Influence of Annual Bluegrass on Putting Green Trueness and Control of Weedy Poa Species in Kentucky Bluegrass and Creeping Bentgrass Turf
Rana, Sandeep Singh
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Annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.) and roughstalk bluegrass (Poa trivialis L.) are among the most troublesome grass weeds on golf courses throughout the United States. Herbicides for selective control of these weeds in cool-season fairways are limited and ineffective. Methiozolin is a new isoxazoline herbicide that controls annual bluegrass on putting greens and shows promise for possible weed control in fairways. Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) is among the most common turfgrass species used for golf fairways in the Northern United States and its response to methiozolin has scarcely been tested. A 2.5-yr field study was conducted at four Virginia locations to evaluate methiozolin efficacy for selective annual bluegrass and roughstalk bluegrass control in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) or Kentucky bluegrass fairways. Another study evaluated the response of 110 Kentucky bluegrass varieties to three rates of methiozolin. Annual bluegrass has long been presumed to impact putting green trueness, or the ability of the greens canopy to provide a smooth and directionally-consistent ball roll. Although much research has evaluated the impact of greens management on ball roll distance, no peer-reviewed research has evaluated how canopy surface factors, such as weedy annual bluegrass, will influence ball roll direction. Laboratory and field research was conducted to elucidate and overcome experimental errors that may be limiting assessment of ball directional imprecision caused by greens canopy anomalies. Techniques to minimize experimental error were employed in field studies at two Virginia golf courses to determine the influence of annual bluegrass on ball directional imprecision, bounce, and acceleration. Study results suggest that annual bluegrass patches in a creeping bentgrass putting surface can cause subtle increases in ball directional imprecision and bounce but several sources of error must be controlled before these effects can be measured. By using a mechanical putter to avoid directional errors associated with simulated-putt devices, selecting golf balls with balanced centers of gravity, eliminating legacy or "tracking" effects of repeated ball rolls via canopy brushing, and scoring ball direction 30 cm prior to terminal acceleration, we were able to detect an increase in ball directional imprecision of 8 mm m⁻¹ when balls rolled over a single patch of annual bluegrass compared to adjacent rolls on visually-pure creeping bentgrass. In herbicide efficacy studies, methiozolin-only treatments did not significantly injure creeping bentgrass or Kentucky bluegrass, reduce quality, or reduce normalized difference vegetative index regardless of application timings and rates. In general, fall applications of methiozolin reduced roughstalk bluegrass and annual bluegrass cover more than the spring-only treatments. At 1 year after the last treatment, methiozolin at 1500 g ha⁻¹ applied four times in fall at 2-wk intervals for two consecutive years controlled roughstalk bluegrass and annual bluegrass ≥85% and more consistently than other herbicides or treatment regimes. Spanning 110 Kentucky bluegrass varieties, a commercially-acceptable threshold of 30% Kentucky bluegrass injury required between 3.4 to more than 10 times the methiozolin rate needed for annual bluegrass control. Results indicate that annual bluegrass increases directional imprecision and bounce of golf balls rolling across a greens canopy. Methiozolin could be a viable herbicide for managing annual and roughstalk bluegrass in Kentucky bluegrass and creeping bentgrass fairways but weed control efficacy may be dependent on application timing. By measuring small differences in ball directional imprecision as influenced by greens canopy factors, future research efforts will aim to help turf managers choose appropriate greens management techniques.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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