- The labeled application rate range is 2.9 to 5.75 fl. oz. per 1,000 feet
- Sold in 2.5-gallon jugs
- No temperature restrictions
Newly developed Union Fungicide SC from PBI-Gordon Corporation is specifically formulated to provide excellent disease control on golf courses, residential and commercial properties, sod farms, and sports fields. Union is not yet available for sale or distribution. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency registration for the fungicide is anticipated for mid- to late-2019.
Testing has shown that Union is effective in the preventative and curative treatment of pythium diseases (blight, damping off, root dysfunction, root rot), brown patch, anthracnose, cool-weather brown patch, yellow patch, fairy ring, gray leaf spot, red thread, summer patch and rhizoctonia.
A flowable liquid, Union is a formulation of the active ingredients azoxystrobin and cyazofamid. The dual modes of action in the fungicide features a proprietary combination of chemistry found in FRAC Groups 11 and 21.
Union will be labeled for use on all cool-season and warm-season turfgrasses: Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescues, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, Bermudagrass (common or hybrid), bahiagrass, buffalograss, centipedegrass, kikuyugrass, seashore paspalum, St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass.
Other proposed features of Union fungicide include:
Representing more than 80 sod producers and vendor members, the Turfgrass Producers of Texas recently launched a new website to help consumers select the grass that is right for their project and locate a turfgrass producer nearby to supply the grass. The new website can be found at TexasGrass.com.
The website features a membership directory with an interactive locator map, turfgrass maintenance tips, and a library of videos on Texas turfgrass management. Information on membership, event registration, varieties of grass grown in the state, and research papers. The site offers tools for consumers, landscapers and turf industry experts.
The new website combines the content from two previous websites and three URLs, TexasGrass.com and TXSod.com, as well as directs visitors to GetTheGrassFacts.com to the video page on the new site.
“This new state-of-the-art website will serve as a resource for Texas consumers to learn about grass suited for the Texas environment, and help them make the right choice for their lawn. It also serves as a resource for our turfgrass producer members to stay in touch with our association,” said Brent Batchelor, executive director of the Turfgrass Producers of Texas.
The new website was developed by the team at What's Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations, a firm that specializes in turfgrass industry marketing and based in Mount Vernon, Wash.
The West Bay Club in Estero, Fla., has reopened its 18-hole golf course following an extensive $4 million renovation project. Led by architects Dana Fry and Jason Straka, the course renovation project began in April 2018 and took nearly eight months to complete. The course reopened in late 2018 for member and guest play.
The Fry and Straka team worked closely with a member task force to achieve the club’s goal of preserving the unique design aspects of the original Pete and PB Dye design, while achieving superb conditions and a playing experience that can be enjoyed by golfers of all playing abilities.
“We were honored to work with the West Bay Club to improve their overall golf experience,” Straka said. “Significant infrastructure improvements took place, and while those aren’t necessarily apparent to members and guests, players will certainly appreciate the fine playing surfaces they will allow. We are also pleased that the playability of the course has been improved for all skill sets. The course is still plenty challenging for the low handicapper but it is intended to be less punishing and a lot more fun. It is our sincere hope that these improvements will be enjoyed for many West Bay generations to come.”
Fry and Straka spent months planning and researching the renovation project, including tracking hundreds of rounds of golf. The ensuing shot maps provided the design team with valuable data, allowing them to remove approximately five acres of turf and convert it to native area without impacting the speed of play or playability of the course. Maps also allowed Fry and Straka to remove and/or reposition bunkers based on tee selection to help speed up play and present a challenging course tailored to a golfer’s handicap. Throughout the renovation process grass mounds were significantly lowered around the course to improve playability and course maintenance.
Prior to the renovation, a number of the greens at West Bay allowed for only a limited number of pin positions. During the renovations, all 18 green complexes were rebuilt and expanded allowing for a variety of easy, moderate and difficult pin locations.
Other changes made to the course include an improved drainage system and new turf grass. Natural wetland areas were also created on several holes.
West Bay’s original 18-hole golf course opened in 1999 and was designed by Pete and PB Dye. The member-owned private golf club and community is located on 868 acres adjacent to Estero Bay and bordering 500 acres of nature preserve and wetlands. Troon Privé, the private club operations division of Troon, manages the award-winning club and community association.
The 16th hole on the Stadium Course presents atypical agronomic and management challenges beginning when construction of the three-story coliseum and adjacent grandstands commences in early October.
“Tables, chairs, hospitality, floors,” director of golf course maintenance operations Blake Meentemeyer says. “It’s just non-stop, contractor after contractor.”
Veteran employees often ignore the daily shuffling around them, completing tasks such as mowing, spraying, raking and manicuring amid the work being performed by contractors. Once Waste Management Phoenix Open week begins, the scene becomes chaotic as 20,000 fans transform the hole into a fraternity party. Workers and volunteers access the 5,897-square foot green, 19,640 square feet of teeing space and 16,543 square feet of approach/surrounds via a pair of tunnels.
