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Updated: 41 min 50 sec ago

Ipswich (MA) athletic field funding at issue

September 1, 2015

The Open Space Committee in Ipswich, MA recently postponed a vote on how to fund athletic-field improvements after a two-hour debate.
The debate centered on two different bond proposals.
One proposal would alter the existing open-space bond to include improvements to existing athletic fields.
The second proposal would create a new, $800,000 bond for existing athletic fields and improvements to Jack Welch Stadium and reduce the open space bond cap by $800,000.
The current open space bond has a $15 million cap, with $6 million still unspent.
Open Space Committee co-chairman Wayne Castonguay said the final vote would take place in two weeks.
Two current selectmen and two former selectmen attended the meeting as well as School Superintendent William Hart, School Committee member Carl Nylen, and ReCreation and Culture Department director Kerrie Bates representing the Ipswich Playing Fields Committee.
The debate centered on the question: Should open space money be used for the development of fields on property that was not bought with open-space funds? To do that, the Open Space Bond Authorization of 2011 would have to be amended at fall Town Meeting.
The 2011 bond authorization says that a priority should be placed on finding open space suitable for playing fields. Money should be spent creating the fields. As of now, no land suitable for fields has been found.
The bond authorization also limits “development and construction of athletic fields on real estate” purchased for athletic fields.
Hart said that for four years, the town has looked for open space for playing fields and it hasn’t found any and urged the town to meets its “obligation to fund athletic fields.”
Selectman Chairman Nishan Mootafian said “if not a dime is put toward athletic fields, then the intent of the bond will not be carried out.”
The Jack Welch Stadium field as well as the Doyon School fields is in question. The stadium project to build a turf field could receive $800,000 from open-space funds and updating the Doyon fields, $200,000.
The $2.32 million Welch Stadium project includes: $1.65 million for the turf field, $351,000 for the scoreboard and track timing device and $495,000 for a building to house a concession stand, locker rooms and bathrooms. Lynx System Developers has donated $275,000 toward the Welch Stadium improvements.
Plans call for to installing an irrigation system and for regrading and reseeding the Doyon fields.
Of the $2.32 million, a Payne Grant or a large Feoffee grant, awarded by the School Committee, would contribute $132,000, youth sports, approximately $30,000 and private donors, $910,000
By the end of the meeting, there were two competing funding proposals. One proposed by Town Manager Robin Crosbie and the other, by some members of the Open Space Committee and former selectmen Jim Engel and Pat McNally, who took part in the birth of the Open Space Bond in 2000.

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STMA Field of the Year entries due October 15

September 1, 2015

Now is the time to prepare your application for the 2015 Field of the Year award. Applications are due to STMA Headquarters by midnight on October 15. There are no major changes to the application form from last year. Be sure to capture photos of your field in all seasons and conduct four PCIs, per the instructions. Good luck!


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White grub control update

September 1, 2015

Peak activity periods for adult scarab beetles are now passed, and that means that annual white grub season is upon us. If you are faced with limited conventional options for managing white grubs consider using entomopathogenic nematodes or fungi (EPN, EPF) to keep grubs in check.

All white grub larval stages are susceptible to entomopathogen infection, but susceptibility decreases by as much as 40-60% as grubs mature. As a result, entomopathogen-based products should be applied as soon as possible once white grub eggs hatch and larvae are detected in soil. At present, most annual white grubs, including Japanese beetle, European chafer, and Oriental beetle, are either still in the egg stage or have progressed to first or second instar larvae, so mid-to-late August is the time to apply entomopathogen- based products to areas with known chronic infestations or to get out there and begin scouting for new white grub populations.

Many entomopathogens are available commercially for use as a biocontrol against insect pests, however care should be taken to select the right product for the pest at hand. Products containing the entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae and the nematodes Steinernema feltiae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora have all been shown to cause mortality in white grubs, but H. bacteriophora in general shows the greatest efficacy. Entomopathogenic nematodes are also the only biological control product not registered by the EPA, and are thus available for use on NY school grounds.

For more information on instructions and considerations for using entomopathogens to control white grubs in turf visit or consult the 2015/16 Cornell—from Dr. Frank Rossi’s blog, shortCUTTS

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Profile of new Little League World Series groundskeeper

September 1, 2015

If you watched any of the Little League World Series Aug. 20-30 — on TV or in person – you quickly noticed the high quality of the fields at both Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium, in South Williamsport, PA.

Like many of the highest-profile sports playing surfaces around the world, they have been entrusted to a Penn State turfgrass science or turfgrass management graduate. New Little League International groundskeeper Rob Guthrie is a 2007 graduate of the turfgrass management program in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Guthrie’s professional journey to South Williamsport, about 130 miles northwest of Philadelphia, is unique, to say the least. After graduating from Penn State, he worked as a spray technician at a Pennsylvania golf resort and conference center, followed by jobs as assistant golf course superintendent at two Pennsylvania country clubs.

