Organic Vs Synthetic Herbicides for Athletic Field Weed Management

Dr. Dave Gardner, Professor of Turfgrass Science at The Ohio State University

One of the routine maintenance tasks for athletic field management is the control of weeds. This is not just for aesthetic purposes. Sometimes the weeds can result in reduced lateral shear strength and increased chance for athlete injury. Herbicides, when used according to the label, have been shown to present minimal risk to end users and are typically employed by athletic managers to selectively remove different weeds. However, we are increasingly seeing laws and regulations being passed aimed at reducing exposure to pesticides, including bans of pesticide use on public lands or on school property. In these areas the use of synthetic herbicides is not permitted and alternative management strategies need to be used. Continue reading

Organic & Synthetic Herbicides for Athletic Fields

Crabgrass (Digitaria sp.)on football field

One of the routine maintenance tasks for athletic field management is the control of weeds. This is not just for aesthetic purposes. Sometimes the weeds can result in reduced lateral shear strength and increased chance for athlete injury. Herbicides, when used according to the label, have been shown to present minimal risk to end users and are typically employed by athletic managers to selectively remove different weeds. However, we are increasingly seeing laws and regulations being passed aimed at reducing exposure to pesticides, including bans of pesticide use on public lands or on school property. In these areas the use of synthetic herbicides is not permitted and alternative management strategies need to be used. Continue reading

Emergency Field Repairs

By Pam Sherratt

It’s Friday night and it has been raining all day. Your high school football team has just finished winning a big league game and emotions are running high. After all the high fives and congratulatory hand shakes, you turn your attention to the field. What you see is a 100-yard mud hole. You start thinking about what needs to be done to prepare the field for next week’s game. So what do you do? Continue reading

Seeding During the Play Season

By Pam Sherratt
The official date for turf renovation in the Midwest is August 15th to September 15th. These dates offer the best opportunity for timely rains, warm soils, little weed competition and enough time for the new grass to get established before the first frost.
On athletic fields, there are several heavily-worn areas that will need constant over-seeding between now and the end of the playing season. Those areas include soccer goal mouths, sidelines, entry and exits points and between the hash marks on American football fields.

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Irrigating Soccer Fields Prior to Play

Some soccer field managers are asked to apply water just prior to a game. Why is that, and how much should be applied? During my own experience as a soccer player, and also as an agronomist, I have seen a variety of watering requirements from coaches, managers, players and grounds managers prior to a soccer game. Continue reading

Mowing Heights for Athletic Fields

By Pam Sherratt and John Street

Mowing is a turf stress. Removing leaf tissue reduces the turfs ability to produce photosynthate (sugars) that are needed for healthy growth and recovery, so getting it right is critical. Turfgrasses mowed too low have limited leaf area to sustain photosynthesis rates necessary to maintain good plant vigor.

In addition to leaf area, a direct relationship exists between the height of the turfgrass and the depth and total mass of the root system. Continue reading

Calcined Clay

Calcined clay is a popular soil amendment used on baseball infields for water management and soil conditioning. Clay is heated at a high temperature, about 1500 degrees Fahrenheit to expand the clay forming calcined clay. On baseball fields calcined clay is used to fill in infield depressions caused by cleats and smooth the surface to provide a true baseball bounce, which contributes to the safety of the field. Calcined clay absorbs water that can help dry a field after a rainstorm, and firm the surface. Continue reading

Selective Creeping Bentgrass Control

By Pam Sherratt

Creeping bentgrass is considered a weed on athletic fields and lawns. It produces a superb playing surface for golf and it has great recuperative potential, but it’s shallow roots and lack of wear tolerance make it unsuitable for most athletic sports.

Tenacity (mesotrione) is the first herbicide that results in rapid, easy to visualize reductions in weedy perennial grasses, including creeping bentgrass.  Best control, according to most research of creeping bentgrass, is achieved if three applications are made on 14-21 day intervals. Continue reading

Leaf Spot/Melting Out

By Pam Sherratt

Extended periods of cool, wet spring weather this year has triggered extensive leaf spot on lawns. This is a troublesome spring diseases on Kentucky bluegrass (especially common bluegrasses), fescues and other lawn grasses. Some leaf spot can be found on most home lawns in the spring, but it normally does not cause significant damage to the lawn. This year due to the weather conditions leaf spot has occurred and now in progressing into the melting-out phase. Leaf spot is caused by several different fungi. The fungus overwinters in the thatch layer or in small lesions on leaf blades. Continue reading

Dealing with Flooded Turf

By Pamela Sherratt

What can you do when your turf is flooded after all the precipitation occurs?

Submerged turf needs to be uncovered quickly and renovated, since turf will die if it is submerged under water for several days. It’s important to get the water off asap and pumps can help to do this.  Removing deposited silt and debris will be the next big task ahead. Brooms, rakes, vacuums and/or high pressure hoses can help to get the silt and debris off the turf. Tilling the silt into the top few inches of soil will cause all kinds of surface drainage problems in the future so the silt must be completely removed from site. Once the silt has been removed, evaluate the turf damage. If the field has been submerged more than a few days the grass will likely be dead so new turf establishment will be needed. Continue reading