The trio of overseeded surfaces are maintained using John Deere walk mowers: the 180 E-Cut Hybrid on greens, 220 E-Cut Hybrid on approaches/surrounds and 260SL PrecisionCut on tees. The model numbers represent the width of cut, meaning green passes are 18 inches apart, approach/surround passes 22 inches and tee passes 26 inches. Mowing at three different widths creates stripes on verdant turf that dazzle tournament spectators and television viewers. “The striping we get using those mowers is consistent from hole to hole,” equipment manager Randy Waymire says.
Thousands of spectators awaiting the start of the play greet the crew and volunteers before Waste Management Phoenix Open weekend rounds. Later weekend tee times mean a later start for the crew and volunteers, thus the convergence of maintenance and mayhem on No. 16. It might be the most scrutinized mow in professional sports.
“I got to experience some of it last year,” says Waymire, who took the lead equipment position at TPC Scottsdale in 2017 after 15 years with Stotz Equipment, a John Deere dealer serving eight western states. “We are out there mowing and the crowd is already in seats. You have two mowers going, with one mowing one side and one mowing the other side. You just don’t take any chances there.”
Tournament week glamour is produced through advance grit. The process of burning stripes begins two weeks before the event commences, with workers using string to guide mowers, Meentemeyer says. Cold temperatures yielding frost limited the volume of mowing on the 16th hole as the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open approached. Frost is just one winter weather challenge on the hole. The hole plays west to east and the massive grandstand creates significant shade issues on the right side of the tee boxes.
“You love it when everything goes up,” assistant superintendent Bryan Pierce says. “But there are challenges. We’re in a coliseum. We’re not in an ideal environment for growing grass. Air movement is limited. Basically, a quarter of the tee doesn’t see one lick of sunlight. It sees indirect sunlight, but no direct sunlight. When we have frost, the whole right side of the tee complex can be frozen all day.”
Giant tournament crowds also bring logistical challenges. A police escort transports the crew and volunteers to the course before evening maintenance shifts, so the five-minute ride from the maintenance facility to the 16th hole can take as long as an hour during tournament week. Some workers revel in the scene; others request to work elsewhere on the Stadium Course.
When the tournament ends, heavily traveled spots, including the turf surrounding the 16th hole, resemble the aftermath of a severe weather event, Pierce says. By summer, the hole returns to its normal state: an unassuming par 3 stretching from 98 to 163 yards.
“It’s not overly complicated,” Meentemeyer says. “There’s some extensive bunkering protecting the green, but it’s a pretty easy hole if you think about it. The grandstands make this hole. It’s funny because our guests in the summer will give us a negative response in surveys saying we didn’t inform them that the stands and seating weren’t going to be up. They want it up year-round.”
Because TPC Scottsdale rests on Bureau of Reclamation Land and 16th hole is in floodplain, the coliseum must be disassembled following the tournament.
Guy Cipriano is GCI's senior editor.
(Editor’s Note: This year, BASF and GCI are working together to tell the story of how a new active ingredient is coming to life for the golf market. The idea is to help you learn the scope of the R&D, testing, investment and plain hard work that goes on behind the scenes of product development. The specific formulations are not yet approved by EPA but indications are they will be available in 2019. This is part 1 of a 4-part series on the remarkable process of bringing new chemistry to your golf course.)
Think back a decade. It was early 2009 and we were at the beginning of the worst recession in most of our lifetimes. The golf market had already been softening since 2001 and some industry critics were predicting dire things.
One of those predictions was that we wouldn’t see much innovation – particularly new chemistry — in our business moving forward. As the recession deepened, many budget-challenged superintendents had turned to cheaper post-patent products and there didn’t seem to be much hope for brand new products to combat specific diseases and manage resistance.
But despite the recession, the innovation at BASF never stopped. Their researchers identified a promising new molecule a decade ago that, after thousands of tests and a quarter-billion-dollar investment, is now bringing new turf compounds to life.
“We have two new products in the pipeline that, if approved, will both carry on that legacy of innovation and give superintendents a couple of pretty exciting new tools,” says Kyle Miller, BASF’s longtime Senior Technical Specialist. “We’re pumped to get them approved and get them out to customers who need them.”
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First let’s talk about how that innovation came about and what it potentially means to you.
The skinny version is BASF is simultaneously launching several formulations of a new fungicide in both the agriculture and turf markets – something unusual because most new actives get their start on the farm before ever moving to golf. The basic active ingredient, called Revysol, has been developed in two turf formulations: Maxtima, a stand-alone version of the AI, and Navicon, a premix combination of Maxtima and Insignia. The active in Revysol and Maxtima is mefentrifluconazole, an entirely new compound that offers both disease control and significant resistance management qualities.