Read it all here

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Groundskeeper faces different issues in WV

August 27, 2015

Like “Underwater Firefighter” or “Bald Hairstylist,” “Artificial Turf Groundskeeper” sounds like the sort of job that, by its very definition, shouldn’t exist.

If the grounds are artificial, what is there to keep?

This question isn’t as existential as it seems, which I learned firsthand last month while visiting brand-new Monongalia County Ballpark. Located in Granville, just outside of Morgantown, Monongalia County Ballpark houses the New York-Penn League’s West Virginia Black Bears as well as West Virginia University’s Big 12 baseball program. With the exception of the clay pitcher’s mound, the entirety of the Monongalia County Ballpark playing field is synthetic.

Read it all here

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Be Spartan Green commitment extends to fields at Michigan State

August 27, 2015

A number of projects coming out of Michigan State University’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics are ensuring all of the university’s natural and artificial turf surfaces are Spartan-ready.

Though Spartan Stadium receives special attention before and throughout the fall months, the baseball and soccer fields as well as the grounds at the track and the golf green receive attention year-round.

“We take full advantage of the technology that’s available today like moisture and temperature sensors,” says Amy Fouty, Athletic Turf Manager at Michigan State University. “We strive to keep the campus beautiful, safe and playable. We have a great team — all MSU-educated — and can handle just about anything.”

Read the rest here


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B.C. Place turf contract went to highest bidder

August 27, 2015

An evaluation by PavCo’s bid committee gave Polytan LigaTurf distributor Centaur Products just 5.41 out of 10 for its proposed price. Competing company FieldTurf’s bid got a 10 out of 10, followed by AstroTurf Canada (8.78) and UBU Sports (8.21). The price evaluation (no bids were shown in actual dollar amounts) was worth 12.5 percent of the overall tally by the three-member bid committee, B.C. Place operations director Brian Griffin, PavCo finance director Kim Campbell, and consultant Robert Johnston.

Read it all here

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Act Global purchases new USA production plant

August 27, 2015

Act Global has moved its USA manufacturing headquarters into a new 210,000 square foot facility in Calhoun, Georgia.

“We are reinvesting our success back into the company,” said John Baize, co-owner of Act Global. “We are committed to servicing our customers, growing our business and constantly innovating to serve the market in new and better ways.”

The expansive facility will have capacity for a research and development laboratory, state-of-the-art equipment, and additional production volume and storage. It can also facilitate plant tours and customer events, with additional office space and large conference areas.

“We have exciting plans underway for the new building and for the direction of Act Global,” said plant manager Steve Oswalt.

Oswalt has worked with Act Global for more than nine years, and was instrumental in managing the transition of equipment, operations and personnel to the new space. The scope of moving an entire manufacturing facility is no easy task –just one synthetic turf tufting machine can weigh as much as 35,000 pounds, and is a highly specialized piece of precision equipment.

The company is now operating fully out of the new space, with artificial turf production for sports (Xtreme Turf), landscape (Xtreme Lawn), aviation (AvTurf) and landfill (LiteEarth). Each market has a unique set of challenges, needs and opportunities, driven by increased urbanization, lack of water and heightened desire for sports and leisure activity, which requires continual innovation to provide better and higher-performing synthetic turf systems.

Act Global does business in more than 70 countries, and maintains additional manufacturing in Netherlands and Asia to serve its growing customer base. For more information, visit


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49ers turf still a topic

August 25, 2015

Levi’s Stadium’s troubled turf Like a lot of people who move down here from the city, the San Francisco 49ers wanted to go big — McMansion Big — so with typical suburbanite-in-transition restraint, they built themselves a $1.3 billion house.

But they didn’t get the lawn right.

So on Sunday, when the 49ers kick off their second year at Levi’s Stadium with a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, instead of the scrutiny being focused entirely on new head coach Jim Tomsula or on quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s ability to read a defense, all eyes will be on the grass. Alas.

After 16 football games, one monster truck rally and last week’s two Taylor Swift concerts, Jim Mercurio, the 49ers’ beleaguered vice president of stadium operations, was having trouble keeping count of how often his grounds crew had fit the field for what amounted to a new toupee.

“Original, plus four resods. Right?” he asked another team official last week as workers rolled out yet another new field for the 2015 NFL season. “Total of five?”

Even the team conceded that it botched the initial installation of the field, and while a look around the NFL indicates no shortage of troubled turf, the 49ers appear to be replacing theirs more frequently than other stadiums.

