The twin Rees Jones-designed courses of Shadow Hawk and Black Hawk Golf Clubs in Richmond, Texas, about 25 miles southwest of Houston, sit in an area that was hit hard by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in late August of 2017. According to the director of agronomy for the two courses, Brent Schilhab, fire ants have become an issue since the flooding, and he attributes their elevated population directly to the Class-4 hurricane.
“Of course, I tend to want to blame everything now on Harvey,” Schilhab jokes. “But seriously, I believe because of the massive flooding we experienced on both courses our soils have undergone some subtle changes. These changes have definitely affected the fire ant population.”
As with any pest issue on the properties, Schilhab and his two superintendents (Danny White at Shadow Hawk and Glen Murray at Black Hawk) tend to first turn to Syngenta products for the solution. The sudden increase of their ant population was no exception.
“We’ve always had success with Advion Fire Ant Bait in the past,” Schilhab says. “Typically, we make two applications per year. This year, in the aftermath of the hurricane, we have applied the Syngenta product quarterly, and with great success.”
Schilhab’s reliance on Syngenta products for the two courses certainly does not end with Advion and ant control. In the annual battle against weeds, Brent favors multiple Syngenta herbicides, including Pennant Magnum, Barricade and Monument.
“Our weed pressure has increased over the past couple of years,” he says. “Sedge and doveweed being the biggest problems. My Syngenta rep, Bart Fox, suggested a program based on some successful trials Syngenta had conducted.”
Schilhab decided to try the Syngenta herbicide program on Shadow Hawk but not Black Hawk. They did a first application in late February of Barricade, then came back with a second application mid-April of a Barricade + Pennant Mangum combo. A third application around June 10 was done at Shadow Hawk of a Pennant Mangum + Monument combo. All products were applied at the labeled rates.
At Black Hawk, they applied some competitor products, as well as a Monument application (minus the Pennant) in mid-June.
“The results on Shadow Hawk were fantastic,” Schilhab says. “Really burned down the sedge. We got about 95 percent control. On Black Hawk (without the Syngenta program) the sedge came back pretty heavy. I’d say we only got about 15 to 20 percent control tops. We had to come back with some post-emergent applications at Black Hawk, where we didn’t need to do this at Shadow Hawk.”
Schilhab mentioned the plan for 2019 is to give Black Hawk the same “Syngenta” treatment Shadow Hawk got this year. Another issue Schilhab and his superintendents fight utilizing a Syngenta product is the battle at the two courses versus grubs.“We use Meridian for grub control,” he says. “Not so much because of the damage of the grubs themselves, but the damage done by the varmints trying to get at the grubs. The varmints in question being hogs, skunks and armadillos. Again, this product works great for us.”
Another Syngenta product Schilhab has experienced success with is the insecticide Acelepryn.
“We band our trees lines with Acelepryn,” he says. “The control we receive is exceptional. It’s a staple of our summer program.” Acelepryn is applied in July for five months control on fall armyworms, which are currently eating non-Acelepryn treated turf throughout Texas.
Safe to say Schilhab and the twin courses of Shadow Hawk and Black Hawk have discovered the benefits of utilizing all of Syngenta’s industry-leading plant protectors, not just their fungicides and plant growth regulators.Ron Furlong is a Bellingham, Wash.-based turf writer and frequent GCI contributor.