combinations, and formulation types and additives. As a result, the best thing a superintendent can do is make a cheat sheet of his primary and secondary diseases, and develop a matrix to understand the top three to four control products’ key strengths, use rates and cost. Then the superintendent should align on where there is overlap in product chemistry based on disease-control spectrum, but may differ on FRAC Group designation or tank mix compatibility. Remember that those that fail to plan, plan to fail.

Kyle Miller | Senior Technical Specialist, BASF

Superintendents need to make sure that they match up the correct fungicide with the target disease(s) for that particular application. For instance, if dollar spot and brown patch are the target, make sure the spray tank contains a top-performing dollar spot and/or brown patch product. While many superintendents plan out and program the products they are going to use in advance, changes in environmental conditions may change the key diseases that we might want to control at that time.

Jerry Corbett | Technical Services Manager for Product Development, Quali-Pro

Every superintendent knows the importance of proper disease identification to help determine the proper fungicide course of action. Additionally, it’s important to know which mode of action or class of fungicide is being used to minimize the chance of disease resistance.

This winter has brought extremely cold temperatures all over the U.S., so superintendents may begin this spring with a much weaker turfgrass base. There could be a greater risk of developing more complex diseases. Adjustments may need to be made with fungicide programs this season. Effective disease control may warrant the need to use more broad-spectrum fungicides.

George Furrer | Director of U.S. Specialty Business, SipcamAdvan

In today’s professional turfgrass maintenance environment, accomplishing more with less is the new normal. Superintendents need fungicides that not only deliver disease control, but also help mitigate the negative effects of turf stress. This makes high-performance turf more efficient and supports optimal growth by increasing photosynthesis and decreasing photorespiration. Products that combine unique stress-management technology with the industry’s most proven and trusted fungicides – in ratios to maximize plant health – will ensure the greatest return on a fungicide investment. The turf will look better and play better all season long.

Matthew Weaver | Senior Technical Services Advisor, CGCS, CIVITAS

The timing of a fungicide application is critical. The application of fungicides, such as CIVITAS, in a preventive manner can help save time, money and headaches – but it must be done right. For example, if superintendents wait to see symptoms of a pathogen before they apply a fungicide, in most cases, they’re too late. That pathogen has likely been active for days or even weeks and has gone undetected. Using prediction models or keeping records and understanding conditions that cause outbreaks at a specific course can help superintendents plan well-timed applications ahead of visual symptoms for optimal results. This practice can also help to save repeated and expensive curative applications, as well as the time needed for the turf to recover from damage.

Rick Fletcher | Technical Services Manager, Nufarm

Superintendents are well aware of the three points in the disease triangle, but successful disease management is a function of the “Four Corners.” The four corners of this principle are [1] the proper diagnosis of the pathogen; [2] selection of an appropriate active ingredient and formulation that provide an acceptable combination of efficacy and cost; [3] understand the inherent movement of the product; and [4] the proper application of that product with equipment calibrated for the water volume, pressure, nozzle selection and application speed. Product location and plant coverage, which allow the longest pesticide interaction with the pest, is critical.

Doug Houseworth | Turf and Ornamental Technical Manager, Arysta LifeScience

Superintendents need to base fungicide selections on their past experiences. Upon receiving the proper diagnosis of a disease problem, pick a fungicide that is appropriate, noting single active ingredient (AI) products may control only one specific disease well. With that, superintendents need to confirm the exact disease before selecting a fungicide that will be effective. Products like DISARM C fungicide, with multiple AIs, serve as the broad-spectrum approach – they take care of multiple diseases with one product. Additionally, product mixtures are an effective resistance strategy to minimize resistance.

Frank Wong, Ph.D. | Green Solutions Team Member, Bayer Environmental Science

When making fungicide applications, proper spray volume and nozzle selection are essential for adequate coverage and penetration. Even the best fungicide application won’t give you great results if the spray doesn’t hit the target. Big droplets delivered by flood-type nozzles or water volumes lower than 1 to 2 gallons per 1,000 square feet won’t provide adequate coverage for disease control. Additionally, for soilborne diseases, you have to make sure the applications get past the canopy and contact the soil surface or roots (consider using flat fans at 30 to 40 pounds per square inch with 2 or more gallons per 1,000 square feet). For diseases deeper in the soil, additional watering-in helps push the application to where the target resides. Just think, a $1,500 application to your greens for fairy ring isn’t doing anything if it’s sitting on the foliage!

Howard Jaekle | Fungicide Brand Manager, Syngenta

When choosing fungicides, we recommend superintendents think holistically. Although taking care of an acute problem is extremely important, a holistic plan will reduce potential acute issues. It will also enhance the superintendent’s ability to effectively manage chemistry rotation and, most importantly, develop a plan that will lead to the ultimate goal of creating optimal turf quality throughout the season. The added benefit of this approach has been proven time and again. Better quality turf recovers from stress more quickly and transitions between seasons with fewer problems. This leads to the ultimate goal of providing the best playing conditions for their customers for the entire playing season.

Jill Calabro | Field Market Development Manager, Valent U.S.A.

Proper disease diagnosis. Many product failures are the result of choosing the wrong product to control a pest. Whether it’s a weed, insect or plant disease, not every pesticide will control every pest. Symptoms of many turf diseases can look alike, even to seasoned plant pathologists. A proper diagnosis conducted by a research lab will positively identify a disease so that a superintendent can design a proper management plan to control the disease, which may or may not include a fungicide. If a fungicide is recommended for control, make certain that the fungicide selected is labeled for the target disease. For example, if Pythium is identified as the problem, most broad-spectrum fungicides will not control it, and a Pythium-specific product is recommended. Also, application of the fungicide may change based on the target disease. For example, fungicides to control diseases that infect the roots and/or crown of the plant need to reach the root and/or crown of the plant to protect it and are often applied with a high volume of water or watered in following application.

Owen Towne | President, Phoenix/UPI

Superintendents need to consider several factors when making a fungicide application, including selecting the appropriate product for the disease, correct timing, rotational considerations, water volume, expected weather events (wind/rain/frost) and potential antagonism with tank-mix partners. Selecting the appropriate fungicide(s) for the disease or disease complex is critical. Ensuring the sprayer is correctly calibrated and operating correctly will prevent over or under application. Applying promptly after mixing will alleviate possible settling issues. Correct application using labeled rates and adequate water volume will ensure the superintendent derives optimal disease control from the application.

Trevor Thorley | President, Engage Agro USA

Superintendents strive to produce quality, disease-free turf. Golfers and the general public want many superintendents to seek sustainable options, minimizing the environmental impact where they live and play. Here’s a quick fungicidal selection checklist. Efficacy: Is there recognized university and peer research supporting product efficacy? Resistance management: Do I manage resistance issues using fungicides in rotation or in mixtures from different FRAC code groups? Ease of Use: Tank mix compatibility, rain-fastness. Sustainability: Is this product a sustainable option (OMRI listed) for my course?

TOP TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

  • Proper identification and diagnosis of disease.
  • Select appropriate product to combat the disease.
  • Remember resistance management.
  • Timing is everything.
  • Select a fungicide based on past experiences.
  • Understand inherent movement of the product.
  • Proper spray volume and nozzle selection.
  • A holistic plan will prevent potential acute issues.