There are nearly as many theories about what’s wrong with the 49ers’ field as there have been divots flying through the air since the team’s first game last season: from too many non-football events killing the grass to the turf not being properly prepared by the sodbusters who grow it. The team was so concerned that it started dispatching its own grounds crew to the Central Valley to better tend its turf.

“It’s never the grass’s fault,” said Henry Wilkinson, a renowned turf expert who has built the playing surfaces at Boston’s Fenway Park, Seattle’s Safeco Field and many other stadiums. “It’s the management.”

The 49ers acknowledge their eagerness to accommodate an ambitious schedule of no football events — all of which helps pay for the stadium — contributes to its frequent turf turnover. Yet even among the NFL’s other multiuse stadiums with natural turf, few allow as many events sure to beat up the playing surface.

The Tennessee Titans play in Nissan Stadium, which hosts the Country Music Awards every June, but the team usually does only one full resod per year. When the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Heinz Field was voted the worst playing surface in the NFL by players during the 2010 season, it was resodded twice. Last year, Soldier Field in Chicago, the home of the Bears, was resodded at least three times during the season — once after hosting an international rugby match.

Levi’s first field — installed at a cost of $1.4 million, using a Bermuda grass so state of the art that you couldn’t even find it growing in Bermuda — was considered such a hazard to Niners players that a public practice in front of 10,000 fans had to be halted during training camp last year. That grass was ripped out and replaced with a temporary fix. By the time that field was taken up and replaced with yet another acre and a half of pristine turf, news helicopters were hovering overhead to document the team’s futility.

That base was rebuilt with a new mixture that gave the field more structure, but every divot after that played into the storyline of a billion-dollar stadium with a two-bit field. “All of us felt like, ‘Oh, God, is this going to turn into Turfgate or Sodgate?’” Mercurio recalled.

The offseason didn’t improve matters. Two weeks ago, the Niners were forced to cancel another preseason practice — this one for 20,000 fans after more grass went airborne.

With the NFL ready to pull out all the stops for Super Bowl 50 — the league’s golden anniversary party, coming to Levi’s Stadium in February — the Niners are eager to prove that their new home isn’t cursed with a banana peel for a field.

Mercurio said the team is planning on performing at least six installations of fresh sod this year — Wilkinson estimates each one costs about $70,000 — probably only one of those during the NFL regular season. “It’s just lawn care on steroids,” Mercurio said.

And with that, he plopped two pieces of sod on a table in the stadium’s Brocade Club, like a decorator pulling out fabric swatches. One was from the field that workers were pulling up last week at that very moment, and the other was taken from sod just unloaded from flatbed trucks. Both were a strain dubbed Bandera Bermuda, and Mercurio would only say that the new field was not from the Niners’ original provider, West Coast Turf Farm, in Merced County.

The team now maintains more plots than a graveyard, and some of them continue to be grown at West Coast Turf, which declined to comment on the 49ers’ problems.

Mercurio didn’t say where the most recent batch of defective sod came from, but it lasted little more than a month, through two professional soccer games, a high-school football all-star game, the Swift concerts and a private event hosted by Cisco for 40,000 employees and friends. By the time the 49ers started practicing on it, the turf looked like the “before” picture in a Hair Club for Men commercial.

“What we started to see was that a cleat would tear the grass,” Mercurio said, “then scalp it off.”

This “scalping” didn’t seem to unsettle the 49ers players, who would only tacitly acknowledge it even existed.

“I don’t worry about it,” Kaepernick said at practice last week. “I’ve played on worse stuff than that growing up.”

Added safety Antoine Bethea: “As players, we just go with the flow. If we’re told to do something, that’s what we gotta do.”

The repeated failure of the 49ers’ grass raised another theory that NFL players have simply grown too big for natural turf to withstand the pounding. “When you get 300 pounds moving left to right, the ability to withstand the shear forces starts to push the limits of the numerous fragile components of a plant,” Wilkinson said. “The forces exerted on the turf plants are unbelievable.”

As one of those 300-pound loads, Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone thinks Levi’s Stadium has been unfairly singled out. “After you beat the crap out of a field, of course it’s going to be torn up,” he said. “It’s a field, it’s got white lines, and between those lines bad things happen. I don’t know why people outside the team are complaining about it. If we don’t have a problem, why do they mind?”

It was the very public failure of the team’s first field in its new home that made every new installation of sod appear to be part of an unrolling catastrophe. Mercurio believes the narrative of field failure was rooted there, and he points out that the first turf came apart because the 9-inch base of subsoil contained too much sand. “It was almost like putting a towel down at the beach and seeing the towel shift” when you stepped on it, he said. “That’s what it was doing to us on the field.”

