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Hort Notes 2019 Vol. 30:7

September 1

A monthly e-newsletter from UMass Extension for landscapers, arborists, and other Green Industry professionals.

To read individual sections of the message, click on the section headings below to expand the content:

Hot Topics

The UMass Winter School for Turf Managers is now accepting applications

The UMass Winter School for Turf Managers immerses students in a full-time program focused solely on the management of fine turf and taught primarily by UMass faculty and staff. Winter School is a comprehensive certificate program designed to furnish turf managers with the fundamental concepts essential to maintaining high quality turf, while instilling a sense of environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility. 

Winter School 2020 runs January 6 - February 14, 2020, at the UMass campus in Amherst, in a recently revised, time-efficient six week format. Classes are scheduled: Mon-Th 8 AM - 5 PM, and Fri 8 AM - noon. This schedule is designed to accommodate weekend commuters who may want to stay in the Amherst area Mon-Thurs evenings but head home on the weekends. Some area hotels offer special packages for UMass Winter School students.

The international student application deadline is September 13, 2019.  Application review for US students will begin in early September, with a deadline of November 1, 2019 (late applications may be accepted pending availability of seats). Space is limited.

Pesticide recertification contact hours will be offered for all New England states, and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are offered.

For more information, including application instructions, visit

Questions & Answers

Q: We are going to be seeding a cool-season turf area and plan on using Drive XLR8 at seeding. Do we need to use a surfactant with Drive XLR8?

A: The addition of a surfactant such as methylated seed oil (MSO) is required only if Drive XLR8TM or another quinclorac-alone product is being used to target weed control postemergence. An example of this woul be a postermergence application for the control of clover or crabgrass before the overseeding of an existing turf.  This is likely to be the case in late summer preceding an overseeding if a preemergence crabgrass application was not applied or was not completely successful, resulting in some crabgrass escape. The addition of an MSO surfactant is not required for early-season turf establishment from seed on bare soil. Establishment from seed on bare soil in late summer and early fall will not likely require a preemergence herbicide, as some crabgrass may germinate but will rarely be detrimental to the establishment of late summer and early fall seeding projects.

Q: My distributor is offering a non-selective product that contains the herbicide glufosinate as an alternative to glyphosate. Will this product be as successful as the glyphosate product I currently use?

A: The glufosinate profile in the Herbicide Handbook published by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) in the “behavior in plants” section states that glufosinate movement in the xylem and phloem is limited. Glufosinate translocation is limited compared to the strongly-translocated glyphosate. Glufosinate's having limited translocation will result in poor to fair control of perennial weeds, especially those that have a taproot, creeping roots, or rhizomes. Glufosinate will control young annual, biennial and perennial weeds. Glufosinate would not be appropriate for killing an existing turf prior to overseeding or renovation.

Q: Is there giant knotweed in Massachusetts? 

A: Yes, there are populations of giant knotweed in Massachusetts. Giant knotweed, like Japanese knotweed, is known to occur in all six New England states, though it is far less common than Japanese knotweed. The leaves of giant knotweed are much larger than Japanese knotweed. The leaf bases of giant knotweed are lobed compared the square truncate leaf bases of Japanese knotweed. Stem density of giant knotweed is less than that of Japanese knotweed. Japanese knotweed is categorized as INVASIVE in Massachusetts, whereas giant knotweed is not.

Randy Prostak, UMass Extension Weed Specialist

Trouble Maker of the Month

Peak Transmission of Mosquito-Borne Illness Extends Through September in Massachusetts

As we transition from hot, humid summer days to weather that evokes feelings of fall, we must remain on guard when it comes to protecting ourselves from biting insects, including mosquitoes. Mosquitoes usually remain active until hard frost.  

An outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE, is occurring in Massachusetts in 2019, with the first human cases of EEE taking place in the state this year since 2013, as reported by state public health officials. 

The MA Department of Public Health states that EEE is a rare but serious and potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. EEE has occurred sporadically in Massachusetts, with the most recent outbreak years occurring from 2004-2006 and 2010-2012. (The MA Department of Public Health states that since EEE was first identified in Massachusetts in 1938, fewer than 100 cases have been reported. Over 60% of those cases have been from Plymouth and Norfolk Counties.) 

