Monthly Archives: March 2016

How to make grass greener on the other side

Clint is showing us how his field trials are set up and the major benefits his applications are having on the grass.

Clint is showing us how his field trials are set up and the major benefits his applications are having on the grass.

Turfgrass managers are responsible for the beautiful playing surfaces you are accustomed to seeing for sports including football, soccer, tennis, baseball, rugby, lacrosse, golf, well you get the picture!

The smell of freshly cut grass can lead an unlucky bunch to reach for Kleenex and the allergy meds, while others get a smile on their face as they prepare for game time. Little did you know, those ‘wet-green’ smells are organic compounds to help the grasses (among many other functions) recover from decapitation and fungal infections. Minimizing fungal infections on your lawn are manageable, but what if you were in charge of keeping an entire golf course in perfect shape all year long? This week our guest is Clint Mattox who has worked in Europe and the US in pursuit of managing turfgrass to its highest potential while also being cognizant of the environmental and economic impacts of pesticides and fungicides. Clint is now a PhD student in the College of Agricultural Sciences working with Dr. Alec Kowalewski in the Department of Horticulture focusing on turfgrass management in the Pacific Northwest. You can also follow Clint on Twitter @mattoxgolf.

Clint Mattox does integrated pest management and fungicide research on turfgrass at Lewis Brown Horticulture Research Farm in Corvallis, Oregon.

Clint Mattox does integrated pest management and fungicide research on turfgrass at Lewis Brown Horticulture Research Farm in Corvallis, Oregon.

If growing a perfectly uniform surface wasn’t hard enough, a constant hurdle turfgrass managers are facing are the detrimental impacts of a fungal pathogen, commonly called Microdochium Patches, that can have an annual cost of approximately $20,000 for each golf course! To add insult to injury, certain areas limit the type and quantity of fungicide than can be applied forcing turfgrass managers to seek new solutions.

Clint recently finished a Masters of Science with some promising results for how we can effectively manage the infection of Annual Blue Grass (the primary grass for golf courses in this climate) from this formidable fungus while also moving towards organic methodologies. Using a combination of old and new practices he’s fine-tuning current management strategies with the hopes of being able to eliminate the use of fungicides on golf courses.


Tune in on Sunday April 3rd at 7PM on 88.7FM, or online, to hear about the pursuit of fungicide-free turfgrass management.

**All photos are credited to Steven Ward from the OSU Extension Service.

Earth, Water, and Fire (& Politics too)

What does it mean to be at the intersection of science, policy, philosophy, and cultural norms? This week our guest Brian Trick, a Masters student in the College of Forestry, will discuss some tremendous hurdles we Oregonians have with how we perceive and need healthy forests for the most important resource of all.

Sometimes you get sent out on a fire, spend two days on it, and then it rains on you. Trying to stay warming until it's time to leave. This my best Wilson brother, "behind enemy lines" look.

Sometimes you get sent out on a fire, spend two days on it, and then it rains on you. Trying to stay warm until it’s time to leave. This is my best Wilson brother, “behind enemy lines” look.

We need water to live; considering Oregon receives about 80% of its freshwater from forests it only makes sense to protect areas that carry water from mountaintops to our taps. There are federally mandated safety boundaries (riparian buffers) that surround rivers and streams in forests applied on public and private lands alike. These buffers restrict activity to help minimize erosion losses, temperature spikes in water, as well as sediment and chemical inputs to keep ecosystems functioning. Most of the water purification process happens (literally) upstream. Research projects suggest larger riparian areas will keep ecosystems functioning at a higher level; perfect you might think, lets make the riparian buffers extra wide right?

Not so fast, what happens if you own a small parcel of forest and there are so many streams the riparian buffers prevent you from doing anything on your own property? How much of a buffer zone around a stream is needed for a healthy ecosystem, while simultaneously allowing small land-owners to manage forests? Can we arrive at a ‘one size fits most‘ for protected riparian areas? This is policy at its best, if it works!

This is a complicated intersection of forest management and domestic policy and Brian Trick will help discuss some current events and what this could mean for a judicial precedent. In the event we help Brian save the riparian-buffer world, we’ll also delve into his upcoming job as a Forest Service smokejumper, but don’t worry this isn’t the first time he’s jumped out of aircrafts!

Tune in on Sunday, March 27th at 7PM PST on 88.7 FM in Corvallis or stream us online at to hear exactly why Brian is (literally) a Hotshot!

Brian working for the USDA Forest Service in a rappel operation located in Salmon, ID.

Brian working for the USDA Forest Service in a rappel operation in Salmon, ID.

CSI-Cultivated Squash Investigator: Murder in the Pumpkin Patch

Hannah Rivedal, PhD student in Botany and Plant Pathology, started working with plants before college in her neighborhood greenhouse and plant nursery. She loved growing and caring for plants that were destined to brighten her neighbors’ yards. Hannah believes, “You can’t be in a bad mood when you are holding a bunch of Petunias!” College-decision time neared and as a well-mannered Wisconsin go-getter, Hannah began college at University of Wisconsin, Madison seeking a degree in Genetics with a minor in Japanese which would lead nicely into medical school. All the while, she would travel back to her hometown on holidays and school breaks to work at the greenhouse where she first fell in love with Botany.

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Hannah preparing an experiment in the greenhouses at OSU.

Mid-college Hannah has a revelation after taking a Horticulture class and doing a little volunteer work at the hospital that Pre-med is not the path for her. In total “Hannah-fashion” she takes the reins and sets up informational interviews with eleven academic advisors at UW Madison to try and figure out what she was going to do, and she knows three things: 1) she LOVES plants, 2) she enjoys the challenge of diagnostics, and 3) she loves the reward of getting her hands dirty and working toward a solution. She decided to switch her major to Plant Pathology because it had all of these elements and more! She loves that Plant Path allows her to work directly with growers.

Hannah got her feet wet in “the biz” through undergraduate research in many different labs in the Plant Pathology department, and completed a senior capstone project in a plant disease tolerance lab focused on potatoes. When her college career was nearing an end, Hannah knew that to become a fully-grown Plant Pathologist she would need to continue with a graduate degree.

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Hannah in her natural habitat among her squash seedlings.

Hannah is currently working on many angles of this case under the supervision and guidance of her major advisor, Ken Johnson. Hannah hopes that her research with in Plant Pathology will lead to a position as a Plant Pathologist at an extension station working with growers and conducting research that is tailored to their unique situation.

That brings us to this breaking report: We have a Squash Killer on the loose! Willamette Valley growers want to know what is killing their Winter Squash. Plant Pathogens beware: Hannah Rivedal- CSI (Cultivated Squash Investigator) is on the case!

Victim: Cucurbit species, specifically Winter Squash (Cucurbita maxima), important pumpkin relative responsible for supplying the Willamette Valley and the surrounding region with ‘pumpkin’ soup, seeds, and pie filling. Did you know good’ole Jack-o-lantern pumpkin seeds are not the ones you find in the store? Those are most-likely Winter Squash seeds!

Symptoms: Wilting, crown rot, and root rot. Could cause a 100% yield loss.

Suspects: a soil borne disease that could be Fusarium oxysporum (Wilt pathogen), Fusarium solani (Rot pathogen), Plectosphaerella cucumerina (General wilt pathogen), or a combination.

Here all about it, this weekend on Inspiration Dissemination!


Hannah posing with some big beautiful Winter Squash Summer 2015.

Tune in on Sunday, March 13 at 7 pm to hear more from our own OSU Squash Sleuth, Hannah Rivedal, or stream the show live at

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Winter squash collected and awaiting diagnosis!