This photo demonstrates proper herbicide application with even spray dispersal and the lack of wind.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DOW AGROSCIENCES.

Innovations continue in weed control with advancements in technology, new chemistry and new modes of action. Recent product introductions offer sports field managers more options in the timing of applications relative to turf establishment, renovation and overseeding as well as to seasonal field-use schedules. They can trim labor hours and budgets with products targeting a broad range of both broadleaf and grassy weeds in a single application.

For information on new products and their performance on field conditions similar to your own, check with suppliers, with those on their cooperators list and/or with your regional university turf researchers. Verify that new introductions are registered for your state. Always read the product label and follow label instructions precisely.

Launched by FMC Professional Solutions (www.fmcprosolutions.com), Blindside contains the active ingredients sulfentrazone and metsulfuron-methyl. It delivers postemergence control of over 70 broadleaf weeds and sedges in established warm-season turfgrasses and in Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, providing transition zone flexibility.

Turf Product Manager Adam Manwarren says, “Blindside works through both foliar and root uptake for fast control. It also features a unique mode of action that works underground to stop the reproductive structures of target weeds from germinating. The extended soil activity provides significant reduction in future populations of weeds the season following application, saving turf managers time and money.”

Victor Sykes, owner-operator of Sykes Spray Service in Lakeland, Fla., provides residential turf care along with custom, contracted maintenance services for athletic fields. He first applied Blindside to a former soccer field, preparing it as the practice field for college-level lacrosse. He says, “The field was primarily Tifway 419 bermuda with a little classic bermuda mixed in along with all kinds of weeds. I used the highest rate of Blindside labeled for that situation, applying it with a 24-foot, tractor-mounted spray boom. Because they had only a short window prior to scheduled field use, the application was made in August with temperatures in the 90s.”

When Sykes came back to check the field following the application, he was greeted by an assortment of broadleaf weeds and sedges in varying stages of decline. “But, the turf looked great. Despite the heat, there was no turf setback or discoloration. The university’s turf manager was really pumped up about it,” he says.

Also, SquareOne, an FMC selective post- emergent introduction containing the active ingredients carfentrazone and quinclorac, is now registered in New York state.

Bayer Environmental Science (www.backedbybayer.com) is slated to launch Tribute Total in the second quarter of 2012. It is targeted for postemergence control of grassy weeds, including dallisgrass, in bermuda- grass and zoysiagrass. “This introduction rounds out Bayer’s herbicide portfolio,” says Matt Bradley, herbicide marketing manager. “It’s the last piece in the puzzle for a total weed control program.”

Additional weed coverage was added to the label of Specticle, a preemergence control for a broad range of grasses, broadleaf weeds and annual sedges in established warm-season turf. The active ingredient, indaziflam, is a cellulose-biosynthesis inhibitor (CBI) that acts only on the roots, terminating growth by inhibiting cell development.


This photo shows the results of FMC’s Blindside herbicide on buttonweed 28 days after application.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FMC PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS.

Users report it has shown excellent results for Poa annua control, but the interval for overseeding, eight months following application at the low rate (2.5 ounces) and 12 months at rates above that, limits its use on sports fields. Because it can inhibit root development, timing must be tracked carefully for sprigging or sodding too.


This photo shows buttonweed growth on the control plot with no herbicide application.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FMC PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS.

Control at the lower rates lasts three to four months, with up to eight months of control at the higher rates. So Specticle could be an option for areas with major weed infestation where limiting the weed competition might allow the existing turf to fill in without overseeding or sprigging. Bradley notes that Specticle is labeled in every state except New York for use on bare ground. He says, “That includes areas such as hiking-biking trails and gravel parking lots.”

A sports field manager suggested another use that resulted in time and money savings on his fields. Bradley says, “In his multisport complex, the baseball and softball fields are only used from late April through July. He applied Specticle on the warning tracks and skinned segments of the fields when play ended, eliminating the need for postemergence weed control in those areas.”

Supplementary labeling for FreeHand from BASF (www.basf.com) adds use on turfgrass, including athletic fields. FreeHand combines pendimethalin with dimethenamid-p (DMTA-P), the active ingredient in Tower, for broad-spectrum preemergence control of annual grassy weeds, yellow nutsedge and selected broadleaf weeds in cool and warm-season grasses.

The Imprelis issue

The sale, use and distribution of DuPont’s broadleaf control product Imprelis has been stopped due to tree damage associated with its use. The timeline, according to the EPA, follows. June 17, 2011: DuPont issues a cautionary letter to professional applicators. July 27, 2011: DuPont acknowledges tree damage associated with use of Imprelis to the EPA and establishes the “Imprelis Facts” website and hotline. August 4, 2011: DuPont voluntarily suspends sales of Imprelis and announces a pending return and refund program. August 11, 2011: The EPA issues the Imprelis halt sale, use and distribution order to DuPont.

