The Effect of Fe-sulfate on Annual Bluegrass, Silvery Thread Moss, and Dollar Spot Populations Colonizing Creeping Bentgrass Putting Greens
Reams, Nathaniel Frederick
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Annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.) is the most problematic weed to control in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) putting greens. The objective of this study was to transition a mixed putting green stand of annual bluegrass and creeping bentgrass to a monoculture by using fertilizers and plant growth regulators that selectively inhibit annual bluegrass. A 25 year old loamy sand rootzone research green, planted with \'Penn-Eagle\' creeping bentgrass, with roughly 45% initial annual bluegrass coverage was utilized. The biweekly application of ammonium sulfate (4.8 kg ha-1) with treatments of ferrous sulfate at rates of 0, 12.2, 24.4, and 48.8 kg ha-1 and in combination with seaweed extract (12.8 L ha-1) or paclobutrazol (0.37 L ai ha-1 spring and fall; 0.18 L ai ha-1 summer) were applied March to October, 2011 and 2012. Plots receiving the highest rate of ferrous sulfate resulted in annual bluegrass infestation declines from an early trial amount of 45% to a final average of 20% but also resulted in unacceptable late-summer events of annual bluegrass collapse. The ferrous sulfate medium rate resulted in a smooth transition from early-trial annual bluegrass infestation of 45% to an end of trial infestation of 20% and had the highest putting green quality. Previous research has reported that consistent use of paclobutrazol can effectively and safely reduce annual bluegrass infestations. In this trial annual bluegrass was reduced to 9% infestation after three months of application. Two unexpected observations from this trial were that ferrous sulfate, applied at medium to high rates, significantly reduced silvery thread moss (Bryum argentum Hedw.) populations and occurrences of dollar spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa F. T. Bennett) disease. Dollar spot control with ferrous sulfate has not previously been reported in the literature, so additional studies were designed to investigate this phenomenon further. A creeping bentgrass putting green study was conducted to determine if sulfur, iron, or the two combined as ferrous sulfate decreases dollar spot activity. Ferrous sulfate resulted in the highest turf quality and suppressed S. homoeocarpa infection, even during high disease pressure. Fe-EDTA suppressed dollar spot infection as well as ferrous sulfate but quality declined to unacceptable levels during the summer, due to Fe-EDTA only. Sulfur did not affect or increased S. homoeocarpa infection, indicating that a high and frequent foliar rate of iron is responsible for dollar spot control. An in-vitro study was conducted to determine if agar pH in combination with iron concentrations affects mycelial growth of S. homoeocarpa. Results from this trial indicated that 5.4 agar pH is an optimal pH for mycelial growth. The 10 to 100 mg iron kg-1 concentration had little effect on mycelial growth at 5.0 and 5.5 pH, but increased growth at 4.5 and 6.5 pH. As the iron concentration was increased from 10 to 100 to 1000 mg kg-1, mycelial growth decreased or stopped. Our final conclusions are that seasonal biweekly foliar applications of the medium rate of ferrous sulfate (24.4 kg ha-1) safely and effectively reduced annual bluegrass infestation out of a creeping bentgrass putting green, while also effectively suppressing silvery thread moss and dollar spot incidence.
- Masters Theses