Johnny Morgan | 1/10/2017 3:22:26 PM
(01/10/17) BATON ROUGE La. – More than 250 people heard the latest on research projects and management strategies to help them better care for turfgrass at the 2017 Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference on Jan. 5 at Tiger Stadium on the LSU campus.
The conference offered industry professionals a chance to gain information and network with vendors, said Ron Strahan, an AgCenter weed scientist who coordinates the annual event.
“Turfgrass is a huge, multilevel 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.”
One focus of the conference was how soil type affects turfgrass management.
“So often we spend such huge amounts of time looking at what’s above ground when we’re dealing with turfgrass issues that we tend to forget the importance of the soils,” said Tom Samples, extension turfgrass specialist at the University of Tennessee.
The soils in Louisiana are more diverse than in other areas of the country because of the soils that move in from the north by way of the Mississippi River, he said.
“In Louisiana, there are more than 200 soils series, which are similar to genus and species encountered in the plant world,” he said.
Kevin Croom, owner and general manager of the Ruston Country Club, said the conference is a great way for him to find out about new products and to network with others who share similar concerns and issues.
“I inherited much of the turf at the golf course, but the information received at this meeting will help in the maintenance of those grasses,” Croom said.
The cost of maintaining the turfgrass at the golf course is expensive, Croom said, “so any tips that I can get to help me save money are very important.”
University of Mississippi turf manager Brian McNeil explained the process Ole Miss has gone through to convert the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium from artificial turf back to natural grass.
“I’m not an expert in sports medicine, but I can tell you the players have really been happy with the change,” he said. “Coach (Hugh) Freeze is also excited about the change. He said, ‘We’re in Mississippi. Why shouldn’t we have natural turf like many other schools?’”
Joseph Nelson, sports turf manager for BREC parks in Baton Rouge, discussed ways the landscape industry can have a “million-dollar turf” on a shoestring budget. He said his budget has not changed in the past five years despite the fact he now has to care for 12 more baseball fields.
“What I have been able to do is use some of the tips and tricks of previous supervisors as well as some experimenting on my own,” Nelson said.
AgCenter plant scientist Jeff Beasley gave an update on his research.
“Some of the projects that we are working on include mowing height of centipede grass and pre-emergence herbicides and rooting,” he said. “Other projects are looking at Zoysiagrass cultivar shade tolerance and the benefits of slow-release fertilizer.”
AgCenter plant scientist Chris Mudge talked about ways to manage weeds in golf course ponds with the least amount of damage to aquatic life.
AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator Kim Pope outlined the procedures for safely handling pesticides and updated the participants on the new regulations forthcoming from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
One of the biggest changes this year is the requirement of training in-field pesticide handlers every year instead of every three years, she said. It’s also important to be aware of bee colonies and the possibility of drift.
“We don’t want you guys to find yourselves in a position where you have to spray at a time when the wind could potentially cause harm to beekeepers in your area,” Pope said.
Strahan said the money generated from the conference goes toward education for members and scholarships for students interested in the turfgrass industry.
“We try to provide information to the industry throughout the year, with this conference being the biggest event,” Strahan said.
Tom Samples, extension turfgrass specialist at the University of Tennessee, shares a light moment with LSU AgCenter “Plant Doctor” Raj Singh during a break at the Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference in the LSU Tiger Stadium on Jan. 5. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)
LSU AgCenter plant scientist Chris Mudge discusses ways to manage weeds in golf course ponds with least damage to aquatic life during the Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference in the LSU Tiger Stadium on Jan. 5. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)
LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator Kim Pope outlines the procedures for safely handling pesticides and provides updates on the new regulations forthcoming from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry during the Louisiana Turfgrass Association conference in the LSU Tiger Stadium on Jan. 5. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)