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NMSU Turfgrass Conference Scheduled for Oct. 22-25

RUIDOSO - Turfgrass experts can learn why New Mexico could one day be the home where the buffalograss roams at a special turfgrass conference and trade show Oct. 22-25 at the Ruidoso Convention and Civic Events Center.

Buffalograss, biostimulants and Super Bowl-quality grass highlight the 2002 Annual Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show on Oct. 22-25 at the Ruidoso Convention and Civic Events Center, says Bernhard Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. The Southwest Turfgrass Association and NMSU's Extension Service are sponsoring the meeting. (09/25/2002) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

Sponsored by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service and the Southwest Turfgrass Association, the three-day meeting provides information about turfgrass management in the dry and difficult conditions of the Southwest. More than 300 municipal turf specialists, golf course supervisors, greenhouse owners and homeowners from a three-state region are expected to attend.

Among the highlights of the conference, which began in 1955, is a session on the delicate process of establishing and maintaining buffalograsses. "Buffalograss is a low-water use grass, but it's tricky to establish," said Bernhard Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service in Las Cruces. "It is one of the few warm season grasses that could be used anywhere in New Mexico."

Roch Gaussoin, a native grass expert from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and director of one of the world's largest buffalograss breeding programs, will present a seminar and conduct a separate workshop for 20 people at 3 p.m. on Oct. 23. The fee for Gaussoin's workshop is $50.

Another feature of the program is a detailed discussion of much-heralded biostimulants. "This is a gray area where with a lot of snake-oil promises using everything from magnetic force to super-fertilizers," Leinauer said. "But some biostimulant products actually do have value in turf maintenance, and we will be looking at those."

Richard Schmidt, one of the nation's foremost authorities on biostimulants and a retired professor at Virginia Tech University, will present the program and lead a panel discussion. He will also conduct a separate workshop for 20 people at 3 p.m. on Oct. 24. The fee for Schmidt's workshop is $50.

Athletic field maintenance will receive special attention from George Toma, a legendary groundsmaster and National Football League playing field consultant. He has been described as the "Michelangelo of Grass" and has consulted with the NFL on all super and pro bowls.

The conference will also include more than a dozen presentations on a wide range of turf topic, including plant physiology, and native and adapted trees. Speakers will include Extension specialists and guest presenters from New Mexico and other states.

Among the out-of-state speakers are Jim Murphy of Rutgers University, who will speak on fertilization of cool-season grasses and soil amendments for golf greens. David Kopec from the University of Arizona on irrigation will discuss effluent water and warm season grasses. Murphy and Toma will present afternoon workshops on athletic field maintenance.

NMSU presenters are Natalie Goldberg, who will give a plant pathology update, Artesia's Robert Flynn, who will explain soil test interpretation and soil salinity, and John Mexal who will make a tongue-in-cheek presentation on the Southwestern tradition of killing trees. Jill Schroeder will discuss on weed control, Craig Runyan will review sprayer calibration, and Mike English will present an entomology update.

The turfgrass event will also include about 80 exhibitors of products such as sand and gravel, irrigation and chemical products, seed, turf, compost and aquatic supplies.

Registration costs $150 and includes two lunches, trade show admission and membership in the turfgrass association. A golf tournament and barbecue will also be held Oct. 22 for association members.

If you want additional information or are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please call Leinauer at (505) 646-2546 in advance or e-mail him at leinauer@nmsu.edu.