This is Talladega Superspeedway!

With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heading to Talladega Superspeedway this coming weekend, I was lucky enough to be live on location in Alabama to see first hand how thebermuda grass infield gets prepared just days before the big race.  With crowds expected between 150 000 – 200 000 race fans, all eyes will be starring down at pit row and towards the finish line so the turf certainly needs to look its best.

 

 
Standing on the edge of pit row just in front of the grass infield I saw up close how the turf was being prepared.  Along pit row is where the 40 + race cars will make a combined 500 + pit stops to make it through this 500 mile race so dozens of sponsors will have their company logos painted into the grass infield and displayed for the hundreds of thousands of spectators watching live and the millions of viewers watching the race on TV.

 

Talladega Logo’s Painted in Grass Infield

To help cover up some of the imperfections in the turf such as weeds and stressed areas, the grass infield was being painted with a dark green paint to make sure everything looks perfectly uniform.  This process takes some time, similar to painting a wall in your house.  Several layers and coats of paint are required to ensure this uniform colour consistency.  Once this is completed, the sponsors logos are outlined and painted in the grass infield and their brand is displayed brightly very similar to the same thing you see on football fields in the endzone.

A lot of preparation goes into each NASCAR event both on and off the race track and at Talladega the famous grass infield is no exception as the turf needs to look its best too on race day.

This is Talladega Superspeedway

 

Early Instar White Grub Damage

Early instar White Grub damage is becoming increasingly evident in lawns across Canada and the USA this time of the year.    White Grubs are the larvae life stage of several destructive turfgrass insects including the European Chafer, May/June Beetle, and the Japanese Beetle.  During the larvae life stage the white grubs aggrssively feed on the roots of the turfgrass plant causing major damage to lawns.  The Adult beetles (European Chafer, May/June Beetle, and Japanese Beetle) laid their eggs early in the summer and these eggs have hatched, thus the early instar activity of these white grubs.

 

 
Early Instar White Grub Activity
 
For most white grubs, their life cycle takes 1 year to complete and the most damaging stages of their cycle is during the larvae stages which takes place over the fall and into the next spring.  As the larvae cycle ends the white grubs then stop feeding and pupate into an adult beetle.  After the adults have emerged, they lay their eggs and start the entire process over again.

 

White Grub Life Cycle

 

Major damage can also become evident in lawns from animals, birds and rodents that are searching and digging for these white grubs as food.  Often times, the damage created from this digging is much more severe than the grub feeding damage itself.

 

 

 
White Grub Larvae Closeup
 
White grub larvae are cream white in colour with a tan coloured head, and have 3 pairs of legs at the front of its body.  A raster pattern (arrangement of tiny hairs) can be found on each grub larvae at the back end.  Depending on how good your eye sight is a magnifying lens may be required to see this raster pattern.  The raster pattern is what is used to identify and determine what type of beetle the larvae grub will become.  For example an “Open Zipper” pattern indicates the grub will become a European Chafer beetle, and a “V-Shape” indicates it will become a Japanese Beetle.  This identification process is important because grub life stages can vary slightly depending on the particular grub species and timing control applications is imparetive to ensure good quality control.

 

 

European Chafer Larvae Raster Pattern

Japanese Beetle Larvae Raster Pattern

 

For more information on white grubs click the following link. White Grubs

Weed of the Week – White Clover

This weeks weed of the week is White Clover.  Commonly referred to as the “Shamrock” white clover consists of 3 oval shaped leaves that together grow from the central stem and make up this famous shamrock symbol. As luck would have it, it is estimated that approximately 1 in about every 10 000 three-leaf clovers a very lucky four-leaf clover can be found.

Native to North America, White Clover is one of the most common weeds that can be found in lawns all season long across Canada and the USA. In some cases, white clover is even being planted by homeowners in place of grass as a natural dense ground cover reducing the maintenance, water, time and money required to maintain a grass lawn.

White Clover (close up)

White Clover is a very low growing broadleaf weed that is green in colour and has 3 leaflets that form what we most commonly call a shamrock. White and pinkish flowers grow and bloom as the plant ages making it much more obvious in a lawn when the clover is flowering. White Clover typically creeps its way through the lawn growing in patches, and multiple layers under the canopy of the turf. This makes it very challenging and difficult to control given its growing nature. Multiple applications are required throughout the season to help eliminate this weed.

