Important Fall Steps for a Super Spring Season

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[NOTE: This article first appeared in the October 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

Michael Gardner PortraitWith fall just beginning, it’s hard to believe that it’s time to think about spring. This is how far ahead local superintendents are planning, so that you, the golfer, can have the best playing conditions coming out of winter. Great early spring playing conditions are hugely dependent on the important techniques and action we take in the fall.

The consensus among turf grass specialists is the healthiest turf going into winter makes for the healthiest turf coming out of winter. Fighting against our best efforts is Mother Nature, with extreme temperatures, snow, wind, short days and long, cold nights.

We have been talking about and working on turf health throughout the long, hot, dry summer. Now is the time to start a fall program, before turf goes dormant for winter. The following are a few of the things that our local superintendents do to prepare for going into winter.

  • Balance nutrients.
  • Eliminate the thatch layer.
  • Maximize root systems.
  • Stimulate microbial diversity.
  • Eliminate and prevent fungus.

Balanced Nutrition

Balanced nutrition is important while turf and soil are still receptive. Balanced nutrition includes micronutrients in addition to the macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Most turf grass specialists recommend avoiding high nitrogen going into winter as it can feed winter molds, such as snow mold. At Huma Gro® Turf, we like to start with the balanced nutrients in Turfplex® VII, which has a guaranteed analysis of 7-7-7 with 8 micronutrients.

Eliminate Thatch Layer

In addition to balanced nutrition, turf needs access to water. A key component in helping turf grass survive the winter is eliminating excess thatch and organic matter. We do this because water has trouble penetrating thatch layers, resulting in dry soils and limited root growth and microbial activity. Excessive thatch also holds moisture at the surface, which is a breeding ground for disease.

In addition, when we have a thatch layer over one quarter inch, the crowns of the plants are exposed to the cold winter temperatures. Soils with less thatch keep those crowns deeper in the soil and protected from extreme temperatures.

Fertil Humus® is a great way to decompose thatch and organic matter, resulting in a fertile and humus-rich soil. Surf-Max® is one of the few surfactants on the market that allows water to quickly penetrate the thatch layer.

Maximize Root Systems

Root systems are the anchor of our turf grass. The more extensive the root system, the better chance we have to achieve plant health. Huma Gro® Turf Breakout® encourages a dense, fibrous root system through hormone stimulation and horizontal cell division.

Stimulate Microbial Diversity

Soil is its own complex ecosystem. The more diverse this ecosystem, the healthier the soil. This diversity must be focused on beneficial microbes, beneficial bacteria and fungi. When beneficial biology levels are high, pathogens are naturally suppressed. Huma Gro® Turf Zap® feeds and stimulates this diverse population of beneficial organisms, achieving a proper, balanced soil biology.

Fungicide

All the work to achieve overall turf and soil health can go to waste if we fail to protect our course against winter fungus. Turf grass specialists recommend a healthy dose of fungicide going into winter. At Huma Gro® Turf, we prefer to do this organically. Promax® is an OMRI-Listed organic fungicide that is effective against turf pathogens. Not only does Promax® control turf grass disease but, unlike other harsh pesticides, it also builds soil health at the same time –– a win-win.

In summary, healthy turf withstands the stresses of winter and the extremes of Mother Nature. These preventive steps help superintendents take a proactive approach to prepare for winter. A proactive fall program reduces or eliminates the need for reactive spring repair and recovery.

When you notice how great your local course looks in the spring, be sure to tell your golf course superintendent how much you appreciate all the planning and hard work.

Evaluation of PROMAX® and ZAP® on Stunt Nematodes in Turf

Research by Robert Wick, PhD, University of Massachusetts

Objectives

This study aims to assess the efficacy of Huma Gro® Turf PROMAX® followed by ZAP® to control stunt nematodes (Tylenchorhynchus) on turf.

Materials and Methods

The golf green for this study was approximately 59 years old, with a mixture of annual bluegrass and creeping bentgrass. It was located in Westfield Massachusetts and had a history of moderately high populations of stunt nematodes. The analysis of the top 4 inches of soil resulted in 86.4% sand, 10.3% silt, and 0.002% clay, which classifies this soil as a loamy sand.

