(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 the EPA but indications are they will be available in 2019. This is part 3 of a 4-part series on the remarkable process of bringing new chemistry to your golf course.)
Roughly a decade ago, Revysol fungicide was a concept. In the years since, it has gone from a formula on a whiteboard, to the lab, to the field.
Now, superintendents are eager to see how BASF’s new DMI subclass fungicide performs in “live fire,” under real-world conditions, on turf with real golfers walking and riding on it.
Networking in New Jersey
Jamie Devers is the director of grounds at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J, around 20 miles west of midtown Manhattan. He started working at the club as an intern 19 years ago and has been there ever since. He assumed his present role in 2007.
Canoe Brook features 36 holes. The North Course dates back to 1901 while The South Course opened for play in 1924. Both have undergone extensive revisions through the years; over the last four-and-half-decades much of that work has been done by Rees Jones, working either alongside his father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., or on his own.
Devers is planning to do a test with the Revysol fungicide products at his facility beginning in late June, weather permitting. Prior to that, as is his custom with a new product, he’ll reach out to other superintendents in the region who have used it at their own clubs. “From the information we’ve heard and received, it’s been something we are definitely looking forward to if the field studies and the research proves what they’re hoping to get,” he says.
Devers often works with Dr. Bruce Clarke and his team at Rutgers University, who have been conducting trials with Revysol fungicide.
“When this was presented to us, it wasn’t a hard sell to help out, to get more real-world research on this product,” Devers says. “There’s only so much you can do at a turf center, but when you get it on a golf course and seeing the different stresses that you have, it goes a long way as far as making sure the product is good, does what it needs to do, and what it’s supposed to do. That helps us out in the long run.”
Devers is looking forward to seeing how effective Revysol fungicide is against dollar spot and summer patch. Current research conducted by BASF and universities indicates excellent control of dollar spot, summer patch and anthracnose.
Devers plans to apply the product on two fairways, one on each course. “The fairway we’re going to try it on (on The North Course) has notoriously been a very active dollar-spot fairway,” he says. “It’s interesting because it’s only one hole out of 36.”
Devers is going to apply in late June as he wants to see if Revysol fungicide lives up to the current research showing a clean record when it comes to not regulating or thinning turf. “Sometimes you can get into problems where if you have another growth regulator out there in the summer, it could be sometimes detrimental and sometimes nip the turf, if you will,” he says.
Devers also hopes Revysol fungicide will offer an extended application interval. “We’re looking to this as another chemistry that might be able to give us a possible 21- to 28-day spray interval,” he says. “The less we have to be out there with the sprayers the better as far as applications, and with an operation our size, 36 holes, that will help us out, not only with hopefully disease suppression, but also just labor with spraying.”
Obtaining information in Ohio
Rodney Robbins is the head superintendent at The Country Club at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. The 18-hole private facility is situated across the street from Muirfield Village Golf Club, the site of the Memorial Tournament. The golf course, which was designed by Jack Nicklaus, has been undergoing a renovation over the last five years that has included the reconstruction of every bunker on the course, the installation of a new irrigation system and the redefinition of several fairways.
Robbins, an Ohio native, is in his third year at the club after starting his career at Pinehurst and then spending a season at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, where he was responsible for, among other things, caring for some of the finest grass tennis courts in the world.
In his present position, Robbins is concerned less about dollar spot than resistance issues. “They over sprayed here in the ’80s and ’90s, so I’m dollar spot-resistant to all DMI fungicides,” he says. “They don’t work here; I don’t use them.
“So, we’ve had to use other products, more contact fungicides and the SDHI line of chemistries. It is fairly new, but it is being used a lot. But you can only do four (applications) of that a year and there are resistance issues.”
Research at Purdue University with Dr. Rick Latin the past several years has indicated that Revysol fungicide might have a new advantage in controlling DMI-resistant dollar spot. More research is being done to confirm this in the field.
Robbins describes his thought process when he’s considering adding a new product to his repertoire. “The first thing I think about is ‘Do I have a problem that I need a new product to take care of?’” he says. “Right now, my program works. I don’t have a lot of disease issues at all. Dollar spot, anthracnose, Pythium, I’m covered. So, especially as a new superintendent, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
But Robbins says he’s interested in learning more about both Revysol fungicide as a stand-alone (brand name: Maxtima®) as well as Navicon® Intrinsic® brand fungicide (a pre-mix blend of Revysol fungicide and Insigna® SC Intrinsic brand fungicide) because of the potential of achieving both disease control and resistance management with the same product.
He’s hoping that Revysol fungicide will “reset the clock” and give him a fresh start when it comes to DMI fungicides. “This new line is another chemistry class,” he says, “which is always important. There’s not supposed to be any resistance to this line.”
Robbins is also interested in finding out what application interval Revysol fungicide offers and whether it is compatible with other products he’s applying. “It’s a big ordeal to set a spray up,” he points out. “Can I mix this stuff in the tank with my other products and not have a compatibility issue?
“I’ll never put just one product in the tank, or very rarely. It’s so hard to go out and spray that you want to maximize your time and put as much in the tank to cover insecticides, fungicides, fertilizers, growth regulators, wetting agents. You’re putting six or seven products in the tank.”
Both Devers and Robbins are aware that by lending their experience and expertise to the study of Revysol fungicide they are not only enhancing the experience of their own members but also giving back to their industry by contributing to the ever-expanding knowledge base about the product.
Robbins is looking forward to seeing how well it works.
“I’m on the list to get, I think, an acre’s worth,” he says, “so I will fit it into my program. I’ll give them the back-nine tees or a section where, if I did have a disease break through, it wouldn’t be that big a deal.”
Robbins appreciates the support BASF provides if he has a question or needs help. “They’re my first call every time,” he says.
While Robbins, as noted above, is cautious about introducing new products into his protocol, he maintains an interest in learning about them.
“I’m always open-minded about new stuff, so I’ve got kind of an open-door policy with all my guys from all the different companies,” he says. “It doesn’t hurt to learn something new or to try stuff and when these products come out, they’ll give me an acre’s worth and I’ll find an area on the golf course where I can apply this product and do the Pepsi Challenge compared to what I’ve got now. That’s the best way to do it. Just put it out in the field and see what actually happens on your property.”
Devers embraces the idea of giving back to the game of golf and to his industry. He has the support and encouragement of his employers in that regard.
“We were approached to be a real-world study for Revysol (fungicide),” he says, “and my greens chair and my general manager said ‘Yes, let’s go ahead and do it.’ We’ve done research with Rutgers in the past and they are more than happy to try to help if it’s going to be a product that can be used not only here at Canoe Brook but within the industry.
“With Rutgers running the study, Dr. Clarke and his staff, we’re more than satisfied with how it’s going to go and the help it can provide for golf courses, throughout not only the Middle Atlantic region and the East Coast, but hopefully throughout the country.”
Devers notes if Revysol fungicide proves to be as effective as is hoped, it will provide a direct benefit to golfers.
“If we can get a DMI that has longevity in disease suppression along with the safety during the hot humid summers that we have in the Mid-Atlantic,” he says, “it would be another great piece to the puzzle in order to supply the best conditions we can for our membership.”
Part 4 of our series will focus on the final stage of the approval process.
Note: Any sales of the products after registration is obtained shall be solely on the basis of the EPA-approved label, and any claims regarding product safety and efficacy shall be addressed solely by the label.