Site of US Open at Bethpage is reducing pesticide use

older courses in the Northeast. Rossi says that conducting research on reducing pesticide use is a challenge on any course, particularly one so busy. "Everybody talks about thinking outside the box. With our project, there is no box. No one has ever tried to do anything like this before," he says. "We've become so reliant on pesticide chemistry that to completely remove it is a formidable challenge."

One of the Green course's toughest putting-green pests is a fungus called dollar spot, which produces small, tan-colored, circular spots in the turf about the size of silver dollars. It is a common, easy-to-control disease when typical pesticides are available.

Without pesticides applied at this early stage, dollar spot has devastated greens in the past. Today, though, greenskeepers remove the morning dew from the greens every day to reduce the fungal infection, Grant says. They also are able to delay the use of fungicides by vigilantly monitoring the turf and only treating when and where necessary. "It's still a challenge," she says.

In another effort to check diseases, velvet bentgrass has been installed on holes 7, 10 and 15 as a test. Typically the grass -- with its velvetlike texture -- is used on more northern or maritime golf courses. It can withstand the close mowing heights required for a good putting surface but is much less susceptible to disease than creeping bentgrass or annual bluegrass, the more popular putting-green grasses in the Northeast.

Organic compost also has been helpful. During the winter, under the instruction of the turf scientists, the greenskeepers covered half the greens with organic compost to halt snow mold development. While preventing the fungus from growing, the compost fed the greens with nitrogen and micronutrients -- possibly making the greens stronger and more able to resist future mold attacks. In February the compost was removed from the greens before the grass started to grow.

Early in

Contact: Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.
Cornell University News Service

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