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Mobile lab diagnoses turf problems on the go

Media contact:

Debbie Johnson
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9183
Email: JohnsonD@missouri.edu

Photos available for this release:

Lee Miller, University of Missouri Extension turfgrass pathologist, looks at a fungal pathogen through the compound microscope in the Mizzou Mobile Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab.

Credit: Photo by Jessica Salmond

Lee Miller, MU Extension turfgrass pathologist, examines a grass sample from a putting green at the A. L. Gustin Golf Course in Columbia, Mo., to look for signs of disease.

Credit: Photo by Jessica Salmond

MU’s mobile turf lab is equipped with two microscopes to analyze and identify problems with turf samples.

Credit: Photo by Jessica Salmond

MU’s mobile turf lab began operation in 2012.

Credit: Photo by Jessica Salmond

Published: Thursday, June 5, 2014

Story source:

Lee Miller, 573-882-5623

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Mizzou Mobile Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab is a laboratory on wheels that can respond to turf problems on golf courses and sports fields quickly and effectively.

“The lab is outfitted with lab tools, microscopes and a workbench, which allows me to take a close look at the sample and identify the disease-causing agent,” said Lee Miller, turfgrass pathologist for University of Missouri Extension. “With the lab, turfgrass managers don’t have to wait while samples are shipped back and forth to a plant diagnostic lab.”

Many turf diseases can spin out of control if not treated in a timely fashion.

“We’re trying to keep a small problem from becoming a big problem by identifying and staving off disease,” Miller said.

Isaac Breuer, superintendent for the A. L. Gustin Golf Course in Columbia, says it’s important to respond quickly to turf problems during stressful periods in spring or summer.

“In the spring, we focus on dollar spot (and) brown patch as it gets warmer. In the summer we’re concerned with Pythium blight and Pythium root diseases,” Breuer said.

Miller says golf course superintendents are in a constant battle to keep greens disease-free.

He notes that while the typical home lawn is mowed at 3 to 4 inches, putting greens are mowed to a tenth of an inch, which puts the turf under a great deal of stress.

There are number of diseases that will take advantage of that stress, Miller said. During the hot summer months of June, July and August, turfgrass is predisposed to diseases that can occur rapidly.

“It’s important for golf course superintendents and other sports turf managers to be able to resolve their problems in a timely manner and to implement management practices based on a very accurate diagnosis,” he said.

Miller said the response to the Mizzou Mobile Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab has been overwhelmingly positive. The lab has been able to provide fast diagnosis and treatment, helping to keep golf courses and sports fields in tip-top shape.