PROMAX® was applied five times at two-week intervals, on May 21, June 2, June 17, June 29, and July 7. ZAP® was also applied on June 29. The treatments were applied to six randomized plots (6’ x 6’) with six non-treated controls (Figure 1). For each plot, PROMAX® (and later, ZAP®) was applied in two gallons of water using a watering can. Each plot received the equivalent of two gallon/acre PROMAX® (and later, ZAP®). Following the application, approximately 0.22 inches of water were applied to the plots.

For nematode evaluations, 10 cores were taken from each plot and bulked as one sample per plot. Nematodes were recovered by wet sieving/sugar flotation and identified to genus. Nematode assays were carried out on April 29, Jun 3, July 1, and August 4. The data were subjected to analysis of variance and a test of least significant difference (LSD).

Conclusion

Huma Gro® Turf PROMAX® followed by ZAP® significantly controlled stunt nematodes (Tylenchorhynchus) on turf.

Click here to read the report.

Field Trial: Promax Controls Nematodes for English Boxwood

Virginia Tech Kentland Experimental Research Farm, McCoy, Va.

This two-year trial aimed to assess the suppression effects of PROMAX® and 2 types of beneficial nematode treatments (S. feltiae and S. riobrave) versus a control on plant-parasitic nematodes (Stunt, Lance, Ring, and Spiral) for English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens L. var. suffruticosa) ornamental plants.

The results reported in this trial demonstrate that application of 1 treatment of the nematicide PROMAX® reduced population percentages of the 4 plant-parasitic nematodes studied at both 7 days and 30 days post-treatment in years 1 and 2, with PROMAX® being more effective than the other 2 treatments studied for both time periods. This is an indication that PROMAX® suppresses nematodes by killing them on contact.

Repeated applications may be required to achieve suppression for periods longer than 30 days.

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Preparing the Course for Tournament Play

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[NOTE: This article first appeared in the May 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

The arrival of spring brings a flurry of activities to the golf course. The volume of play increases, as does the volume of work for the superintendent and staff who keep the course in tip-top shape. At the same time, it’s important to take steps to improve turf health at the same rate activity increases. This can be a major challenge. Tee times are reserved earlier each day, putting a time-crunch on the grounds crew to prepare the course for daily play.

In addition, special events throughout the golfing season require the course to be in excellent condition. Club championships, qualifying events, and tournaments bring hundreds of participants and spectators to the course all at the same time.

Getting turf into tournament condition while preparing for scheduled events and increased play takes planning. Superintendents must have a strategy and contingency plan in order to meet the superior course conditions expected by tournament attendees, spectators, and club members. Not only can additional traffic damage turf, but the disruptions and practices a superintendent must engage in to prepare greens for events can be potentially harmful to the turf.

In order to schedule greens to peak during tournaments and special events, a superintendent must carefully plan backwards to perfect application timing, irrigation, and course management. Attaining firm and fast playing conditions without harming turf health is a priority and a challenge. To do so, a golf course superintendent should schedule a complete NPK liquid fertilizer program enhanced with micronutrients and iron every 7–10 days, beginning two to three weeks prior to the date of the event.

Light, frequent hand-watering prior to and during tournament play prevents a wet, soft, and slow green and maintains a firm and healthy green. Brooming the greens is a less-abrasive approach to enhance greens prior to and during tournament without damaging weak spots. Mowing heights can be safely lowered prior to tournament play. A superintendent should double-cut four days prior to special events and roll daily during event play. The least disruptive method of aeration should be scheduled prior to events so the green has time to heal. Greens should be aerated immediately again after events to relieve stress.

To help superintendents achieve and schedule the superior tournament conditions they desire from their course, Huma Gro® Turf has developed a Tournament Preparation Program. By providing soil and turf nutrition, our products build healthy soil and strong, healthy turf. Two to three weeks prior to tournament play, the following Huma Gro® Turf products can be easily mixed together and applied at a volume of 2 to 3 ounces per thousand square feet.

