Scouting Report: May 21st

The Onwentsia Club battled gusty winds this week in northern Illinois.

This week there were three numbers that stuck out in my head. 87, 51, and 302. The maximum temperature this week recorded at the O‘Hare airport was 87 degrees on Tuesday. Very close to setting a new daily record. 51 is the max sustained winds recorded at the same weather station. 302 is the total number of yards in length that my hat flew down a fairway this week.

This was the warmest week of the year for many of us in Illinois. Temperatures were in the 80’s in almost every region of the state from Tuesday-Thursday.

Air temperatures in the Midwest at 6:00 pm Tuesday. Courtesy tropical tidbits.

The rise in air temperatures coupled with abundant sunshine allowed the soils to warm up as well. Monitoring soil temperatures are critical in managing turf and thwarting pests.

4 inch soil temperatures in St. Charles and Springfield. Courtesy: Illinois State Water Survey

The 4 inch soil temperatures scooted above 70 degrees for the first time this spring in the Springfield area. To the north, soil temperatures exceeded 65 degrees for the first time this spring.

The warm temperatures were conducive for the growth of new bentgrass establishments in the Chicago area. However, administering irrigation this week was easier said than done.

Temperatures for conducive for creeping bentgrass germination and growth this week.

Strong winds did help cool us off a little bit. Unfortunately, the winds also wrecked havoc on playing conditions. Despite the temperatures, a number of golfing facilities observed fewer rounds this week. The winds also kept blowing debris on putting green surfaces.

Gusty winds caused a lot of debris to pile up on putting green surfaces this week.

These helicopter seeds were a constant intrusion on our putting greens at the Sunshine course. Not only did the wind kick up unwanted debris, it also kicked up dust in the central areas of the state.

Warm temperatures, sunny skies, and strong winds dried out the top few inches of recently plowed fields. This kicked up a lot of dust which I could see during my travels on Tuesday. This dust lowered visibility and caused a number of traffic accidents in central Illinois.

Despite the strong winds this week, the number of pest reports were relatively calm. However, we did observe a few new reports.


A new one for me popped up this week.

Yarrow grown in a no-mow area.

Yarrow isn’t terribly problematic in no-mow areas. However, many courses are expanding the native areas and they are being established closer and closer to fairway or tee surfaces. As a result, sometimes weeds in these no-mow areas can become weeds in high-value areas.

Yarrow growing in a tee surface in close proximity to a native area.

There were about 20 individual yarrow plants that were springing up on a tee box in close proximity to the native areas. So far, the yarrow plants were tolerating low mowing. I’d be curious how much longer these weedy plants can continue to survive in the low-mow areas.

Now for some better news. A nice example of herbicide induced epinasty on dandelion after spring applications of florasulam.

Example of herbicide induced epinasty on dandelion.


Few insect reports came in this week. Glancing at our GDD models, it appears much of Illinois is now monitoring the emergence of bluegrass billbugs.

Growing degree day model for bluegrass billbugs. Courtesy:

As the name suggests, these insects cause damage on Kentucky bluegrass among others. Damage isn’t very noticeable until mid-summer, but those with a prior history of bluegrass billbug damage should monitor their development now. Here is an extension bulletin for more information on this pest.


This was a relatively slow week for foliar diseases. Gusty winds likely prevented dollar spot development. Some of our leaf spotting diseases did not erupt this week. Although, the wind blown spores produced by them likely carried long distances.

We did see a continuation of rings and patches on annual bluegrass/creeping bentgrass surfaces.

Yellow patch or brown ring patch on cool-season turfgrass. Courtesy C. Flick.

Now for some good news/bad news. The bad news, I diagnosed a bacterial disease in Illinois. The good news, it was on ornamental trees and not turf.

Symptoms of fire blight damage on an ornamental tree.

Fire blight was likely active on ornamental pear and apple trees. Fire blight is caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. This is the time of year when ornamental plants are most frequently attacked by diseases and pests. Many times, pruning off affected limbs is a good enough strategy. Other times, complete removal of affected plants is warranted.

Update from the CDGA research manager Ron Townsend

A new year of research is upon us and we’ve been busy coordinating trials and making our initial applications. While the weather has not been fully cooperative this week, we have made tremendous progress preparing our research.

This year we are very excited about the research being conducted at the CDGA. Our research this year will take aim on the management of several diseases including dollar spot, brown patch, anthracnose, fairy ring, and take-all patch. Other research projects include moss control and wetting agent programs.

A fairway dollar spot trial is one of the research projects that will be showcased at Kemper Lakes Golf Club.

There will be multiple opportunities to view our research in person. In collaboration with MAGCS and host superintendent Mike Paciga, the CDGA turf program will be conducting a educational field day at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on August 29th. We will also conduct a plot tour demonstration near the Midwest Golf House at a date to be determined.

The research we are conducting allows us to assist superintendents in the region and provide the most up to date information about new management strategies. The CDGA turfgrass program will be providing in-season updates on our research. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with a research idea or project that you are interested in.

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