Wild hog damage featured at turfgrass conference

Johnny Morgan  |  1/11/2018 8:06:49 PM

(01/11/18) BATON ROUGE La. Turfgrass professionals heard about a wide range of topics at the 2018 Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference on Jan. 9 at Tiger Stadium on the LSU campus.

Even LSU head baseball coach Paul Mainieri explained the importance of good turf as he welcomed attendees to the LSU campus.

“We have some of the most loyal and dedicated staff working on our turf, and it shows in how good our field looks,” Mainieri said.

The conference, which normally covers issues specific to the industry, was expanded this year to include topics with a wider range of appeal, said Ron Strahan, LSU AgCenter weed scientist who coordinates the annual event.

Since the feral hog problem has gained attention, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry presented information on the damage hogs are causing to golf courses, sod farms and other turf sites.

LDAF feral swine program coordinator, Gene Cavalier said the goal of his department is to partner with other groups in a combined effort to manage feral hogs.

“In order to get the needed 75 percent control rate, we need to confront the problem from a team approach,” he said. “We want to help identify the problem so we can develop an effective strategy for control.”

During the presentation, Cavalier showed a variety of trapping systems that are being effectively used to capture feral hogs.

Mississippi State University turfgrass breeder Eric Reasor presented information on how to manage offtype grasses in ultradwarf putting greens.

“We’re currently looking at ways of dampening the growth of these grasses,” he said. “We don’t really have a way to kill these grasses right now, but we are using some techniques to keep them under control, such as the use of growth regulators.”

Strahan’s presentation dealt with ways of controlling Virginia buttonweed, doveweed, dollarweed and lespedeza in turfgrass.

“A lot of the problems that I see in turf is a lack of aeration,” he said. “If when you walk across the lawn and it sounds like you’re walking on a hardwood floor that probably means that you need to get in there and allow some airflow.”

Bobby Soileau, director of Ag Leadership for the AgCenter, discussed ways of handling stress on the job. He included some statistics on what causes the most stress on the job and how to minimize it.

“Many people think that money, or the lack thereof, is the main cause of stress, but that is not the main problem,” he said. “Research shows the main cause of workplace stress is workload.”

More than 1 million people are absent from work each day due to stress, with the most common psychological symptom being fatigue, he said.

Turfgrass is a huge, multi-level industry that includes golf courses, sod farmers, parks and recreation, Strahan said. “So it’s a huge industry that provides a lot of jobs in the state.”

AgCenter plant scientist Jeff Beasley discussed best management practices for controlling thatch.

“We normally think of our lawns as being grass in touch with the soil, but thatch is also a major part of the lawn,” he said.

Thatch is the buildup of dead material, which is a major problem in Louisiana because of the long growing season.

“The best way to control thatch is with verticutting, which is cutting the grass vertically, instead of horizontal,” Beasley said. “It looks ugly, but it will do the job of managing your thatch problem.”

AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator Kim Pope outlined the importance of following the directions on herbicide and pesticide labels.

“You will notice that years ago the average label was just a few paragraphs, but now labels can be multiple pages,” she said. “That’s because it’s so importance to use the chemicals as intended.”

Attendees of the conference are recertified as pesticide applicators through the Department of Agriculture for the next three years, she said.

Strahan said the money generated from the conference goes toward education for members and scholarships for students interested in the turfgrass industry.

This year, Kacie Martin, a freshman at LSU from Franklinton, was awarded a $500 scholarship during the Louisiana Turfgrass Association business meeting.


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LSU head baseball coach Paul Mainieri explains the importance of good turf as he welcomes attendees to the LSU campus for the Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference in Tiger Stadium on Jan. 9. Photo by Johnny Morgan LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan discusses ways of controlling Virginia buttonweed, doveweed, dollarweed and lespedeza in turfgrass during the Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference in Tiger Stadium on Jan. 9. Photo by Johnny Morgan LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator Kim Pope discusses the importance of reading pesticide labels during the Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference in Tiger Stadium on Jan. 9. Photo by Johnny Morgan LSU AgCenter

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