Because turf health starts with healthy soil, Multi-Purpose® builds soil health by feeding beneficial bacteria in the soil, creating a carbon-rich soil and improving the soil structure.

Breakout® provides the necessary nutrients for root growth and root mass development. Encouraging horizontal turf growth, Breakout® creates a dense, uniform and consistent turf for superior ball-rolling characteristics. In the fairways, Breakout® speeds recovery from verticutting, aerating, and ball marks.

Max Pak® is a stress fighter that promotes healthy turf by providing a highly stable source of many important macronutrients to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients.

Turfplex® IV contains macro- and micronutrients with organic acid to increase the absorption of nutrients, producing a vigorous turf. It’s fast acting and long lasting.

Tuff Greens is a blend of potassium, calcium, and silica, designed to strengthen the turf blades to withstand heavy traffic and provide a superior playing surface.

For best results, this turf prep program should be started two to three weeks prior to tournament play. A second application should be applied again one to two weeks before tournament events.

As the event date draws close, and superior turf conditions have been established for tournament play, Turf-Iron should be applied together with an additional application of Tuff Greens two or three days prior to the event. Turf-Iron enhances the turf color to put the finishing touches on course conditions.

Additionally, superintendents can prevent the appearance of ugly white pesticide residue by using safe, effective, and residue-free turf protection products such as Promax® or Proud 3®. Promax® prevents and controls nematodes and soil-borne diseases. Proud 3® is a foliar applied insecticide, miticide, and fungicide.

During this two- to three-week process, our products provide soil and turf nutrition, building a healthy soil structure and pushing turf to beautiful, strong, superior conditions. Overall turf health is increased through balanced nutrition. Optimal playing conditions—faster, firmer, smoother greens—are achieved by managing proper plant growth and turf blade strength. Most importantly, the course is ready for heavy play and tournament events.

Consult your local Huma Gro® Turf representative or turf specialist for specific recommendations. All Huma Gro® Turf products can be mixed together. All Huma Gro® Turf liquid products include Micro Carbon Technology®, a proprietary blend of very small organic molecules that allows more effective absorption of nutrients by plants.

Relieving Golf Course Heat and Heavy Traffic Stresses

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[Note: This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

I just had one of those days on the golf course when you sit back and think, “Wow, what a great day!” I played a fabulous course in Carlsbad, Calif., where the ocean breeze is cool and refreshing and the sun warms your soul.

The course runs through coastal hills and valleys with impressive elevation changes. From the hill tops, you can see the ocean. Down in the valleys are wetlands, streams, and what are called “environmentally sensitive” areas where the foliage is thick and tall. An impressive 7 miles of cart paths weave in and out of canyons. You may drive 2 to 3 minutes through beautiful surroundings to get to the next tee box.

This day reminded me how much I love the beauty of golf. Not necessarily the game itself, but the actual beauty of the game. Standing on the first tee box with a large ravine in front of me, the green grass of the fairway in the distance, and the ocean to my right, I felt life’s stresses fading away.

I often think about the different stresses of life. As a “turf guy,” I’m aware of the stresses affecting golf courses. Just as stress affects our bodies, the different avenues stress takes are no different with turf. Stress from different angles affects turf health and playability.

Golf turf stresses are similar throughout the country. It’s a warm weather activity and local courses get a lot of play. These factors bring stress, not only to the courses, but to the golf course superintendents.

With spring around the corner, and soon the summer heat, it’s important for superintendents to get an early start on soil health and hydration. The summer heat brings drought, hot spots, water repellency, and other issues. Proper soil health ensures water penetration and retention, alleviating and reducing heat stress symptoms, now and in the future. Huma Gro® Turf focuses on long-term soil health to combat the summer heat.

With summer also comes the stress of soil compaction caused by heavy play. This includes all parts of the course: cart paths, walking paths, fairways, tee boxes, and greens. Running hundreds of golf carts each day takes a toll on golf courses. Superintendents take great care in directing traffic to reduce compaction. Proper soil health can help maintain air pockets in the soil and break up compaction.

