Turf Pest of the Month: How you can stop the spread of kyllinga

By |  September 21, 2023 0 Comments

According to Peter Landschoot, Ph.D., professor of turfgrass science at Penn State University, kyllinga is a particularly pesky turf pest in the Northeast, affecting areas as far north as Connecticut and as far west as Pennsylvania.

If left untreated, kyllinga can spread into large patches. (Photo: Peter Landschoot)

If left untreated, kyllinga can spread into large patches. (Photo: Peter Landschoot)

In addition to Landschoot, Fred Yelverton, Ph.D., extension specialist at North Carolina State University, and Matt Elmore, Ph.D., associate extension specialist at Rutgers University, discuss what to monitor to stop the spread of kyllinga.

How to spot it

Kyllinga is a genus of flowering plants in the sedge family known as spike sedges. Landschoot says it is often mistaken for nutsedge, a weed that infests lawns and flower gardens.

To spot the differences between kyllinga and nutsedge, Landschoot recommends checking the color of the weed. He adds that a darker shade of green usually means you’re dealing with kyllinga.

On top of the shade of color, differences include:

  • Kyllinga leaf blades are narrower;
  • Kyllinga has three-sided steams, meaning when you cut it in a cross section, the stem is triangular;
  • Nutsedge will produce nutlets, a small nut or seed, that must be dug out from the soil.

What consequences come from misidentifying kyllinga? They vary, but according to Landschoot, the most notable is the spread of kyllinga into large, unsightly, patches.

Patches of kyllinga spread via underground stems called rhizomes, especially from May through September when the spread becomes aggressive, Landschoot says. Kyllinga may die during the fall and remain dormant during winter, but he warns that it can resume once springtime hits.

Kyllinga. (Photo: Peter Landschoot)

Kyllinga. (Photo: Peter Landschoot)

Another element that varies is which part of the turf is most susceptible to the weed. Landschoot says that fairway turf and tee areas are the most likely victims of kyllinga because these areas can tolerate low mowing heights, thus making it easier for kyllinga to spread.

The weed is not just limited to those specific areas, however.

Yelverton explains that kyllinga does not discriminate what turf area or species it invades. He does say that the weed prefers wet soils, making soil moisture monitoring an important way to scout for potential outbreaks.

How to stop it

Yelverton recommends products containing sulfentrazone for control. In addition, he says superintendents can use products with halosulfuron on cool-season turf as it usually only requires two applications.

Elmore recommends using imazosulfuron (Celero, Nufarm) when dealing with kyllinga, a postemergent herbicide that spreads to the roots to deliver control of the plant.

Patches of kyllinga on Kentucky bluegrass. (Photo: Steve Langlois)

Patches of kyllinga on Kentucky bluegrass. (Photo: Steve Langlois)

“We found that active ingredients that are used for nutsedge control can be most effective at dealing with kyllinga,” Elmore says. “There are other effective active ingredients that we have found, such as pyrimisulfan.”

Landschoot says that, even though kyllinga is not a major weed in some regions of the country, it’s always good to monitor movement no matter where you are.

“It’s not as pervasive as some other weeds we deal with, but it’s important to learn to recognize it,” he says. “If you see it coming into your fairways, get on it fast so it can’t spread.”

This article is tagged with and posted in Featured, From the Magazine, Turf Pest of the Month

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