When the grass began coming up again this month in training camp, the team met with consultants, studied sod samples, then concluded there was a problem with the stolons. Stolons are horizontal shoots of grass that live above the soil, between the roots and the blades of green stuff. Bermuda grass comes not from seeds, but stolons that are chopped up and spread like mulch.

Mercurio determined that the 49ers’ stolons were getting too “mature,” weakening the sod’s staying power. “That means that somebody wasn’t necessarily maintaining the field as much as we’d like at the sod farm,” he said. “That’s where we feel the failing was taking place in that particular plot. It wasn’t maintained, shall we say, to our standards.” So he began dispatching members of the stadium’s grounds crew to the sod farm to prune the grass through a method known as “verticutting.”

Wilkinson, who has never inspected Levi’s field, suspects the 49ers’ troubles are not over. “You don’t verticut before you harvest,” he said in a phone interview after hearing Mercurio’s diagnosis. “That makes it weak because you’re cutting its tensile strength. It’s stupid.”

He also was startled to learn that the team was still using West Coast Turf Farm as one of its growers. “Any time a customer tells a producer how to grow his grass,” Wilkinson said, “there’s something wrong with that. The fact that they’re still using the same grower tells me they’re not really upset with him.

“When people expect grass to do something it can’t do, or they don’t manage it properly, the grass is going to tell them in a heartbeat, ‘You screwed me over.’”



Categories: test feeds

Turf war will keep Drogba out of BC Place

August 25, 2015

There won’t be any Drogba drama at BC Place tonight. Toe-ld you so, say the cynics.

And what’s going to happen a month from now when New York City FC is due in Vancouver to face the Whitecaps? Will Pirlo pirouette away from the plastic grass? Will Lampard come up lame days before the match?

A field of dreams it isn’t down there on False Creek. In this case, the operative phrase is this: Lay it without real roots and they won’t come — at least not the big-ticket golden oldies seeking to protect their toes and hamstrings by staying off ersatz grass.

Didier Drogba, the 37-yer-old former Chelsea legend, signed to great fanfare and fawning adulation in Montreal this summer, won’t be with the Impact on Wednesday when they face the Caps in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final.

Read about soccer start sitting out game on turf here

Categories: test feeds

SAFE instructional video on baseball and softball fields

August 25, 2015

The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE) – with the support from the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) – introduces its newest instructional video, providing the basics to creating safe and playable baseball and softball fields.

The complimentary video, titled Baseball and Softball Field Inspection, highlights recommendations for sports turf managers when maintaining natural grass, artificial turf and constructed soil surfaces.

SAFE is the charitable arm of STMA, the professional association for 2,600 men and women who manage sports fields worldwide. Its instructional series, titled “Sports and Recreation Fields, Safety First,” released its first three videos in April: Natural Grass Field Safety, Synthetic Turf Field Safety and Sports Facility and Equipment Safety.

The video outreach program aims to increase awareness and educate parents, players, coaches and volunteers about athletic field management. The latest installment examines how to identify unsafe surfaces – including skinned areas – and offers best practices specific to baseball and softball fields.

”The SAFE Foundation and its Board of Trustees recognize the tremendous need in local communities for safer and more sustainable sports fields,” says Kim Heck, SAFE Executive Director. “Preparing and preserving baseball and softball fields can be challenging; it’s the responsibility of our organization to arm coaches, parents and players with the information needed to conduct a basic field evaluation before play begins.”

Helpful tips include how to inspect packed dirt areas for ideal moisture conditions, managing wear-and-tear near the bases and conducting proper care for warning track areas.

The Sports and Recreation Fields, Safety First videos are the beginning of a five-year campaign for SAFE to increase outreach, award scholarships, fund educational programs and create partnerships with community members and industry organizations.

Ross Kurcab, former Denver Broncos Turf Manager for over 30 years and owner of Championship Turf Systems, is featured in the SAFE videos. He is the first person to earn the designation as a Certified Sports Field Manager from STMA. Dedicated to improving sports surfaces and facilities nationwide, Kurcab is an ideal spokesperson for the SAFE videos.
For more information:, 800.323.3875.

About SAFE

The SAFE Foundation was established in 2000 to fund research, educational programs and scholarships geared to the sports field profession. SAFE is a 501(c)3 and is the charitable arm of the organization of the Sports Turf Managers Association and works to enrich communities through championing safe, sustainable sports and recreation fields for all athletes.

About STMA

STMA is the not-for-profit, professional association for men and women who manage sports fields worldwide. Since 1981, the association and its 34 local chapters have been providing education, information and sharing practical knowledge in the art and science of sports field management. Its more than 2,600 members oversee sports fields and facilities at schools, colleges and universities, parks and recreational facilities, and professional sports stadiums. For more information:, 800.323.3875.