To learn more about White Clover click here to view Power Point Presentation.  Weed of the week – white clover

 

Inspiration to “Nourish Lives”

Inspiration to “Nourish Lives”

We all know individuals and families in our communities who have encountered and faced difficult circumstances….and have over come adversity to give inspiration to everyone they encounter. They “nourish” lives.

Cindy Desjardin is from Holland Landing, Ontario a small town north of Toronto. Last year she developed “flesh eating disease” masked by symptoms that she and her doctors thought were originally a bad flu. As detailed in her blog below, she is lucky to be alive. To save her life, her arms had to be amputated below her elbows and her legs below her knees.

While her recovery has come a long way in a short period of time, she faces a hurdle of raising $104,000 for myoelectric arms. She has had a lot of support…and the East Gwillimbury Men’s Hockey League raised $10,000 at its annual golf tournament in June towards Cindy’s new arms.

Nutrilawn donated 50,000 Aeroplan miles which was matched by Futura Loyalty Group towards a live auction for 100,000 Aeroplan miles.

Nutrialwn sponsors a team in the East Gwillimbury Men’s Hockey League where Ted Dzialowski, Executive Chairman of Nutrilawn, was the Commissioner from 1996 to 2008. Ted continues to lace them up for the Nutrilawn team (and 3 other teams in different leagues as well).

We had a fun time at our golf tournament with our Nutrilawn foursome of Ryan Vincent, CEO of Nutrilawn, Jordan Lavin, COO and Dave McVey, Nutrilawn Toronto GM.

It was a great day when I met the Desjardin family with my hockey friends to give the Leagues $10,000 cheque towards buying Cindy’s arms. In the picture below, presenting the cheque to Cindy is Glenn Macdonnel, the current Commissioner of the League and the Director of Special Olympics in Ontario when he’s not playing hockey. To his left is Peter Wiesner, the Leagues Treasurer. To my right is Cindy’s husband, Marc, holding their young son Liam. Behind me is Jeremy Farrow, the Desjardin’s neighbour and player in our League who brought Cindy’s need to our attention and Dave Carter on his left who is on our Executive.

ted dzialowski renourish
(Click to view larger)

We wish Cindy every success in her continued recovery and her inspirational journey. You can read more about her story and contribute towards her fund raising on her blog.

Cyndisstory.comNutrilawn is active in helping many causes in the communities from coast to coast through our Re-Nourish initiatives where we “nourish lawns and lives.”

 

Chinch Bug Alert!

Chinch Bug Alert!

Summer heat is in full effect and lawns are now showing signs of browning out.  Be aware, this could be more than just drought. Tiny surface insects called Chinch Bugs are very common during the summer months.  Chinch Bugs typically live in the thatch and suck the juices from the grass leaf blades causing damage that looks very similar to drought stress.

 

 
Chinch Bugs are very tiny but can cuase major damage. The damaging nymphal life stage of the chinch bug is bright red in color with a white stripe across its back.  In order to find them you will have to get down on your hands and knees and spread the turf apart.  The best place to look for active chinch bugs is in areas where the stressed turf meets the healthy turf.

 

Different Life Stages of Chinch Bugs

Damage caused by chinch bugs is usually permanent and the lawn will not recover when it rains or the lawn gets watered. It is very important to identify, treat and eliminate these chinch bug Infestations before they multiply and the damage becomes extensive to a lawn.

Chinch Bug Damage to a Lawn

Click here to learn more about chinch bugs.

Pristine Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn in of all places – Pisa, ITALY

Earlier last month I travelled over to Europe in Italy and came across some of the nicest Kentucky Bluegrass I have seen in a long time.  I was in the city Pisa at the historic site of the Worlds most famous tower “The Leaning Tower of Pisa”.  The grounds surrounding the tower and famous cathedral next to the tower were meticulously manicured and the turf was in pristine condition…so much so that I did a live on location video for all the people back home to see.  The turf was beautiful lush green without a weed in sight…..i suspect chemical weed control restrictions are not yet in effect!  Although the leaning tower was a sight to see, being the grass expert I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful turf that made it that much more special.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better looking Kentucky Bluegrass lawn than this one in Pisa!