Other proactive measures to prevent damage caused by summer heat and heavy play include raising mowing heights and using smooth rollers, alternating mowing and rolling and skipping a day when possible; aerating soil using smaller tines; fertilizing in small doses; and monitoring traffic patterns. Water management is essential—a surfactant should be used for quick water penetration and to increase moisture retention during a drought or to treat hot spots. A preventive fungicide is recommended.

Whether stress is created by the environment or the game, Huma Gro® Turf products can help. Programs have been developed that use a range of turf products to combat stress caused by summer heat and heavy play. Huma Gro® Turf products can be another tool for superintendents to use to prevent many stress issues on the course.

Huma Gro® Turf Surf-Max® soil surfactant improves water penetration and movement through the soil and roots. Turfplex® VII is recommended to nourish and correct deficiencies for vigor, vitality, and color; Calcium is applied for strength, growth, and plant health; Sil-K® for stronger blades for heat and wear tolerance; and Multi-Purpose™ for improved air and water exchange in the soil. These products are the Heat Stress Program and can be mixed together.

The Heavy Traffic Program includes Turfplex® IV, a fast-acting, long-lasting nitrogen source for vigorous turf, as well as Sil-K® and Multi-Purpose™, which are also in the Heat Stress Program. These products are recommended for use prior to tournaments and in heavy traffic areas. They strengthen the grass stem to prevent ball marks, fight cleat damage, and give the ball a faster, truer roll.

In addition to preventing heat and heavy traffic stress, Huma Gro® Turf Promax® is a recommended zero re-entry pesticide to cure and protect against nematodes and diseases in the soil. Huma Gro® Turf products can be mixed together.

Huma Gro® Turf provides the tools for stress-free turf. Whether you’re a superintendent enjoying your stress-free turf, a turf guy like me, and/or a golfer, the next time you’re standing at the tee box, look out and enjoy the beauty of nature, take a deep breath, and feel the stress trickle away.

Consult your local Huma Gro® Turf representative or turf specialist for specific recommendations. Huma Gro® Turf products include Micro Carbon Technology®, a proprietary blend of very small organic molecules that allows for more effective absorption of nutrients by plants.

Huma Gro® Turf Special Turf Programs can be found at https://humagroturf.com/special-turf-programs/.

 

Keeping Greens Healthy

By Michael Gardner, Senior Director of Huma Gro® Turf Sales at Bio Huma Netics, Inc.

[Note: This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide Magazine.]

Greens are the most valuable real estate on a golf course. Keeping them in top condition is a priority for every golf course superintendent. We always try to be proactive, to address known potential problems before they become actual problems that the members and patrons notice. But even with the best planning and prevention measures, unexpected problems come up. And if a problem is on the greens, then it’s “all hands on deck” time.

Technology is available to help us maintain the health of our greens, not to mention our entire courses. I’m a big fan of soil and plant analysis, using science to its fullest to help create and maintain good plant health. Soil analysis, in particular, can be a big help, because many turf diseases stem from soil conditions that are known to be conducive to pathogens. These conditions should always be on our radar so that we can deal with them before serious problems arise.

Soil is where all things good and bad begin for turf. It is the foundation of almost everything we do to create healthy, playable conditions for all to enjoy. Analysis not only gives us a view of nutrient levels, but also gives us a view into our soil structure, organic matter, our soil’s potential for health, and much more. These analyses can also help us to look into the future to see if there is an emerging environment conducive to pathogens that can lead to turf disease.

Huma Gro® Turf has developed a standard turf health program for greens that has been successful all over the world. The focus is on soil health and nutrition along with plant health and managed growth. The program is a package of four products, all powered by Micro Carbon Technology® for quick plant and soil response. They include MULTI-PURPOSE™ for soil health, BREAKOUT® for turf density and increased root mass, TURF IRON™ for color, and TURFPLEX® VII for balanced nutrition. These liquid products are simply poured into a sprayer tank prefilled with water—no dissolving needed, no compatibility issues, and no clogging of nozzles. Better yet, no watering-in is needed. These products can be applied in your normal application routine and can be watered in as part of a standard irrigation program.

