Best management practices highlight turfgrass conference

Johnny Morgan  |  1/10/2019 4:05:22 PM

(01/10/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — More than 240 professionals in the turfgrass industry from around the state heard the latest management practices at the annual turfgrass conference in Baton Rouge on Jan. 8.

LSU AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan, who coordinates the meeting, said they normally look at specific topics, but the past couple of meetings have expanded to look at a wider range of topics to provide greater appeal.

“This meeting was originally geared toward golf course superintendents and sports turf people, but about five years ago we started bringing in more lawn care professionals,” he said. “The topics for the meeting are generally determined by the guest speaker.”

This year the guest speaker was Greg Munshaw, University of Kentucky turf extension specialist, who discussed ways of improving the health of turf through proper management.

His two presentations covered the importance of thatch and compaction management and reducing the need for pesticides in the turf.

“My goal here today was to get across the importance of healthy soils through aerification,” Munshaw said.

Aerification is a mechanical process that creates air space in the soil to promote a healthy root system.

“The process has been around as long as there has been fine turf management,” Munshaw said. “It’s something that everybody in turf school learns about, but it’s not always practiced as often as it should be in the real world.”

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

“When dealing with pesticide labels, you’ll find that they are either mandatory, advisory or factual,” Brown said.

She told the group the pesticide labels are enforceable, which means they are the law and should be followed.

AgCenter horticulture agent Joe Willis discussed glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup herbicide, as a potential cause of cancer.

“When glyphosate is used according to the label, there is very little toxicity at all,” Willis said. “Even honeybees are not affected by glyphosate.”

This has been determined by research where the bees were fed concentrations of what would be in fields, he said.

LSU AgCenter plant doctor Raj Singh discussed the different ways to manage disease and disorders on golf greens.

“Disease is caused by a plant pathogen, but healthy plants have a defense mechanism and can fight against pest and pathogens,” Singh said. “Disorder, on the other hand, can be caused by any extreme weather condition, misuse of a chemical or overdose of a fertilizer.”

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry agriculture specialist Gene Cavalier discussed the new specialty crop grant designed to help in the eradication of feral hogs.

“We want people to know that hogs are not just a rural problem anymore,” Cavalier said. “They are now causing damage on golf courses, state parks and soccer fields.”

Cavalier said the grant will allow them to attend field days and provide information on best management practices for the control of feral hogs.

AgCenter irrigation engineer Stacia Davis Conger discussed the importance of using smart irrigation technology.

“Irrigation is needed more in the northern part of the state where average rainfall is around 44 inches while New Orleans receives more than 60 inches,” Conger said.

Smart technology is designed to schedule irrigation water is supplied at the right time and at the right amount to ensure minimal stress and yield loss due to tailwater runoff or deep percolation, Conger said.

Jack Marucci, LSU director of athletic training and founder of Marucci Bats in Baton Rouge, opened the meeting with the story of how he started the company by making wooden bats for his son to use.

“I started making the bats when my son was 7 or 8 years old because he wanted a wooden bat and I couldn’t find one that was his size,” Marucci said.

His bats are now used by about 15 of the top big league players and they are now the No. 1 bat in major league baseball, passing up the Louisville Slugger about three years ago, he said.

Strahan said during the past five years there has been an increase in lawn care professionals attending the meeting, and this year there was near-record attendance.

Oscar Richardson, operations manager of Spring-Green Lawn Care in Greenwell Springs, said he attends the meeting to gain new information and to get recertification.

“I also like to stay in contact with the vendors here because they often have some insights that I don’t have and I can invite them to come out and do workshops and seminars and even to help me with problems that I can’t handle,” he said.

Richardson said the Baton Rouge and Slidell branches of his company maintain a total of about 1,600 yards.

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AgCenter horticulture agent Joe Willis discusses glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup herbicide, as a potential cause of cancer at the annual turfgrass conference on Jan. 8 in Baton Rouge. He said when the label is followed, there is a very low risk of toxicity. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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Jack Marucci, LSU director of athletic training and founder of Marucci Sports in Baton Rouge, tells the story of how he started his company by making wood bats for his son to use when he was young. He was the opening speaker at the annual turfgrass conference on Jan. 8 in Baton Rouge. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter plant doctor Raj Singh discusses different ways to manage disease and disorders on golf greens at the annual turfgrass conference on Jan. 8 in Baton Rouge. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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