Pests of tall fescue are best managed with an integrated approach using cultural, biological, and chemical controls (Cobb, 1987; Vittum, 2007).

Newly Seeded Turf


In the mid South, and for many other northern temperate climates, planting in late summer or early fall is preferred. In climates where winter temperatures may decline below freezing, a minimum of 12 wk between seeding and winter dormancy is desired to avoid winterkill (Hollman and Stier, 2003). Dormant seedings (winter) result in turf of lower quality than spring or late summer planting dates (Stier and Koeritz, 2008). When tall fescue seeds are planted in the spring, crabgrasses (Digitaria spp.) and goosegrass [Eleusine indica (L.) Gaertn.] can be competitive. Consequently, early spring seeding is preferred to late spring seeding because tall fescue seeds germinate at temperatures considerably lower than crabgrass (King and Oliver, 1994; Brar and Palazzo, 1997; Stier and Koeritz, 2008). The preemergence herbicide siduron (1-(2-methylcyclohexyl)-3-phenylurea; Tupersan, Gowan, Yuma, AZ) is safe to apply to newly seeded tall fescue turfs for the control of smooth [D. ischaemum (Schreb. ex Schweigg.) Schreb. ex Muhl.] and large [D. sanguinalis (L.) Scop.] crabgrasses, yellow [Setaria pumila (Poir.) Roem. & Schult.], green [S. italica (L.) P. Beauv. subsp. viridis (L.) Thell.], and giant (S. faberi R. A. W. Herrm.) foxtails, and barnyardgrass [Echinochloa crusgalli (L.) P. Beauv.]. The postemergence herbicide quinclorac (3,7-dichloroquinoline-8-carboxylic acid; Drive, BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany) can be applied at, before, or after planting to control these weed species after they have emerged from the soil (McElroy et al., 2007). Several herbicides including 2,4-D [(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid], MCPP [(RS)-2-(4-chloro-o-tolyloxy)propionic acid], carfentrazone [(RS)-2-chloro-3-{2-chloro-5-[4-(difluoromethyl)-4,5-dihydro-3-methyl-5-oxo-1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-yl]-4-fluorophenyl}propionic acid; Quicksilver, FMC Professional Solutions, Philadelphia, PA), and dicamba [(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)acetic acid; Banvel, Arysta LifeScience, Cary, NC] can be integrated into both spring and fall tall fescue seedling establishment programs to control many species of emerged, broadleaf weeds. Sequential applications of mesotrione [2-(4-mesyl-2-nitrobenzoyl)cyclohexane-1,3-dione], a benzoylcyclohexanedione herbicide, also may provide an effective option for chemical weed control during the establishment of tall fescue turf from seed once it is cleared for use (Willis et al., 2006).


Pythium aphanidermatum (Edson) Fitzpatrick (syn. Butleri subrm.) can cause damping off, a common disease of tall fescue seedlings. The disease is most likely to occur during hot weather (≥30°C [≥86°F]). Circular, reddish-brown spots 2.5 to 15 cm (1-6 in) in diameter may cause the turf to appear dark or water-soaked. Infected plants usually collapse and die quickly. Actively growing, purplish-gray, or white mycelium often is visible when dew is present. Injury may be more pronounced in drainage areas where the soil remains wet for several hours following rainfall or irrigation. Several fungicides, including chloroneb (1,4-dichloro-2,5-dimethoxybenzene; Teremec, PBI/Gordon), ethazole (4-amino-N-(5-ethyl-1,3,4-thiadiazol-2-yl)benzenesulfonamide; Koban, Scotts-Sierra, Marysville, OH), propamocarb (propyl 3-(dimethylamino)propylcarbamate; Banol, Bayer), mefenoxam (methyl N-(methoxyacetyl)-N-(2,6-xylyl)-D-alaninate; Subdue MAXX, Syngenta, Wilmington, DE), and fosetyl aluminum [aluminium tris(ethyl phosphonate); Chipco Signature, Bayer) are labeled for Pythium control (Vargas, 1994). Coating seed with a fungicide such as mefenoxam (methyl N-(methoxyacetyl)-N-(2,6-xylyl)-D-alaninate; Apron XL LS, Syngenta) or fludioxonil [4-(2,2-difluoro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-1H-pyrrole-3-carbonitrile] + mefenoxam (Maxim XL, Syngenta) also helps protect seedlings from this disease (Colbaugh and Metz, 1999).



Fig. 26-13. Fall armyworm larva. (Photo by F. Hale.)




Fall armyworms [Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith)] can damage newly seeded tall fescue turfs severely in late summer and fall (Fig. 26-13). Fall armyworm moths migrate northward to temperate climates from southern and coastal regions of the United States as temperatures increase in spring. This pest lays eggs in masses and often produces several generations every year. Caterpillars (larvae) feed on tall fescue leaves and stems.

In warm weather, a larva can go from egg to pupa in 2 wk. Although they feed any time, larvae are most active during early morning or late evening. In tall fescue turf, the aesthetic threshold is about 1 larva/0.09 m2 (~1 larva/ft2). Efficacy of insecticide treatment depends on timing, since large (3.8 cm [1.5 in]) larvae are very difficult to control (Tashiro, 1987a). Insecticides labeled for use in tall fescue turf include halofenozide [N-tert-butyl-N′-(4-chlorobenzoyl)benzohydrazide; Mach 2; Dow), bifenthrin {2-methylbiphenyl-3-ylmethyl (1RS,3RS)-3-[(Z)-2-chloro-3,3,3-trifluoroprop-1-enyl]-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate; Talstar, FMC Professional Solutions}, cyfluthrin [(RS)-a-cyano-4-fluoro-3-phenoxybenzyl (1RS,3RS;1RS,3SR)-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate; Tempo, Bayer Advanced, Bayer), carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate; Sevin, Bayer), permethrin [3-phenoxybenzyl (1RS,3RS;1RS,3SR)-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2,2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate; multiple brands], and spinosad insecticides (e.g., Conserve, Dow) (Sansone et al., 2004). Weight gain of fall armyworm may be reduced by endophyte infection [Neotyphodium coenophialum (Morgan-Jones and Gams) Glenn, Bacon, and Hanlin] of tall fescue (Clay et al., 1985, 1993; Hardy et al., 1986).


Endophytes are symbiotic microorganisms that live in plants (see Chapter 14). Endophytic fungi infest some grass species, and the association usually is beneficial to both the grass and the symbiont. Initial work with endophytes in turfgrass cultivars included documentation of aphid resistance by Breen (1993). Crutchfield and Potter (1995) studied endophyte free (E-) and endophyte infected (E+) tall fescue in turf plots infested with grubs of the southern masked chafer [Cyclocephala lurida (Bland)] and Japanese beetle [Popillia japonica (Newman)]. Chafer injury was more severe on E- than on E+ tall fescue. Grewal and Richmond (2004) reported that ergot alkaloids (see Chapter 13) strongly deterred feeding by Japanese beetle grubs and reduced their survival and gain in E+ tall fescues, although Richmond et al. (2004) found no benefit of endophyte against Japanese beetle grubs when the tall fescue was in competition with dandelion (Taraxacum officinale F. H. Wigg. aggr.). This study did show that E+ tall fescues had larger tillers and more below- and aboveground mass than E-. With time, this would make them more competitive. Specifically studying the influence of turf management practices on the alkaloids produced by E+ tall fescue demonstrated that decreasing the mowing frequency from weekly to biweekly increased alkaloid levels (Salminen and Grewal, 2002). Increasing the mowing height also tended to increase alkaloid levels (Salminen et al., 2003).


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