Categories: test feeds

Grass practice fields providing Wyoming relief from heat, injuries

August 25, 2015

After five straight days on grass practice fields, D.J. May and his Wyoming teammates have made light of their new setting.

“We’re joking around, like, ‘Hey, it’s Michigan State out here!” May said, laughing.

The Cowboys played just one of their 12 games on grass in 2014 — at Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium. They only practiced on grass once last year, senior quarterback Cameron Coffman said earlier this week.

But six of their seven practices during fall camp have been on natural grass rather than the FieldTurf at the Indoor Practice Facility and Jonah Field.

With UW only playing two of its 12 regular-season games on grass this season, the decision to move away from artificial turf thus far has been to preserve players rather than to prepare for games on grass.

Ultimately, it’s cooler and causes fewer injuries.

“What we’re finding is by going on the grass, the heat index is about 40 degrees less right now,” UW coach Craig Bohl said. “That has a particularly big impact on guys being able to stay (on the field) and respond. … We’re getting work done, but we’re just working smarter.”

Added May: “Your feet aren’t burning. It’s a little less warm out there. It’s a little softer, too. It’s a different feel. We’re used to playing on the turf where it’s a little hard, getting turf toe and stuff, and falling, hitting knees hard on the ground. But the grass, it’s more comfortable.”

May, a junior nickel back, and sophomore cornerback Robert Priester are returning from season-ending knee injuries last fall.

With Wyoming playing on the North 40 practice fields on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and the practice fields south of War Memorial Stadium on Thursday and Friday, it’s allowed the two projected starters to ease back into football, to some degree.

“It’s helped me a lot more because the turf is pretty hard to get my foot out of the ground and plant,” Priester said. “The grass is pretty good.”

Categories: test feeds

Grass is greener with Steve Horne on RailRiders side

August 18, 2015

Swiftly pulling a folding knife from his pocket, Steve Horne slices open a tall bag of fertilizer for a quick look-see.

He immediately determines it’s too clumpy.

So Horne, the director of field operations at PNC Field in Moosic, PA home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) grabs another, unopened bag of the stuff that will help grass grow and starts pounding it down on the back of a Gator truck while showing a couple of his interns how to break it up quickly.

It takes a lot more than a lawnmower and water hose to make grass grow in a baseball stadium.

“In general terms,” Horne said, “people look out and see the green grass and want to know how to make their own lawn look that way.

“It couldn’t be farther from your lawn.”

Aside from a huge shed in the bowels of PNC Field filled with lawn-maintaining machines and an endless array of tools of the trade is one simple fact.

The base in most baseball stadiums is composed of sand, compared to the clay base in your average backyard.

“It’s very difficult to grow grass on a sand base,” Horne said. “There are 12 kinds of soil beneath this. All the materials have to be spoon-fed into the ground in order for the plant to live.”

This past week, he was feeding PNC Field some unfamiliar food by laying down an organic fertilizer.

“It’s a product we’ve only used one time before, a product I don’t have a lot of experience with,” said Horne, who has been a baseball groundskeeper for 27 years and has worked on fields for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals during past offseasons. “A lot of the stuff we usually buy are synthetics and they’re consistent.

“This is very inconsistent.”

That’s bad news for the hopper, a small truck that funnels the fertilizer from top to bottom before a spinning blade disperses it throughout the outfield. The chunked-up fertilizer starts clogging the release hole, making things difficult for RailRiders groundskeeping interns Stephen Valente and Cameron Walls and forcing Horne to turn to his bullpen for relief.

He reaches into his arsenal and pulls out an invention he doesn’t even have a name for, an instrument made of a heavily spiked sheath of metal blades at the base, topped by a heavy pole. He starts gently pile-driving it into the fertilizer to make it a little finer, but that’s not really the main role of this instrument.

The primary function of this tool is to open pores in the ground, allowing better reception for seeding and treatments. The idea came off the golf course.

“They use it for greens and areas for seeding purposes,” said Horne, a 51-year-old Mississippi native who had never traveled as far north as Pennsylvania until he was hired as Scranton/Wilkes-Barre turf guru in 2007. “Sports fields and golf courses are two different things. But they have a lot of good tools, and if I find one that will help in what I do, I’ll take it from them.”

Whatever it takes to keep to keep the prime home of the New York Yankees’ top minor league prospects in pristine condition.

“This is their office,” Horne said. “We’re the guys behind the scenes that make their office either really nice or really bad. We do everything we can to help them develop and become major leaguers. Sometimes, we can have an impact on that, an influence on that way the ball bounces or the way the ball plays.