One of the benefits of the Huma Gro® Turf products is that the Micro Carbon Technology® protects the nutrient molecule so that leaching and runoff become less of an issue for your course. This results in less wasted product and makes the courses much more environmentally friendly.

With the best plans in place and with the best of intentions, problems can still arise from time to time. Sometimes these are the result of inherited problems caused by years of mismanagement, and sometimes they are the result of extraordinary circumstances that are out of the superintendent’s control.

One such challenge is fairy ring.

Fairy ring can be caused by multiple types of fungi. When large numbers of these fungi colonize in a particular location, the soil becomes hydrophobic, or water repellent. Fairy ring can be a simple nuisance in the early stages, but it can lead to turf death along the rings when not confronted. When signs of fairy ring first emerge, it’s important to begin treatment before turf damage occurs. One proven intervention is Huma Gro® Turf’s PROMAX® product—an organic, OMRI listed, broad-spectrum fungicide that can be applied any time without harm to the turf or the environment. It has a zero-reentry interval, meaning that golf play can resume the same day as treatment. PROMAX® is both a curative and preventive product. When applied once a quarter, PROMAX® can also help to keep a healthy soil environment that is pathogen-free.

When spot-spraying PROMAX® or any other fungicide for fairy ring, it is important to treat both sides of the ring—fairy ring travels as the fungi seek out new food sources. It is also important to get product deep into the soil environment. Fungi can be present in the thatch layer down to 10+ inches deep in the soil. Once the fungi have been dealt with, it is important to address the hydrophobic “dry spot” they created in the soil. This can be dealt with by applying SURF-MAX®, a surfactant that brings moisture back into the soil and allows healthy hydration and nutrition uptake to resume.

Another preventive measure that can be taken to minimize the threat of fairy ring is proper management of the thatch layer itself. Huma Gro® Turf’s FERTIL HUMUS® product can aid in this management by decomposing the thatch layer and building a humus-rich soil.

Although any turf disease is a complex situation that may require special interventions, the steps and products I’ve described here provide additional tools for the superintendent’s arsenal in achieving overall soil health—the first step to creating healthy greens.

A complete list of Huma Gro® Turf special programs can be found at https://humagroturf.com/special-turf-programs/.

Latest Edition of the BHN Newsletter, The Solution, Is Available

We love to hear stories from the people who use our products, and a number of those stories are included in this issue of The Solution. We begin with a report from Holden Research and Consulting on how use of certain Huma Gro® products on strawberries led to an ROI of over $3,400/acre. Amazing! Equally amazing is a report from Plant Sciences showing how effective Promax® is at controlling 8 strawberry pathogens. It seems that Huma Gro® and strawberries have an affinity for each other.

In our Probiotic Solutions® section we report on a case study involving a small town in New Mexico that was in need of reducing the sludge in its wastewater treatment system lagoon in order to meet state requirements. After 300 days of using Bio Energizer®, sludge was reduced to the point where the town had regained capacity to better handle the incoming flow and meet its permit requirements without dredging.

On the back page we share some videos out of Colombia, South America, from postings to the Huma Gro® groups on WhatsApp. Any story that involves a mule has got to be interesting, and the video showing hand foliar application of Breakout® on rice from San Jacinto del Cauca does not disappoint.

We also announce new Huma Gro® catalogs in English and Spanish, an updated Huma Gro® Turf catalog, and the launching of a Spanish version of our Huma Gro® blog at https://humagro.com/category/espanol/: We hope to use this blog to bring even more people into the Huma Gro® conversation.

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42-day Organic Nematode Program

Our 42-day program to get rid of nematodes in turf calls for three applications of PROMAX™ Organic Nematacide plus one application of ZAP® Soil Restorer. The PROMAX™ will kill nearly all nematodes in your soil up to 12″ deep and the ZAP® encourages the beneficial microbes that are left in the soil to thrive and crowd out new nematodes that might otherwise develop.