According to DuPont, reported tree damage in the vicinity of Imprelis applications has been primarily to Norway spruce and white pine, but has extended to other species.

DuPont notes the website (www.imprelis-facts.com) will “carry the latest information about Imprelis and make it easier for customers to report problems.” The hotline (866-796-4783) was set up to facilitate problem reporting and to address questions and concerns. Information posted on the website includes details of the return and refund program; the process for reporting tree damage; guidelines for removal and disposal of damaged trees and excavated soil; and instructions for planting replacement trees.

Review the options

Most school system cool-season turf fields handle PE classes along with daily use by spring and fall student athletes, with many adding contracted league use in the summer. For warm-season turf, the use often also extends into winter months. The resulting worn turf and compacted soils make these fields prime targets for weed infestation.

For Cary Kazmierski, maintenance supervisor at Martin Luther High School in Greendale, Wis., knotweed was the main problem. It thrives on compacted soils and reproduces rapidly, overrunning his fields in the spring before his Kentucky bluegrass took hold. He applied Gallery specialty herbicide to his football game field in late October 2010, right after play ended for the season.

Gallery (isoxaben) from Dow AgroSciences (www.dowagro.com) is a selective preemergence herbicide labeled for established cool and warm-season grasses. It sets up a control barrier around weed seedlings that lasts up to eight months. As the seeds germinate, it disrupts and stops the root and stem development.

Without the weed competition, Kazmierski says, “Now the turfgrass root base has established itself, there are places for water to go, and it greens up much faster.” The field stood up to spring use and “looked better than ever” in the fall, so he targeted all 4 acres of fields for post-play applications this past fall.


Cary Kazmierski, maintenance supervisor for Martin Luther High School in Greendale, Wis., shows the results of applying Gallery specialty herbicide for knotweed control on the football field.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DOW AGROSCIENCES.

There’s been increased sports field use for PBI/Gordon’s (www.pbigordon.com/pro fessional) Trimec 1000 Low Odor Broadleaf Herbicide, Q4 Plus Turf Herbicide and Katana Herbicide, reports Dave Loecke, new products coordinator. The Q4 Plus reformulation of Q4 was developed to fill the void left by the ban of MSMA. Loecke says, “It combines postemergence control of both grassy and broadleaf weeds in one product.”

Coach Jerry Hill of Brooks High School in Killen, Ala., says, “We used Q4 Plus on our football fields prior to the 2011 season and got great results. We’re incorporating it into the maintenance program for all of our fields.”

Tenacity, from Syngenta (www.syngentaprofessionalproducts.com), provides preemergence and postemergence control for a wide spectrum of weed and grass species on the cool-season turfgrasses most important for sports field use. It’s only labeled for use in selected warm-season grasses. Use is increasing on sports fields because with the primary active ingredient mesotrione there are no restrictions for overseeding of established turf. On new seedings or re-grassing, Tenacity can be applied up to the day of seeding, with four weeks required for post-germination use.

Monument, with the active ingredient trifloxysulfuron, provides postemergence control of grassy and broadleaf weeds and all major sedge species in warm-season turf. Sports field managers are using it to remove overseeded perennial ryegrass for bermudagrass transition and for control of winter weeds, including Poa annua, in dormant, non-overseeded bermudagrass.

For municipalities and other entities seeking ways to trim labor costs, a product combining preemergence herbicides with fertilizer could be an option. Chad Fagervik, municipal sales manager for Agrium Advanced Technologies (www.agriumat.com/turf), suggests that combination with the company’s Spread it & Forget it fertilizer blend featuring polymer-coated, temperature-sensitive, controlled-release nutrient delivery for as long as six months.

Resources

Digital cameras, laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and high-speed Internet access have expanded the on-the-field diagnostic options for sports field managers. If you find a grass variety or weed you don’t recognize, take a digital photo of it. You can email the shot to a colleague or university turf specialist for identification, or you can check it out yourself by comparing the grass, weed or photo to the information posted on university or company-developed websites.

“Or you could use an app for that,” says Dr. Patrick McCullough, extension turfgrass weed specialist for the University of Georgia, based in Athens. There is a fee for “Turfgrass Management,” the continually updated program developed by the UGA turfgrass team that includes pictures, information and recommendations for identifying and managing turf weeds, diseases and insects. A free version, “Turfgrass Management Lite,” is also available, but doesn’t include the control recommendations or the pest control database. Both are available for Android devices, Blackberry models, or iPhones and iPads. At this point, McCullough says that 20 to 25 percent of the program users either download or upgrade to the full program. There’s also a fee for UGA’s Turf Management Calculator app. Introduced in 2011, it’s only available for iPhones and iPads. McCullough says, “It’s a time and money saver, whether estimating product or water use needs, calibrating sprayers or spreaders, determining mowing time or comparing product costs based on the percentage of active ingredients.”

With new product introductions in the works for 2012, sports field managers will have even more options available to customize their weed control programs.

The author is a contributing editor for SportsField Management.