 

Oregon – The Birth Place of Grass Seed Production

Have you ever wondered where grass seed comes from or where it is grown?  To help answer that question I had to travel to the Pacific Northwest State of Oregon to see where it all takes place.  Situated in the Willamette Valley, Linn County known as “the Grass Seed Capital of the World” is home to over 1500 grass seed farms, covering over 500 000 acres of land, and yielding over 700 million pounds of grass seed annually!   Amazingly, all but 2% of the grass seed produced here is shipped out of state and around the world.  Linn county is truly the birth place of seed production, and it is with the ensured highest quality that continues to regard Oregon with the reputation as the worldwide leader in seed production.

Seed Research Facility – Oregon

The cool moist winter, and dry warm summer climate throughout the Willamette Valley make growing conditions very ideal for grass seed farmers and allows them to produce the highest quality of seed for worldwide distribution.  Field after field, farmers are growing just about every cool season turf species including, Kentucky BluegrassPerennial RyegrassCreeping BentgrassFine FescueTall Fescue, as well as forage type grasses too.

New Varieties of Turf in Greenhouse

I had the opportunity to visit the Seed Research of Oregon facility and learn from the members of their professional team and research scientists just how the seed production works from start to finish.   As you can imagine this is no simple process and takes years of research and development to bring a final product to market.  Some of these important steps include carefully selecting plant varieties, breeding the plants,  monitoring and evaluating their performance, commercializing and moving into field production, harvesting the crop, screening and cleaning the seed, sampling for purity analysis, until the product is ready to be shipped and sold.

Turf Plots at the Research Facility

Many industries including golf courses, lawn care operators, landscapers, nursery sod growers, and sports field managers are all faced with tougher and tougher challenges each day to maintain the highest quality of turf.   As seed research and development continues, selecting the species and varieties that have been specially designed to help combat the challenges of drought stress tolerance, insect, and disease resistance, require less fertility, can tolerate effluent water quality, and germinate quicker are just a handful of the qualities that will help turf managers maintain and grow healthier turf.

 

Seed selection has never been so important, and that’s why at Nutri-Lawn, we have carefully selected these different grass types with the top performers for each environment and growing condition.   Whether it be in the sun or shade, or for new lawn establishment, or just anoverseeding we always ensure the highest quality of seed.

 

 

Kentucky Bluegrass a distant second to the Ancient Wonder of the World!

As I highlighted earlier, while I was travelling in Italy this month well maintained turf was very hard to find.  When I came across some I couldn’t help but do a live on location video when I had the opportunity.   Lone behold at one of the most famous historic sites of Ancient Rome just beside one of the 7 Wonders of The World I found what I was looking for.   A small section of perfectly manicured Kentucky Bluegrass just outside the walls of the magnificent Colosseum.   This tiny section of turf is about the only piece of green you can find anywhere around the perimeter of The Colosseum so once again I wanted to pay special attention considering it was looking so “Wonderful”.

 

Kentucky Bluegrass – 9/11 Memorial Park in New York

I was just recently in the New York over the Memorial Day Weekend and I made a trip down to the 9/11 Memorial Site Park.  This same area was once referred to as Ground Zero, after the terrorist attacks collapsed the Twin Towers.  This same area is  now home to an amazing 9/11 Memorial Site Park.  The base outlines where the South and North towers once stood are now gigantic waterfall pools surrounded by the names of the victims from the terrorist attacks.  Thousands of people visit this memorial site each day to pay their respects to all the fallen heros and victims.  The new Freedom Tower is currently being built and is under construction nearing completion right beside the park.  The building will reach 1776 feet tall representing the independence of the United States of America.  Across the 9/11 Memorial Park there are dozens of beautiful Oak trees and very symbolic groups of 2 parallel rows of turf very much like the twin towers.   The turf growing in these rows is Kentucky Bluegrassand is perfectly maintained without any weeds.

Here is a video i shot while i was visiting the Memorial park.  Pretty amazing stuff.

 

Weed of the Week – Wild Violet

This weeks weed of the week is Wild Violet.  Wild Violet is commonly found in lawns across North America and is considered a difficult to control weed, meaning multiple applications of both natural or synthetic weed control are required to effectively control it.  In many cases Wild Violet finds its way into a lawn creeping in from rock bed gardens or ground cover areas.  It is low lying and the easiest way to identify wild violet is by the heart shaped leaves and purple or white pansie like flowers that bloom during the early spring months.

Wild Violet

 

To learn more about Wild Violets click here to view Power Point Presentation.  Weed of the Week – Wild Violet