Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning to Cope Without the Tools of Yesterday

It appears as though we were only flirting with spring last week, as the mercury has dropped to a bitter -19 degrees C this morning.  At least the days are getting longer.....

One of the main goals for any Golf Superintendent in the "off-season" months, is to take advantage of continuing education opportunities and to gain as much knowledge as one can in preparation of the upcoming golf season.  I was fortunate to do so yesterday at the Highland Golf and Country Club in London, in which Bayer Environmental Science presented a one day seminar. 

We do have a variety of options when it comes to continuing education in the winter, and I have typically been hesitant to put a lot of merit in these types of seminars, as there will inevitably be some sort of sales pitch to promote their own products (kind of like going on a free 3 day all-inclusive vacation; you need to endure the harassing sales pitches for the entire 3 days!).  Anyway, yesterday's seminar had two very good talks regarding both dollar spot (our #1 nemesis at Sawmill), and Snow Mould controls. 

So yesterday's sales pitch was in regards to a new product that Bayer has unveiled for Snow Mould control.  Now before I go any further, I will give Bayer credit, and actually more specifically there Eastern Canada territory product manager Colin White (who happens to be born and raised in Sarnia), for not simply telling us that there product is the only product in the market worth using.  They presented us with a lot of research data showing that yes it worked, and very well indeed, but perhaps maybe its not the cheapest product, or even the most successful 100% of the time. 

But anyway, back to the reason of today's blog..........

In my time over the past few years here at Sawmill, I have attempted to keep the membership informed and educated with regards to all of the new developments in regards to government regulations, and procedures which are ever evolving in the golf course industry.  Of course we had the province wide pesticide ban two years ago, at which time golf courses were forced to enter into the IPM accreditation program to be able to continue to use pest control products.  At the same time of the implementation of IPM, there was a movement a foot to remove Quintozene (PNCB) from our tool chest.

Now Quintozene has been the staple of every turf manager's winter protection program for several decades.  Quintozene was used for the prevention of Snow Moulds, and was typically applied in this region, around the middle of November.  Snow Moulds can literally destroy a golf course over the winter if left open to the possibility of infection.  However, like all things in this world, we evaluate every tool and method in which we care for turf with.  There have been too many studies which show the negative environmental impacts of the use of Quintozene, and therefore found itself in the precarious position of being de-registered in 2010.  This left us Golf Superintendents to find another means to protect our turf.......

And so as we must do so often in the golf course maintenance world, we found a way to adapt, and carefully chose our preferred defence product for this winter.  As I mentioned last week after my first tour of the course, so far, so good.  It is a very difficult position to be put into, when suddenly you do not have access to the tools you have relied upon so heavily for a long, long time, and must learn to trust something "new and improved".

Am I against the de-registration of Quintozene?  Absolutely not.  Quite frankly, it was the one product that I applied every year, in which I genuinely despised to apply due to the possible health and safety issues which were associated with it.  Not to mention the fact that it persisted in the soil up to 6 months after application.....

Anyway, yesterday's seminar did include this talk on a new Snow Mould control product called Trilogy.  It is a product which has Canadian made and developed, and is only available in Canada at the moment.  The beauty of it seems to be it is just as effective as products such as Quintozene, yet has none of the adverse environmental implications,  In a world where we are all worried about the future, this is a good sign that the golf industry is trying to do its part.....

So time will tell what the implications are of the loss of Qunitozene, and whether or not Snow Mould will become a more difficult issue to handle.  Sometimes we lose products at our disposal due to health or environmental concerns, and we struggle to control the pests we used these products for (such as ants on our putting surfaces).   It is all a part of adapting to the hands we are dealt, and learning to be creative and efficient at the same time!

Thanks for reading today's novel!

Jamie

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