“Which could be the difference in making that young man look good or look bad.”

It’s often a tireless, and often thankless, job.

Horne says the compliments are few, that the grounds crew mostly catches complaints. But he’s prepared for almost any scenario, working on average about 15 hours each game day while preparing the 2 1/4-acre field. He stays at the park from early-morning hours all the way through night games and cleans up afterwards with a crew of seven helpers – including his top assistant Paul Tumavitch along with six other interns and part-time workers.

When the PNC surface starts showing signs of wear and tear, Horne has a few tricks to magically mask it, starting with a green-colored sand he keeps in storage. He also keeps a grass farm outside PNC Field, which gets identical care as the stadium surface so he can easily pull up mounds of grass and transplant it into any splotches that begin to show on PNC Field until those areas can be re-seeded.

“Mother Nature will only grow so fast,” Horne says. “We have to assist it.”

The crew found no relief from a couple of unforeseen storms that pelted PNC Field during the past five years.

First came the horror that happened in 2011, when PNC Field’s drainage system malfunctioned and left puddles of water in the outfield for days – forcing Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s team (then named the Yankees) to play a few home games at Lehigh Valley’s Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. It all stemmed from installation of another drainage system during the changeover from an artificial turf surface to a grass field at PNC Field.

“It caused a lot of embarrassment for everyone involved,” Horne said. “Unbeknown to me, a lot of the things they were doing were incorrect. They cut a few shortcuts, thinking it (the drainage system) was only going to be there for a few years until they got a new stadium.”

But, Horne quickly points out, the resolution was a keeper.

“We re-did the field,” Horne said. “It was so good the second time around, they kept the field and tore the stadium down.”

When it rains, it pours, though.

Last year, the RailRiders were forced to suspend a home game when the grounds crew couldn’t pull the tarp through the outfield during a downpour in time to stop the infield dirt from becoming saturated. Of course, everyone blamed the guys.

“We were ready, but the umpires waited too long (to call for the tarp),” Horne said. “When it rains hard like that, there’s anywhere from 500 to 1,000 gallons of water on it. Once it’s stuck, it’s stuck. That’s only happened a couple of times.”

For the most part, though, Horne and his PNC Field grounds crew are having the time of their lives trying to create a perfect surface that will give minor league players a prime opportunity to advance to the big leagues.

“You love it,” Horne said. “You put so much of your heart into it, it becomes your own. When I came here, I said I didn’t want what the Yankees had in a field, I wanted a little better. People thought I was cocky. But I don’t even think of this as a minor league field, I think of it as being a major league field, very similar to the Yankees and the Phillies.

“Everything they have on their fields, we probably have on ours.”

Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski


Categories: test feeds

Frustrated by sports announcers spouting incorrect facts about athletic fields?

August 18, 2015

Are you frustrated by sports announcers spouting incorrect facts about athletic fields? STMA has a solution — an easy-to-fill-out Event Fact Sheet Template — that you or your communication’s department can use to supply accurate and interesting information to the media.

The events that your facility hosts deserve recognition. Local newspapers, radio and television stations are interested, but you need to reach out and supply information to them. As you know, sports turf managers are in the event business. Whether you are preparing your field for your college’s football opener, a high school’s rival football game, or a weekend soccer tournament for dozens of out-of-town teams, hosting events provides tremendous value to your facility and to your community.

All media outlets have the names of their sports editors online. You can find their email addresses and send a personalized email with the Event Fact Sheet attached. Take a few minutes now to fill it out for your next event and garner the respect and recognition that you deserve. And, you’ll be educating sports editors and announcers in your community about the art and science of sports field management. The more they know, the better they can report it, and you will set yourself up as an expert resource for them.


Categories: test feeds

Beggs takes perfectionist approach to keeping GA high school field turf

August 18, 2015

When he has spare time during his busy days, Jim Beggs will go over to Glynn County Stadium in Brunswick, GA with his pocketknife to cut up individual loose weeds.

To Beggs, the school system’s 16-year turf specialist, it makes more sense than wasting $200 worth of chemicals to correct something he can fix by hand.

It’s one of the many tedious, often-overlooked tasks he will perform on a regular basis to help maintain the county’s top football field, as well as all the other Glynn County high school and middle school athletic facilities.

So goes the unnoticed precision with which Beggs handles his daily duties.

“Jim takes such good care of this. This is like his own personal yard,” Glynn County School System grounds manager Steve Boling said. “He takes everything pretty personally out here. I appreciate it very much. We all do in the school system. This is his baby.”

Beggs even quipped that, after a long day maintaining athletic fields, he takes much less care of the grass at his own home.

