New products, new technology

There’s excitement in the green industry about new products and new technology for weed control, and now, as seldom before, sports field applications appear to be part of the equation.

PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVE TRUSTY.
Though weeds quickly infiltrate bare spots in heavy-use areas, such as this soccer goal mouth, situations such as this should never be allowed to develop.

New introductions

In October 2009, Bayer Environmental Science announced that registration had been received on Celsius, a postemergent herbicide for application on warm-season turf. Matt Bradley, manager, herbicides, and Laurence Mudge, technical service lead, presented product details, and Bradley noted that with the registration just received, state registrations were pending.

Mudge says, “Celsius features the proven power of dicamba along with two new active ingredients that have proven performance on the ag side, iodosulfuron-methyl-sodium and thiencarbazone-methyl. Combining proven performers from both the turf and ornamental and ag markets bring new synergies to turf care.”

Researchers point to the current crop of combination products, including Celsius, as a growing trend toward a “one-stop shop,” where one application targets a broad range of broadleaf and grassy weeds. Mudge says that Celsius has both contact and systemic action, attacking weeds through the shoots and roots, and additional soil activity provides a barrier for up to 60 days after application.

Testing continues to identify tolerance among turf varieties and cultivars, but, to date, among the bermudagrasses frequently used on athletic fields, Tifway 419, Common, Tifsport, Discovery, Celebration and Sahara are listed. A key factor for sports field managers, according to Mudge, is the flexibility of application time. Because Celsius can be applied at high temperatures with no phytotoxicity, and applications can be made later in the season after bermudagrass fields have gone through the prime growing season for recovery from the stress of early-season play.

In August 2009, PBI/Gordon and ISK (Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd) of Osaka, Japan, announced an agreement to market Katana Herbicide in the U.S. professional turf management industry. The label is held by ISK’s U.S. subsidiary, ISK Biosciences Corporation, headquartered in Concord, Ohio.

Katana contains flazasulfuron, a fast-acting sulfonylurea herbicide compound. The companies say the product “provides both foliar and root uptake and, like other sulfonylurea products, is effective at very low rates. Katana will be marketed for sedge, broadleaf weed and grass weed control, as well as a ryegrass transition-aid product for bermudagrass, zoysia grass and centipedegrass turf.”

Though the timing has not been announced, Katana was undergoing extensive cooperator trials during 2009 in preparation for nationwide distribution for the 2010 season.

Dr. Patrick McCullough, extension turfgrass weed specialist for the University of Georgia, based in Athens, has been working with Katana for the last year, and reports, “We’ve seen very good take-out of perennial ryegrasses and Poa annua in warm-season grasses.”

His comments on the test results confirm what initially drew PBI/Gordon’s interest to the product, the speed of ryegrass control for transition. Doug Obermann, product manager for Gordon’s Professional Turf and Ornamental, says, “That’s what everyone is looking for, fast, effective control. Katana delivers that and will be a good addition to our other ProForm products.”

McCullough adds, “We’ve worked with Katana on seashore paspalum for seedhead suppression and clipping management with very good results. We’re also looking at it in combination with the PGR Primo.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF BASF.
Though currently labeled for use only on golf course turfgrass or ornamental landscape management, Tower herbicide is performing well in testing for potential labeling for sports fields.

Though not yet labeled for use on sports fields, Tower, a broad-spectrum preemergence herbicide with the new active ingredient dimethenamid-p (DMTA-P), is marketed by BASF. It is currently labeled for use on golf course turfgrass and ornamental landscape management, and McCullough says it is performing well in testing for potential labeling for sports field applications. “We’re seeing good activity on weeds like goosegrass, summer annual broadleaf weeds and annual sedges with safety for the bermudagrass when applied at the time of sprigging,” he says. Further research is needed in applications for cool-season turfgrasses. While it’s not safe for application at the time of seeding, some of the testing is focusing on the potential for a reduced time interval between seeding and application.

McCullough adds, “It’s a little weak on crabgrass and has been used in combination with pendimethalin for broader control in ornamental landscapes. Further research is looking at combining those two active ingredients for weed control in turf.”

The MSMA issue

The EPA’s final decision on the use of organic arsenical herbicides, issued in April 2009, puts sports turf maintenance, commercial turf and residential turf in the same category, with the earliest restriction dates. Any product containing the postemergent grassy weed control MSMA (monosodium methanearsonate) will no longer be sold after December 31, 2009. Product in storage after that date can be used for those applications only through December 31, 2010. For golf courses and sod farms, the no-sale date is set for December 31, 2012, with some restrictions set on usage in specific instances during that period. Stored product usage is extended through 2013.

Web resources

With so many sports field managers tapping into new technology, it’s not surprising to find suppliers and university turf and ornamental departments posting their data online for easy access. Field managers can check out the state and regional university postings and connect with those most applicable to their programs. Some postings, such as the University of Massachusetts UMass TurfTalk (www.umassturf.org) and The Ohio State University Buckeye Turf (www.buckeyeturf.osu.edu) offer the option to subscribe for e-mail notices on management issues. OSU’s SportsNotes, found on the Buckeye Turf site, focuses specifically on sports turf management, including weed control.

Obermann says that PBI/Gordon offers weed control options at www.weedalert.com. By clicking on “weed information,” you will find a full weed listing broken down into western, north central, northeastern and southern weeds. Another click brings up the U.S. map with listings for each state divided by zones, each giving preemergent-ready and postemergent-ready headings follow by listings by weed, month and zone. Each category gives information on specific weeds, including germination dates, and then outlines cultural control/herbicide timing and Gordon’s product suggestions.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PATRICK MCCULLOUGH.
The Turfgrass Management application, developed by the University of Georgia, became available in August 2009 through the iTunes Application Store.

There’s an app for that

One of the newest technologies, a downloadable application for mobile devices, has been developed by a team of specialists in turfgrass science at the University of Georgia, including McCullough. The application, called “Turfgrass Management,” became available in August through the iTunes Application Store for iPhone users, with BlackBerry users the second targeted market.

According to McCullough, it’s a comprehensive program that contains pictures, information and recommendations for managing turf weeds, diseases and insects. He says, “If a sports field manager discovers a weed, he or she can pull up the database of photos on the spot to identify it. Pictures of most species include files of the entire plant, ligule, seedhead, stems and leaf characteristics.”

Once the weed is identified, the turf manager can further explore the information about it and even explore control option recommendations.

McCullough says, “We’re continuing to expand the database to include new products, trying to get everything that’s out there into the system. The good thing about this technology is that if there are any changes—label amendments or current issues that need to be addressed—they can be addressed in real time.”

The author is a contributing editor for SportsField Management.