So let’s rewind the tape and look back at how these new tools started as an idea on a chalkboard somewhere and eventually turned into field-ready tools for turf managers. To do that, we talked with both Kyle Miller and Dr. Renee Keese, BASF’s R&D Project Leader, to get a look at the remarkable process of bringing new products to life in 2019.
Q: Describe your overall role in the process.
Keese: My role is to begin characterizing the active ingredient specifically for turf or ornamental uses. We typically have some understanding of how it could work in corn, soybeans or wheat, and now we need to focus on our pathogens, application rates and timings for a superintendent. I help figure out what the directions for use will look like and put together the data package for EPA and state registrations, if they are needed.
Miller: As products are submitted to the EPA for registration, our group gets involved to help try to answer additional questions turf managers may have about a new product with research trials focused on practical use. We are also instrumental in training our sales reps, distributor reps and end-use customers.
Q: What do end-users – particularly superintendents – need to understand about how a new product comes to life?
Keese: Sometimes it’s serendipity, sometimes it’s a lot of work for a chemist to create what we are seeking. Revysol took several years and focused research to achieve this active ingredient and formulation.
Miller: They also need to know that the process takes nearly a decade from start to finish and a lot of steps have to be completed and gain approval before continuing. It’s also very costly.
Q: Can you characterize the size of the investment in the total process in terms of time, money and focus?
Keese: Over the course of eight to 10 years, we spend an average of $286 million to develop a new active ingredient. These two new turf products fit into this scenario. This chemistry has been my focus for the past six seasons!
Miller: Right. Superintendents are often amazed to find out a new product will cost in the range of $300 million to bring to the market. That’s not only a lot of money, but a lot of resources inside our company and in the field to make it all happen.
Q: What kinds of exercises or processes do you use to identify the need for potential new products?
Keese: We do have specific gaps in our portfolio that we try to fill, and then we hear from customers and sales reps with their “wish list” ideas and input. In this case the Revysol/mefentrifluconazole was specifically created to be a different DMI – keeping efficacy and turf tolerance top of mind. BASF was trying to make a good class of chemistry even better.
Miller: We really do a little bit of everything: focus groups, informal feedback from customers and field sales people, collaboration with the ag team ... plus having an experienced T&O group that helps identify needs based on years of experience.
Q: When you think about Maxtima, what was that moment?
Keese: After early screens with Maxtima I knew we had a good fit for turfgrass. The efficacy on Anthracnose was a big moment for me.
Miller: One of the issues with DMIs is their limitation for use during the summer months because of phytotoxicity. As we evaluated Maxtima, even at elevated rates we saw that during the summer, it had no negative effects on the turf. This is quite unique for this class of chemistry.
We decided to take it a step further and look at combining it with a strobi.? Given the diseases Maxtima controls and its other attributes, particularly, summer safety, we knew that a premix of Insignia + Maxtima was a natural to provide the increased disease spectrum and plant health benefits.
Q: How did you gain internal consensus that these new concepts were worth looking at?
Keese: Often we need to see how it is performing in early stage testing, to then piece together where we see the fit for a superintendent. If I can show marketing colleagues that we can control some of the key pathogens, at a low use rate, while providing excellent safety, they quickly become interested.
With the Revysol chemistry, strong anthracnose and dollar spot control were key identifiers for our discussions. The ability to rotate chemistry for resistance management was also important, with so many SDHI and QoI chemistries available.
Miller: Ultimately we felt like these products could fill an unfilled need for superintendents. Excellent control of key diseases like dollar spot, anthracnose and spring dead spot with excellent summer safety.
Q: What things have to happen before you ever put a drop of experimental product on a turf plant in the lab?
Miller: Sometimes what we do is initially driven by our crop counterparts so when they give it a thumbs up, we are eager to test it. In this case we were actually involved in the early screens, at least to know it wasn’t harmful to turf, and we were included in the first wave submissions to EPA. That gets us to market quicker.
Q: What barriers have historically stopped new concepts from coming to market?
Miller: Registration problems like an adverse environmental profile or mammalian toxicity can stop a product before it starts. But we also have to look at the cost of production, limited scope of control on the disease spectrum or just being just a “me too” product. There are lots of hurdles to overcome!
Q: What was important about each of these products that made them worth developing?
Keese: for me it was the high degree of efficacy and the safety to turfgrass species all season long. We saw this early on and it was really intriguing to us. On top of that, we didn’t see any phytotoxicity issues with ultradwarf bermudagrass, even when applied in the middle of the summer. The comparisons to standard DMIs were pretty telling.
Q: Final thoughts on why these products had such good potential they were worth the investment?
Miller: With many new SDHI’s on the market and no new DMI’s being introduced in over 15 years, these products will have excellent utility as part as an overall disease control program. Fundamentally we’re running out of DMIs and this gives that class new life. We think superintendents will love that.
Next Up: Part 2 of our series will focus on taking a concept from the laboratory to the field, including university testing and trials with superintendents. How does a new compound survive the rigors of real-world testing? Look for the next chapter