“My yard doesn’t look like this,” he said. “My wife said she was expecting our lawn to look like a golf course. I said if she wanted that, we better move to the golf course then.”

His wife’s expectation isn’t misplaced, however. Beggs grew up on golf courses, starting turf management at 14. He went on to get his agronomy degree from the University of Georgia, one of three students in the major in the class of 1988.

Following graduation, he landed a gig fixing up golf courses, working as an assistant golf superintendent and head superintendent, also spending time as a spray technician.

In 1999, he made his way to the Glynn County School System where he’s maintained the turf-grass ever since.

“I defer to Jim on almost everything,” Boling said. “I’m responsible for it all, but Jim’s the one that takes care of everything on site.”

In recent weeks, Beggs has had plenty to do. While he’s responsible for mending the Bermuda-grass field throughout the year — and he does so every day — he pays special attention to Glynn County Stadium over the summer as football season approaches.

This year, he had to do a little extra maintenance due to the soccer season, the Dierks Bentley benefit concert and Glynn Academy’s graduation.

“It wasn’t too bad. There was some ruts and some places with some spot grease built up,” Beggs said. “I could top dress it and over-seed behind it. You really didn’t see that there was a problem.”

On Thursday, as Beggs went through his day-to-day checkup, it looked as good as new. Understandably so, considering all the work he and his crew of four put in this summer to get the field in game-ready shape. At the start of the summer, Beggs began the aerification process and started top dressing the field, which he better describes as “taking nine tons of sand and spreading it out with a box to fill all the holes.”

He continues improvements with lawn-mowing sessions every other day.

“He can turn this back into a carpet at the end of the summer,” Boling said. “You take a lot of this for granted. Jim repairs (it) all summer long.”

In the coming weeks, Beggs will begin painting lines on the field, which he and his four-person crew update the Wednesday before every home game — yet another example of his perfectionist approach.

While many of the thousands of fans at games don’t think twice about the field’s beauty, Beggs and Boling said they do hear well-deserved positive feedback from time-to-time. In fact, it’s often opposing coaches and players who rave over Glynn County Stadium’s top-notch turf.

“A lot of them are going AstroTurf now. We stayed grass. What we hear from visiting teams, they’re all just thrilled. They say it’s one of the best grounds they play on, as far as the upkeep and grass part of it. A lot of them will say, ‘we’re playing in cow pastures, compared to what you’ve got here,’” Boling said. “We owe it all to Jim.”

Categories: test feeds

Field heating systems to be installed for Michigan State baseball and softball

August 18, 2015

The infields of the baseball and softball facilities will be heated, providing each program with extended playing time on both surfaces in the colder months.

Read about it here

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Check out the latest performance info from NTEP

August 11, 2015

The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) is available to provide information on new grasses for use. They have a lot of new performance data on their web site. And you can reach Kevin Morris and staff here (contact us).


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Reports of basal rot anthracnose on the rise

August 11, 2015

Summer turf diseases are in full swing. Tall fescue has brown patch, Kentucky bluegrass has dollar spot, perennial ryegrass has gray leaf spot, and creeping bentgrass/annual bluegrass has Pythium. Every year, Drs. Paul Vincelli and Gregg Munshaw from the University of Kentucky release “Chemical Control of Turfgrass Diseases.” This free publication is a must have reference for turf managers battling disease. It summarizes active ingredients, chemical families for resistance management, best management practices for fungicides, and specific recommendations for control of turf diseases. Click here to download a copy.

Basal rot anthracnose has been identified in southern and eastern Nebraska. While this disease is more commonly found on annual bluegrass, diagnosticians around the Midwest have been finding basal rot anthracnose on creeping bentgrass greens this summer. Symptoms on greens resemble patches of thinning turf (Fig. 1). Older leaves have a yellow- orange color and the stems can have a black and water-soaked appearance. Close inspection of the turf crowns with a hand lens will find that infected plants will have black spots (acervuli) with black hair- like mycelium (setae) emerging from the spot.

“Chemical Control of Turf Diseases 2015” has summarized basal rot anthracnose research and management recommendations from around the country. Here are only a few of the recommendations found in that publication for anyone managing basal rot this summer.