What is EEE? Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare disease caused by a virus that is spread by mosquito vectors. It is one of a group of mosquito-borne viruses that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). “There is no treatment for EEE. In Massachusetts, about half of the people identified with EEE died from the infection. People who survive this disease will often be permanently disabled. Few people recover completely.” Source:

Two types of infection are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): systemic or encephalitic. Across the United States, according to the CDC, 5-10 cases of EEE are reported annually. This virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. (Transmission does not occur from person to person.) For more information about symptoms and treatment, visit:  

The MA Department of Public Health has announced a fifth human case of EEE in Massachusetts in 2019. Laboratory testing has confirmed EEE in a male over the age of 60 in southern Plymouth County, a male between the ages of 19-30 in eastern Worcester County, a male over the age of 60 in northern Franklin County, a female over the age of 50 in southern Bristol County, and a male in his 70's from southwestern Middlesex County. Reportedly, of these cases, one individual has passed away.

At the time this article was written, EEE virus activity has been detected in Barnstable, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties. As of 9/5/19, the MA Department of Public Health categorizes at least 32 communities as “Critical Risk”; 39 communities as “High Risk”; and 121 communities as “Moderate Risk”. For a map of these locations, visit:

As a result, aerial applications of an insecticide have been made in certain areas of Massachusetts. While aerial spraying is expected to reduce the number of mosquitoes in these areas that can spread EEE, aerial applications (which target adult mosquitoes, not developing mosquito larvae), do not eliminate risk. For more information about aerial spraying for mosquitoes in these areas, visit: . This web page includes information about the pesticide product used in aerial spraying activities and the product’s active ingredients, as well as “Frequently Asked Questions” many may have about aerial spraying in Massachusetts.  

Who is at risk? Anyone in an area where the virus is circulating can become infected with EEE; however, the CDC states that the risk is highest for people who live in, or visit, woodland habitats, and those who work outside (arborists, gardeners, golf course personnel, land managers, landscapers, and other landscape practitioners) or participate in outdoor recreational activities (campers, golfers, hikers, sports participants, etc.) due to greater exposure to potentially infected mosquitoes.

How can people minimize risk? Prevention of mosquito bites is vital. For areas in Massachusetts, even where aerial spraying has occurred, the MA Department of Public Health urges residents to continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites by taking various preventative measures. These include: 

  • Staying indoors during peak mosquito hours (between dusk and dawn) – the MA Department of Public Health provides recommended cancellation times for outdoor activities in high risk areas here: .
  • Applying CDC recommended insect repellent when outdoors – those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for use on exposed skin/clothing when used as instructed on the label. Permethrin has also been recommended for use on clothing when used according to label instructions. 
    • A note about natural insect repellents (those not registered with the EPA): the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents, is not known. To protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases, the CDC recommends using an EPA-registered insect repellent. 
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants, weather permitting 
  • Repairing screens on doors and windows

How can mosquitoes be managed in our landscapes? The University of Maryland Extension provides an excellent overview of steps we can take to reduce mosquitoes around homes:

  • Keep gutters clean and be sure they drain properly.
  • Remove sources of standing water in yards, where mosquitoes can breed – drain water out of flower pots, plant saucers, tarps, buckets, barrels, tires, bird baths, trash containers, toys, child’s wading pools, and other various containers and objects that can trap water.
  • Use Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) (Mosquito Dunks®, Mosquito Bits®, or similar products) according to label instructions to reduce breeding larvae. Bti is a naturally occurring bacterium found in soils, which targets and kills mosquito larvae, posing no threat to humans, pets, honeybees, etc. Bti may be purchased at businesses that sell garden products. For more information about Bti, visit: 

For more information about mosquito management in landscapes, visit: 

For more information about EEE and managing mosquitoes, visit:
MA Department of Public Health: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

University of Maryland Extension: 

Colorado State University Extension: 

Tawny Simisky, Extension Entomologist, UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery, & Urban Forestry Program

Plant of the Month

Solidago spp. - Goldenrod 

Goldenrod often gets a bad rap – often the target of criticism for hay fever or allergies caused not by goldenrod, but by ragweed. Goldenrod is bee and insect pollinated and therefore does not create the large amounts of airborne pollen necessary to cause allergies. Besides being mislabeled as causing allergies, goldenrod’s nearly ubiquitous presence in the landscape makes it an often-overlooked plant.

Solidago is a genus in the Asteraceae family. The flowers of goldenrod don’t look like the typical daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae from afar, but up-close the ray and disk florets that are characteristic of the family are visible. The genus contains about 100 species, most of which are native to North America. There are about two dozen species in Massachusetts. Goldenrod can be found in a number of diverse habitats including meadows, roadsides, woodlands, swamps and shorelines. When choosing a goldenrod for the landscape, its native habitat should be considered to determine whether it is likely to thrive. 