  • Heat, humidity and stress promote basal rot anthracnose. Reduce stress on greens with walk-behind mowers, raise cutting height and alternate rolling with mowing. Irrigate to 80% of ET daily and fertilize with low rates of soluble N every 7 to 14 days for best results.
  • Wet soils from compaction or high organic
    matter accumulation favor this disease when precipitation is plentiful. Use heavy topdressing and aerification to dilute and remove organic matter in the spring and fall.
  • Topdress in season with 1 cubic foot of sand every 1000 square feet each week to protect the growing point from damage during the season (traffic, mowing, etc.).
  • Vertical mowing has been shown to substantially increase basal rot damage.
  • Preventative application of fungicides are generally much more effective than curative control but should be started during late spring. Mixtures of DMI-class fungicides with chlorothalonil provide good preventative control of anthracnose. Penthiopyrad (Velista) has also provided good preventative control. Civitas has been shown to increase control when applied preventatively and season-long. Don’t use Civitas on turf that is already dying from the disease. • For curative control, mix systemic fungicides with chlorothalonil for best results. DMI and QoI (strobilurin) class products generally provide good curative control but will likely need to be re- applied every 14 to 21 days during the summer. Be careful to rotate chemical classes to reduce the risk of resistance that has been documented with the QoI fungicides.

From Bill Kreuser, Assistant Professor, Extension Turfgrass Specialist,

Categories: test feeds

Abby Wambach wants real grass for real athletes

August 11, 2015

The 2015 Women’s World Cup final match became the highest-rated and most-watched soccer game ever to air in the United States. Not only did it turn the world’s attention to women’s soccer, it also put a spotlight on a concern many people don’t think about – playing on artificial turf.

For Abby Wambach, co-captain of the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, well-maintained grass under her soccer cleats isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity for playing aggressively and reducing risk of injury. Wambach’s appreciation for playing on grass has been front and center since the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) announced the games would be fielded on artificial turf in July 2014.

“There is nothing better than playing the sport I love on a real grass field,” said Wambach. “The ball moves quickly and I’m required to react fast and with precision. Real, well-maintained grass helps me anticipate the ball’s movement and feel better about going all-out.”

Wambach’s appreciation for playing on grass created a perfect partnership with RISE to raise awareness about the value of real grass fields and the products and processes needed to care for them.

As part of the partnership, Wambach conducted media interviews from New Jersey Red Bull Arena on July 29. Her voice helped carry RISE’s messages to today’s parents and tomorrow’s next generation of soccer stars.

“Soccer is a great foundational sport, and I want kids to someday be able to experience everything I have,” said Wambach. “That all starts with a natural, healthy playing field.”

“The benefits of real turf playing surfaces bring to life the importance of healthy grass in all the places we live and play, which gives us the opportunity to show the value of products used to maintain healthy turf,” said Karen Reardon, vice president of public affairs for RISE. “Abby’s media interviews and the content shared through social media highlight her professional athlete’s perspective, though the benefits she describes are well known to athletes, parents and communities across the country.”

During the interviews, Wambach told athletes and parents of athletes to think about the following elements before stepping on a playing field:

  1. Natural turf is the optimal playing surface: Natural turf provides athletes with an optimal playing surface – real grass. Practice and competition on natural grass creates softer, and up to 40 degrees cooler, fields with less risk of knee and ankle injuries and skin abrasions.
  2. Turf care is an integrated game plan: The best playing fields showcase the results of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to managing weeds, insects, and diseases that harm grass. Well-maintained grass offers thick, reliable play; otherwise, grass can become patchy with weeds or dirt, creating tripping and other hazards.
  3. Groundskeepers need a complete toolbox: Professional groundskeepers and sports turf managers need access to effective pesticide and fertilizer products that help keep grass healthy.  Turf managers use these products judiciously to solve or prevent specific problems.
  4. Natural turf is personal: Natural grass fields vary with region, soil type, weather patterns, field use, and more. The approach for all fields should be specific to those conditions to keep the field in great playing shape. With proper maintenance, natural grass fields do not have a fixed life and can be used for more than 20 years without replacement.


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Dr. John Cisar retires from University of Florida

August 11, 2015

After 28 years, Dr. John Cisar retired from the University of Florida at the rank of full professor. During his tenure in academia, he served many posts including coordinator of the University of Florida’s undergraduate turfgrass program. He has mentored and served on the committees of many M.S. (Master of Science) and Ph.D. graduate students. He began his academic career at the University of Florida – Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center in December 1986 as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Horticulture. His academic appointment was 70 percent extension and 30 percent research, but he has assembled an impressive record of research and outreach in the following areas: water quality, effluent irrigation on nutrient leaching, nitrogen and pesticide fate, turfgrass nutrition, irrigation efficiency, soil water repellency, soil amendments, evaluation of wetting agents, evaluation of plant health products, turfgrass physiology, bermudagrass and St. Augustinegrass evaluation and management, and much more. His work has been supported by the United States Golf Association Green Section, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), Florida Turfgrass Association, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Soil Science Society of America, and many other segments of the green industry. In addition to serving as an Editorial Advisor on warm season grasses for Turf News magazine since 2002 he also serves as Treasurer for the International Turfgrass Society.

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International Resources