Not all goldenrods are good choices for the garden. Some species, like Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima), are tall and aggressive rhizomatous species; depending on the situation, these maybe referred to as weeds. There are, however, a number of species and cultivars that do make good landscape plants. Goldenrods that make good garden plants tend to be shorter, sturdier, have dense flowers, and are able to thrive in typical garden soils. 

Goldenrod has many uses in the landscape with its bright yellow/gold flowers that can easily draw the eye. It can be used in mass plantings or as a focal point in a traditional perennial border. Goldenrod mixed with asters, chrysanthemums or sedums can make a beautiful fall garden or display. Goldenrod is also a great plant for pollinator gardens, attracting not only bees but a large variety of other insects to its late season pollen and nectar resources.

Species and Cultivars

  • Solidago rigidaStiff goldenrod, grows 3-5’ tall and has dense flat heads of bright yellow flowers. It does have a slowly spreading rhizomatous habit.
  • Solidago caesiaBlue stemmed goldenrod is an unaggressive species which spreads slowly, reaching only 2-3’. Sulfur yellow flowers bloom all along the axils and in terminal clusters; not as floriferous as cultivars.
  • Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ -  Fireworks is an improved selection of Solidago rugosa, growing only 3-4’ tall in a slowly spreading clump, and should be divide approximately every three years. The yellow flowers burst from the plant, typically starting in late August, and are full for most of the month of September.  
  • Solidago sphacelate ‘Golden Fleece’ – Golden Fleece is a compact cultivar with golden yellow flowers. The flowers bloom in plume-like panicles reaching 18-24”, slowly spreading, with heart shaped rosettes when not in bloom. 
  • Solidago ‘Goldkind’ aka Golden Baby – Goldkind is a compact golden yellow flowered goldenrod. The flowers bloom on horizontal panicles on 24-30” plants, slowly spreading with strong stems.
  • Other cultivars worth exploring ‘Gold Rush’, ‘Little Lemon’, ‘Solar Cascade’, ‘Crown of Rays’
Solidago 'Goldkind' Solidago 'Goldkind' Solidago 'Goldkind'
Russ Norton, Agriculture & Horticulture Extension Educator, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension

Upcoming Events

Invasive Insect Certification Program

October 17, 31 & November 14

This three-day program looks at the characteristics of invasive insects, the impacts and costs they have regionally and nationwide, and highlights the biology, ecology, and identification of some of the most destructive insects. Participants may receive a certificate in INVASIVE INSECT MANAGEMENT upon the successful completion of all three sections of this series and acheiving a passing score on associated online quizzes following each class. Participants not interested in a certificate may also attend all three days, or individually, without taking the associated quiz. Attendees are encouraged to take all three sessions in one season to get the most out of the information. The three sessions are Part 1: The Impacts and Costs of Invasive Insects (4 pesticide contact hours for categories 35, 36 and Applicators License), Part 2: Invasive Forest and Agricultural Insects in Massachusetts: Current and Future (3 pesticide contact hours for categories 35, 36 and Applicators License), and Part 3: Management of Invasive Forest and Landscape Insect Pests (3 pesticide contact hours for categories 35, 36 and Applicators License).

Association credits: ISA, SAF, MCA, MCLP, and MCH credits available.

Registration and Additional Information.

Other Upcoming Events:​

  • 10/9: Tick Webinar - 2019 Tick Updates from the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology 
  • 10/17, 10/31 & 11/14 - Invasive Insect Certification series
  • 11/21 - Fall Wrap-up

For more information and registration for any of these events, go to the UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery, and Urban Forestry Program Upcoming Events Page

Additional Resources

For detailed reports on growing conditions and pest activity – Check out the Landscape Message

For commercial growers of greenhouse crops and flowers - Check out the New England Greenhouse Update website

For professional turf managers - Check out Turf Management Updates

For home gardeners and garden retailers - Check out home lawn and garden resources. UMass Extension also has a Twitter feed that provides timely, daily gardening tips, sunrise and sunset times to home gardeners, see

Diagnostic Services

A UMass Laboratory Diagnoses Landscape and Turf Problems - The UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab is available to serve commercial landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries and other green industry professionals. It provides woody plant and turf disease analysis, woody plant and turf insect identification, turfgrass identification, weed identification, and offers a report of pest management strategies that are research based, economically sound and environmentally appropriate for the situation. Accurate diagnosis for a turf or landscape problem can often eliminate or reduce the need for pesticide use. For sampling procedures, detailed submission instructions and a list of fees, see Plant Diagnostics Laboratory

Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing - The University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is located on the campus of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Testing services are available to all. The function of the Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is to provide test results and recommendations that lead to the wise and economical use of soils and soil amendments. For complete information, visit the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory web site.   Alternatively, call the lab at (413) 545-2311.